VARIOUS ARTISTS - "HOLY DIO - A TRIBUTE TO THE VOICE OF METAL: RONNIE JAMES DIO" (CENTURY MEDIA)
There are few singers indeed who have left more of a mark on heavy metal and hardrock as Ronnie James Dio. With Rainbow, Black Sabbath and solo, he generally delivered fine albums. Arguably, Dio-era Black Sabbath was a big improvement over Ozzy-era Sabbath.
Last year I saw Dio in concert and I was impressed at his voice having stood the test of time. After all, the guy's been around since the mid seventies, singing a style of music that's not exactly easy on the vocal chords.
"Holy Dio" covers some of the best tracks Dio has ever recorded, including "Heaven and Hell", "Man on the Silver Mountain", "Gates of Babylon" and "The Last in Line". Inevitably, the vocalists paying tribute have really different voices from Ronnie himself. In fact, only Holy Mother's Mike Tirelli comes really close. In the case of the others, some of them are just inferior (Primal Fear, Grave Digger, Enola Gay, Jag Panzer), and others are unusual when compared to the original (Hammerfall, Fates Warning, Destiny's End). The music is almost always pretty good, though Holy Mother's drum production is below par.
Highlights on this album, which is a double CD available at a price of barely more than a single one, are Swano/Tagtgren's "Country Girl", Catch the Rainbow's beautiful "Rainbow Eyes", Hammerfall's "Man on the Silver Mountain", Yngwie Malmsteen's "Gates of Babylon" (straight off his "Inspiration" album, though), Axel Rudi Pell's "Still I'm Sad" and Steel Prophet's "Neon Knights". A very interesting tribute, this one.
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Written July 1999
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