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-   -   Broken Rainbow: The Rise and Fall of Ronnie James Dio (

lidija 06-29-2022 12:30 AM

For me, The last in line is one of the best songs ever.

And Dio is always on my playlist.

Trollheart 06-29-2022 12:01 PM


Guybrush 06-29-2022 01:34 PM

Okay, well.. how do you guys like his 2000 album Magica?

Cause this ain't so bad.

Saw him playing with Sabbath (Heaven & Hell) in what would turn out to be his last concerts in Norway. Dio kinda comes across as a little cheesy and weird on screen maybe? But his stage presence was undeniable.. a legendary voice and performer.

Trollheart 06-29-2022 07:46 PM

Magica's a decent album. One of his last batch, with Master of the Moon and Killing the Dragon tying up a fantastic career than kind of sagged in the middle but ended on a high. More or less.

music_collector 06-29-2022 07:50 PM

I don't know this album.

Trollheart 06-29-2022 08:54 PM

Get to know it. :)

Mondo Bungle 06-29-2022 09:25 PM

In the heat and the rain, with whips and chains

Also Children of the Sea is one of the best Sabbath tracks. Then again so are quite a few Dio tracks, I just really like Children. One of my first CDs was Black Sabbath - The Dio Years.

Have you listened to Dehumanizer? It's a worthy album.

Trollheart 06-30-2022 05:29 AM

I don't think so. I'll have to check it out.

Mondo Bungle 06-30-2022 06:54 AM

It's tight that Stargazer is like unanimously one of the hardest rocking songs there is

Trollheart 07-03-2022 10:16 AM

Part IV: Fading Colours

More members of the band departed before the release of the next album, three years later. In fact, everyone who had been in the original lineup left, leaving Ronnie with the job of finding replacements for Vinny Appice (who had helped him found Dio) and Jimmy Bain, as well as keyboard player Claude Schell. Craig Goldy, who had been brought in to (try to) replace Vivian Campbell for Dream Evil, left soon after that album was finished and was replaced by Rowan Robertson, but he would only last for this album.

Lock Up the Wolves - Dio - 1990 (Reprise)

And again we run the familiar formula! Fast rocker to open in “Wild One”, then things slow down for the obligatory rock cruncher, this time it's “Born On the Sun”, then for once the spell is broken as we remain rock crunchin' for “Hey Angel”, heavy, pounding drums and a gravelly vocal from Ronnie, but it's still hard to see anything new, or indeed, progressive, about any of the songs here. Which is a pity, as they're all great in their own right, just a little too ... predicatable. “Between Two Hearts” opens with the chingling guitar seen in “Don't Talk to Strangers”, but in fairness it doesn't speed up as that track does, but stays heavy and slow, providing another surprise, and surprise is something I normally tend not to associate with Dio.

The album does contain the longest Dio composition ever, the title track, which comes in at a massive eight and a half minutes, and opens on proggy synth and keys, then guitars hammer in alongside drums and we get something more akin to “Stargazer” or “Gates of Babylon” from Rainbow than anything else. Incidentally, before any Dio know-it-all raises his or her hand and points out that the closing track on 2000's Magica is over eighteen minutes long, I should point out that I discount that, as it has no music and is essentially a long spoken monologue.

“Evil on Queen Street” has a very Black Sabbath feel to it - more Ozzy era than Dio, truth be told - and I'm starting to notice that this is a very slow, heavy, grinding album: I've hardly heard, since the opener, any fast rockers at all. At least the status quo is being challenged, which is a good thing always, but this is becoming very heavy going, almost like trudging through thick mud in flimsy sandals, and I'm beginning to feel bogged down.

And here comes a helping hand, at last! Now I'm climbing out of the mire as “Walk On Water” rocks the speakers and kicks everything up the arse, finally. About damn time! Slow and crunchy and ponderous is all very well if you're listening to a sludge metal album, but the very least I expect out of Dio is to rock! Great guitar solo here from the new boy (who would soon be replaced) but we're soon back to the slow rock crunchers with “Twisted”, though there's a decent push as the album comes to a close with “Why Are They Watching Me” rocking along nicely, and the powerful “My Eyes”, with its often almost acoustic passages and its semi-medieval flavour harking back to Ronnie's days with Rainbow.

