Black Sabbath: Ronnie James Dio (vocals); Tony Iommi (guitar); Geoff Nicholls (keyboards); Geezer Butler (bass guitar); Vinny Appice, Bill Ward (drums).
While certainly not as long, prolific, or influential as the Ozzy Years, Black Sabbath's stint with Ronnie James Dio merits more than a mere footnote in the band's storied history, and Rhino's THE DIO YEARS aims to rectify the oversight. When Ronnie James Dio left Rainbow and joined Sabbath in 1979, the band was rapidly becoming commercially inconsequential, and Dio was hungry to prove himself as more than Ritchie Blackmore's frontman. The resulting two studio albums, HEAVEN & HELL and MOB RULES, not only re-established Sabbath's commercially viability but also announced Dio as one of the most undeniable metal singers of his era.
THE DIO YEARS focuses almost exclusively on tracks--sterlingly remastered--from the abovementioned records, but also includes "Children of the Sea" from LIVE EVIL and a few from the 1992 reunion flop, DEHUMANIZER. The real surprises of THE DIO YEARS are "Shadow of the Wind," "The Devil Cried," and "Ear in the Wall," three new songs recorded by Sabbath with Dio shortly before the compilation's release. THE DIO YEARS is a great start for casual Sabbath fans looking to get in a little deeper or for Dio fans looking for his great Sabbath moments in one place.
Rolling Stone (p.66) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "Dio's banshee vocals and Tony Iommi's brilliant, creepy guitar make it all work, most spectacularly on the title track, a nearly-seven-minute, time-signature-shifting epic about good and evil."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.131) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[T]he three new songs included here are classic Sabbath: monolithic and doom-laden. Just like the bad old days."