Thursday, July 30, 2009

Retrospective: Ronnie James Dio - Solo (Part 2)

Lock Up The Wolves marks the solid end of "The Golden Age" of Dio material. While it still follows the same formula of wizardry and wars, it seems like the heart is out of it. It shuffles on from song to song - doing nothing bad, but nothing really well either. If this was a release from a different artist/band, the group would quickly be swallowed up by mainstream media, but because it is an act so well known, it keeps on.
This is my least favorite Dio album. With almost every other of his releases, there is at least one track that I can get behind and really enjoy - but not this one. It's all just average song after average song, eleven times in a row. I don't think he was really trying too hard for this one. Even the album artwork is lackluster. Disappointing Ronnie, disappointing.
This is Dio's search for a resurgence into the market. This album focuses on technology and the evils within. While it is better then his previous effort, it falls short on many instances. I view this as the rise, towards what would become on his next few releases.
Now Magica is the closest yet to the glory days (the 80's) of Dio's music. It is a concept album with moving lines and interesting music. All and all a pretty good album, compared to the last few efforts at least. But what kills the album for me, is the 18 minute long spoken track, explaining the story of Magica, in semi-poetic form. Ok, I get that you want all the subtleties of your project realized, but concept albums are known for not knowing the full meaning on the first try. You are supposed to listen over and over again to hear the variation in stories, not have it handed to you. (Check out my article on Dream Theater - Scenes From A Memory or my one on Iced Earth - Something Wicked This Way Comes for a more in-depth view of a concept album.) While Magica is a call-back to the good Dio-era, the ending explanation is a poor (and very boring) way to finish up a project.
Following Magica, and in the same vein (without being a concept album), Killing The Dragon is a continuation of the NWOBHM/power metal sound that the classic Dio albums are known for. While it still isn't measurable against Holy Diver or The Last In Line, it is one of the strongest within this article. A seemingly resurgence of the Dio sound.
Dio's last album - finally. I was surprised with how much I liked this album. It is definitely one of my favorites from the latter dio-era. The songs are slower, but not too slow. Alot of the songs have a pulsating guitar and drum combo, with simple riffs and 4/4 drumming. It is very groove heavy, and relies alot on the lyrics and vocals, which in Dio's case is a good thing. It's a really strong album, slightly repetitive, but acceptably so. As I said, I am surprised with how strong this release actually is, it sounds like a new band then the previous albums. I would look forward to another Dio album, if it was like this one.

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