I don't think I can recall an album before or since by Dio which was so weighted on the side of slower, heavier, grinding power crunchers, and I think perhaps it's this that marks this album as a failure in my book: I miss the fast Dio rockers of the last few albums, and if this was an experiment to change the sound of the band (which I don't know) then it didn't work. Not for me, anyway.

After this, Dio basically broke up the band when invited by Geezer Butler to get back together with him and the guys in Black Sabbath. This explains the curious hiatus in Ronnie's involvement with Sabbath (ten years between albums) and is, I think, unique in heavy metal. I can't remember any vocalist working with a band, leaving and then coming back again so much later. Even Bruce Dickinson was only away from Maiden for seven years, even though that seemed like an eternity!

Dehumanizer - Black Sabbath - 1992 (IRS)

(Note: Okay Mondo, it seems I have heard it!)

Would it be a good idea, this getting back together with Sabbath after so long? Would Ronnie take the band back to the heyday of Heaven and Hell, injecting some needed epic and progressive tones into their music, or would he, indeed, eschew the very themes that had mostly driven his own band, abandoning the fantasy themes to concentrate on more straight-ahead heavy metal? Well, there's no doubt that Dehumanizer (must assume they were targeting the American market, with the spelling) is a heavy album, so heavy it's almost thick and impenetrable. It's the Sabbath of old, really, sans Ozzy, and the opener “Computer God”, despite its attempt to drag the seventies metallers into the nineties really just comes across as someone, as Blackadder once opined, “strategically shaving a monkey and forcing it into a suit”.

It's a good song, no doubt, and there are elements of the old, “classic” Dio in there, but the boys have, since Ronnie's departure, reverted to their heavier, darker side, such as was seen on albums like Paranoid and Vol 4. Tony Iommi can still play a guitar as well as ever though, and he puts in some blistering solos. Ronnie was also reunited with the estranged co-founder of Dio here, as Vinny Appice occupies the drumstool, indeed bringing the whole thing full circle really. Geezer Butler is, well, Geezer Butler, and Ronnie of course is in powerful voice, but on the whole you have to wonder what the point of this “mini-reunion” was. It's not like they intended to stay together for any more than one album.

“After All (The Dead)” has a lot of “Iron Man” in it, with Ronnie even, perhaps unconsciously, emulating Ozzy's vocal style without the falsetto of course, while “TV Crimes” gets things rocking in no uncertain fashion, but everything's back slow doomy and crushing with “Letters from Earth”, and Butler's bass figures heavily (in both senses of the word) on “Master of Insanity”, then there's some welcome keyboard relief in “Time Machine”, though it doesn't last. This is not a bad album, and I have to admit that post Mob Rules I have heard nothing of Sabbath's catalogue, with the exception of the awful Born Again (which in itself was pretty instrumental in my coming to the decision not to proceed any further with Sabbath after Ronnie left), so I can't say if this album is representative of their usual output during the nineties and beyond, but it all kind of goes by in something of a blur for me.

It's Ozzy revisited again for “Sins of the Father”, again very heavy and with a lot of feedback, and you would definitely get the impression, whether accurate or not, that Ronnie was regretting his decision to hook up again with the boys from Sabbath, and was already thinking of getting Dio back together and composing songs for his forthcoming sixth album. Nevertheless, there's a rather lovely ballad - what? No, you heard me: a ballad. A nice, almost acoustically driven slow song, which at least slams the brakes on for a few minutes. Okay, so it doesn't remain a ballad for too long, and “Too Late” may be a prophetic title, but then, I don't actually hate this album: I just don't see the need for it. But for what it is it's quite enjoyable, if you like your metal at the grungier, crunchier end of the spectrum. Definitely making a bid for the shortest song title ever, “I” is a decent rocker and the album closes on a pretty appropriate Sabbath title, “Buried Alive”.

