Vaya Con Dio


They came for the resurrection, these women with their black leather pants sucking at their long, flat asses so tightly you could make out the dimples; these men with their hair so wild and feral it looked as if their heads were merely means of transport for rat kings; these bloodshot children, piercing the air with savage wails of “Blaaack Saabbaaaaaath!” This unruly throng had followed the left-hand path to Radio City Music Hall, for it was here that Ronnie James Dio would reunite with his old bandmates Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and Vinny Appice under the strange sobriquet Heaven and Hell. (Why not Black Sabbath? Lawyers? Sharon?) The crowd was not disappointed, as Baphomet himself would have brayed in approval at the gothic heaviness on display.

Dio, a Gollum-like homunculus, pranced and preened and soothed and shouted on a stage resembling a crumbling medieval church. GZR spewed forth with roiling low-end sludge. The darkly regal Tony Muthafuckin’ Iommi, silver crucifix dangling from his neck, blasted fearsome riffs from his horned axe, jurgling the nurgles of all those in attendance. Vinny Appice didn’t fuck anything up. Purists be damned—this was metal of such epic, dramatic fury that when your turn comes, you can look Cerberus in the eyes and tell the beast the music heard on this night stood on near equal footing with Sabbath’s Ozzy-era material.

Perhaps the following incident might further convey the evening’s dark power: Precisely at the moment H&H waded into “Children of the Sea,” three younglings seated near me began to shake as if wracked with Saint Vitus’s dance. Their eyes glowed a ghastly red; their mouths swung agape in evil ecstasy. I looked on in disbelief as their faces slowly melted from their skulls, scorched by the hot breath of an Iommi solo. Espying the carnage, Dio lurched to the edge of the stage. The golden-throated gremlin lifted his hand to the sky and extended two wormlike fingers—the sign of the devil. A column of fire shot forth from the drum riser. The children’s heads had transmuted into flaming skulls and were banging back and forth in time to the music. Horrified, I turned my eyes to Dio—and saw a thin smile creeping across his lips.