Who goes to see Heaven & Hell these days?
Why, Black Sabbath fans, of course.
The quartet is the third incarnation of the famed British heavy metal band, with founding members Tony Iommi and Terry “Geezer” Butler joined by singer Ronnie James Dio and drummer Vinnie Appice. The group recorded three previous albums under the Black Sabbath moniker, but after reuniting in 2006 it adopted Heaven & Hell — the name of its 1980 album — as a way to differentiate itself from the Sabbath fronted by Ozzy Osbourne.
“It still is Black Sabbath, Sabbath with Dio. It’s just under a different name,” says guitarist Iommi, 61, who owns the Sabbath name but was sued earlier this year by Osbourne to relinquish control (and, of course, royalties). “The reason we use the different name is so they know they’re getting the stuff from Dio and that we’re not playing any of the older (Osbourne-sung) stuff.
“But the audience is the same. They all come in Black Sabbath T-shirts, though we’ve been doing this (new name) long enough we’re starting to see more Heaven & Hell T-shirts, too, which is nice.”
Heaven & Hell further cemented its identity with April’s release of “The Devil You Know,” the lineup’s first new album in 17 years. And Iommi says he’s pleased that fans seem to be getting the message and aren’t shouting for the Osbourne material.
“Funny enough, we haven’t had that at all, which is really good,” Iommi says. “Y’know, we stated what we were going to do before we came out. If we had gone out as Black Sabbath, then we would’ve played ‘Iron Man,’ ‘War Pigs,’ ‘Paranoid.’ But ’cause we’ve gone out as Heaven & Hell, it allows us to play all that stuff.
“So nobody can say, ‘Oh, we were expecting to hear this or this.’ We let ’em know, and it looks like they’re listening.”
Iommi, who can’t comment on the Osbourne lawsuit, isn’t sure what Heaven & Hell’s next movie will be, though after an active four years he expects the band to take “a three-month break, at least” before considering anything. The guitarist, meanwhile, is scoring a horror movie called “Black Sabbath” that’s being directed by Mike Fleiss (“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” remakes) for a 2010 release.
Heaven & Hell and Coheed and Cambria perform at 7 p.m. Friday (Aug. 21) at the Meadow Brook Music Festival on the campus of Oakland University in Rochester Hills. Tickets are $45 and $65 pavilion, $20 lawn with a $60 lawn four-pack. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.
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