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25 Years Ago: Black Sabbath Release ‘Dehumanizer’ featuring Ronnie James Dio!

Dehumanizer is the sixteenth studio album by Black Sabbath, released in June 1992. It was the first Sabbath studio album in over a decade to feature Ronnie James Dio on vocals and Vinny Appice on drums. It is also the first in nine years to feature original bassist Geezer Butler. Originally, legendary drummer Cozy Powell was scheduled to play drums on the album but during rehearsals in November, Powell suffered a bizarre injury when his horse died and collapsed on him, breaking his hip. Dio wanted Simon Wright, who was playing with Dio at the time, to fill the drum seat, but Butler and Iommi vetoed him, opting instead to go with Vinny Appice, who had played in the Black Sabbath lineup for The Mob Rules. It was a good move. Appice’s consistant steady bombastic beats and simple, effective fills energized his band mates, resulting in what some consider one of Sabbath’s heaviest albums! Lyrical themes vary from a computer worshipped as a god, to televangelists, to individualism and doubts about the afterlife. In my personal opinion this album is a classic-metal masterpiece! By far one of their best with Ronnie on vocals.

Sadly this incarnation of Black Sabbath ended again when Dio’s contract with the band ended several days before the Costa Mesa reunion shows in November 1992. While on tour for the album, the band told Dio that Sabbath would be opening for Ozzy in Los Angeles as part of his farewell tour. According to Iommi, Dio quit because of this, referring to Ozzy as a “clown”. “No, sorry. I have more pride than that,” Dio supposedly said. Dio left Black Sabbath before the LA show and Judas Priest vocalist Rob Halford filled in. Halford and Dio were friends so Rob would only do the Costa Mesa shows with Dio’s blessing, which he received when he spoke with Dio by phone. Both shows were recorded in their entireties and are now widely circulated as audio and video bootlegs. And I have copies of them and I plan on playing them in a future segment of BLOW IT OUT YOUR OZ.

The Dehumaizer album was re-released, complete with bonus content, on 7 February 2011. It was also included in the 2008 Dio-Era Black Sabbath box set titled The Rules of Hell. And of course this album’s line-up of Dio, Appice, Butler, and Tony Iommi did later reunite in 2006 for a greatest hits set, Black Sabbath: The Dio Years, and a new studio album in 2009, The Devil You Know (billed as “Heaven & Hell”).

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