So after briefly revisiting his past and dipping his toes once more in the steaming, murky waters of Black Sabbath's music, Ronnie decided it was time the world heard from Dio again. Trouble was, he had lost all of his original lineup. So he had to find replacements. Again. Would Vinny Appice be coaxed back into the band, having worked alongside Ronnie again? Seems he would, and Ronnie soon found able replacements for guitar keyboards and bass, thus leading to the release of his next Dio album.

Strange Highways - Dio - 1993 (Reprise)

Deciding to go with a more straightforward approach lyrically, concentrating on modern issues rather than fantasy themes, Dio embarked on a three-album spree that would see them alienate many of their fans, who had grown used to the more progressive songs and themes used on previous albums, and indeed those who had followed Ronnie through Rainbow and Sabbath. The album kicks off solidly enough, certainly, with a good fast rocker, however the title could have caused some worry, though really “Jesus, Mary and the Holy Ghost” is hardly that much further than “Sacred Heart” or indeed “Holy Diver”, and Ronnie had courted, or at least attracted controversy from the outset, so should have been more than able to deal with it.

It's certainly a very metal start, then we're into the usual slow cruncher, though I think Ronnie was experiencing something of a hangover from his time with the boys from Sabbath, as this sounds more like it belongs on one of their albums than his. The title track then is another hard stomper, grinding along like the best of Sabbath and Dio combined, with an almost palpable sense of menace, then “Hollywood Black” keeps it heavy and slow, like a low growl rippling through the album so far. New guitarist Tracy G seems to have fit right in, and though there's not at this moment a lot of keyboard work, new keysman Jeff Pilson is kept busy anyway, as he's doubling on bass, as Jimmy Bain did originally.

Seems there's to be no letting up on the slow, heavy crunchers, as “Evilution” (see what he did there?) ;) takes the stage, and again I can hear Ozzy in the chorus: whether that's a conscious effort on Ronnie's part to poke fun at the Black Sabbath vocalist he replaced and is known not to have rated, or just an involuntary thing I don't know, but he's definitely taking a lot from his Sabbath-ical (!) - sorry! - from Dio and putting it into his music here. This could almost be a Black Sabbath album. Strange highways, indeed! There are at least some really weird and odd electronic sounds, presumably made by Pilson on the synth, which leavens out the thick heavy metal a little, and some siren sounds on the guitar from Tracy G do lighten the mood a little, but this is still pretty heavy stuff.

I'm not holding out too much hope that a song titled “Pain” is going to go anyway towards redressing the balance here between heavy, grinding metal crunchers and fast metal rockers, and indeed it would seem that hope would indeed have been in vain, as we're hit with basically the same sort of song again. I don't so much feel I'm listening to this album as being bludgeoned over the head with it, and that's not a feeling I enjoy. “One Foot in the Grave” is not, as some might expect, a musical tribute to Victor Meldrew, but is instead yet another heavy crunching doom-laden song that falls just this side of black metal really.

If I had to choose one word to describe this album, I think it would be monotonous. It's all so similar, at least thus far, and unrelentingly dark and grinding, that I find it tends to get me down. I don't like the way Ronnie growls and scowls at me from behind the mike, almost as if daring me not to listen. This is not what I've come to expect from Dio, and even the last two albums notwithstanding, this is the worst I've heard from him to date. I know of course that there's worse to come, as I have had the displeasure of sitting through the frankly awful Angry Machines, which is the album he released after this, so sadly no respite on the horizon.

Unless this can change things? A nice little gentle guitar line and a relatively easy drumbeat looks like it might be introducing a ballad, of all things. Could it be? Well, “Give Her the Gun” starts off very promising, does kick into a harder rocker a little way in, and I don't think we're in ballad territory here after all, but it does release the almost incessant pressure that's been pushing me down since the album began. Well, since the second track anyway. So we head towards the end of the album, with “Blood from a Stone” retaining the basic theme and rhythm the album has maintained throughout almost exclusively, until finally “Here's to You” kicks out the stays and Dio floor the pedal, a great fast rocker which takes us up to the closer. “Bring Down the Rain” though shows that Ronnie is unable to resist going back to the tried-and-trusted formula, slowing everything down for another rock cruncher which sets the seal on an album I personally don't like, and which alienated many of his fans, kickstarting a period that would last seven years before he would go back to the fantasy themes and melodies that had made him famous and earned him legions of fans.

