Sound — 6
The lackluster result of an ill-timed reunion, 1992's "Dehumanizer" displays a Dio-fronted Sabbath not prepared to deal with that decade's changing musical landscape or the inescapable pressure of their own legend. If "Dehumanizer" is about anything, it's all about the song "I". Having had the great fortune to catch the late, great Dio (along with, obviously, the rest of this classic line-up) in 2008 when Heaven & Hell toured with Judas Priest, Motorhead and Testament, I can attest to the power of "I" live. This stomping anthem stands as the strongest of "Dehumanizer"'s unholy trinity of best tracks, alongside the album's rocking single "TV Crimes" - with its searing indictment of predator televangelists (forgive the redundancy)- and the majestic ballad "Too Late". "TV Crimes" also serves as a fantastic showcase for Geezer Butler's masterful basswork. Seamlessly he manages to keep the song driving while noodling with glorious abandon. Geezer himself had only recently returned to Sabbath following a stint in Ozzy Osbourne's solo band during the late '80s. Honorable mentions go to "Buried Alive" with its churning "Zero The Hero"-esque riff and the mournful epic "After All (The Dead)". Far from flawless (note such filler as the surprisingly weak opener "Computer God" and "Sins Of The Father"), the album is more akin to a comfy old pair of corporate hard rock slippers than the innovative sturm und drang, diabolus in musica and other flowery foreign language descriptors of the timeless Sabbath sound fans love. Tracks like "Master Of Insanity" and "Letters From Earth" aren't bad, but they are quite safe from being mistaken for the A material. Speaking of mistaken, "Time Machine" (which appears twice, once as a "Wayne's World" soundtrack mix) could easily be mistaken for a Dio solo effort, having no distinctly Sabbath essence about it.
Lyrics — 6
Vocally, Dio is in his usual full-throated glory. The lyrics, with sparse exception, seem mostly an afterthought. Stock angst and rebellion, though delivered with all the professional passion Dio could muster. Perhaps he was saving the good stuff - chock full of the mystical and mythical - for his own solo works, or perhaps occasional lyricist Butler helped him dash off some words so they could simply finish the recording. Whatever the events, there's nothing particularly memorable nor cringe-worthy about the lyrics, they merely are.
Overall Impression — 6
At the core of "Dehumanizer"'s failure to be spoken of in the same reverential tones as "Heaven And Hell" and "Mob Rules" is the surprising absence of Tony Iommi and his Immortal Riffs. Still trying to shake off the banality of the Tony Martin years, there's no true Immortal Riff herein. The solos and parts are perfectly fine, but not even in the same galaxy as Iommi's best. Overall, this brief rekindling between old mates quickly went the way of the dinosaur, leaving behind a fossil worthy of excavation solely as an historical curiosity for Black Sabbath and/or Dio completists.