Angry Machines - Dio - 1996 (Mayhem)
With Scott Warren now on keys and Jeff Pilson concentrating on bass, Dio released their seventh studio album, which I personally regard as their worst. Angry Machines made me angry! How could Ronnie have recorded such a sub-par album? I know he was trying to move away from his old image of wizards and elves etc., and had achieved a measure of distance from those themes with the last album, but this one just went over the top. Or if you prefer (and I do), right to the bottom.

The signs are not good, right from the beginning, with a real Sabbath-style grinder, “Institutional Man”, which is pretty hard going, but at least the tempo kicks up for “Don't Tell the Kids”, with a rocker in the vein of “I Speed at Night” and “Stand Up and Shout”, and a very decent guitar solo from Tracy G, though he gets a bit confused and messy on “Black”, which is just, well, terrible. Even Dio's singing grates on the nerves, and the idea in the song is so thin there is no way it can be expected to last even the three minutes plus that it runs for. Okay, maybe it's meant to sound mechanical and alien, but even so...

“Hunter of the Heart” has at least a decent, atmospheric guitar intro and a sassy little bassline before it gets going, but unfortunately when it does it's nothing new, just the same old ideas rehashed and used till they're paper-thin. Good interplay between bass and guitar, and some driving drumming from Appice, but not really enough to hook your attention for any length of time. It's followed by the longest track, another Sabbath clone which runs for just over seven minutes. “Stay Out of My Mind” again recalls the vocal style of Ozzy, and I don't know why Ronnie was doing this, or if he even realised he was. There's a nice kind of blues idea to the guitar riff in it, which is good to hear, and to be completely fair, there's a lot more thought put into this than previous tracks, indeed, albums.

There's a really quite cool strings section about halfway through, which gives way to an extended hard guitar section, and it works very well in not only filling out the song but in upping the tension and maintaining the suspense. I'd have to say, given what else I've heard on this album, this would be the standout. Could be the one decent track on the whole thing, the exception to the rule. Certainly a whole lot better than “Big Sister”, which follows in its wake, its inferiority only underlining how good Dio could be when he wanted to be, but how he often - at least, here - took the path of least resistance and ended up with substandard songs.

The only good thing about “Double Monday” is that it's the shortest track on the album, just under three minutes, then “Golden Rules” opens with the nursery rhyme “Twinkle, twinkle, little star”; sadly that's about the only good part of it, as it's largely unremarkable. “Dying in America” has at least a bit more heart about it, with some powerful grungy guitar and a pretty good solo, then we close - and it's nowhere too soon - on “This is Your Life”, which certainly surprises, turning out to be a piano ballad, with beautiful strings arrangement. I would probably go so far as to say this is close to Dio's best ballad, even notwithstanding “All the Fools Sailed Away” from Dream Evil. It's the more frustrating that it comes at the end of a really disappointing and sub-par album, still regarded by me at any rate as his worst ever. At least though it leaves you with a more tolerable taste in your mouth, and you're left humming a decent tune at the end.

The first proper live Dio album then comes during the tour for this album, released in 1998. Oddly, but thankfully, there is little of the Angry Machines album on it, and it consists mostly of music from the debut Holy Diver and The Last in Line, along with some Black Sabbath material from Ronnie's time with them, and a few Rainbow tracks. It's a double album, and therefore more representative of the full Dio catalogue, and yet, it is quite restricted.

Inferno: Last in Live - Dio - 1998 (Mayhem)

I suppose the fact that only two tracks off Angry Machines are featured on this live outing is telling: Ronnie obviously realised that the album had not sold well and was not going down well generally with the fans, so he fell back on his standards and classics, the crowd-pleasers. So you get “Holy Diver”, “Don't Talk to Strangers”, “We Rock”, “Rainbow in the Dark” as well as “Heaven and Hell”, “Long Live Rock and Roll” and a medley composed of “Catch the Rainbow” and Blackmore's old Deep Purple song “Mistreated”, but generally speaking the expected batch of songs. There's also one track off Strange Highways, but that's about it.

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