without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
There are basically no instances that I can recall where I’ve felt any sort of anticipation for the release of a compilation, save for this one. Being someone who has made it a point to own everything with RJD and Sabbath’s names on it, there would naturally be little reason for me to bother spending anything more than a few dollars on a best of album unless I was able to get some rarities to go with it. But in the case of this album, I was in the unique position to witness something that I had hoped would happen for the better part of 10 years, the resurrection of Black Sabbath as a creative force.
There are basically two ways in which to judge this compilation, the first of which is as an EP carrying 3 brand new songs from a lineup that had been on hiatus for 15 years. In this respect, “The Dio Years” is a perfect release, as the new songs contained within are nothing short of amazing. Essentially all of the best modern elements of “Dehumanizer” have been merged with the simplicity of the band’s earlier efforts with Dio. “The Devil Cried” is cut a little bit closer to the standard slow grooving yet rocking nature of songs off the “Heaven And Hell” album such as “Lady Evil” and “Lonely Is The Word”. “Shadow Of The Wind” represents the punishingly slow aspect of the band that was really emphasized on slower songs present on “Dehumanizer”, though in a bit more of a spooky character as heard on the Tony Martin fronted album “Cross Purposes”. “Ear In The Wall” is where the band sort of steps away from the modern character of their 90s sound, except in terms of production, and presents a catchy up tempo riff monster that sounds a bit closer to Dio’s work in the past few albums since “Magica”, but with a darker character. Basically each of them have a uniqueness that sets them apart from past works, yet retains the familiarity necessary to be immediately associated with this franchise.
Insofar as the second way that this album is to be judged, which is as a greatest songs collection, a slightly flawed picture emerges. Although there was never really a weak song to be heard out of any of the albums in congress on here, this does suffer for the lack of inclusion of several, making one wonder how this would listen with a couple of substitutions. As fun as “Lonely Is The Word” is for those of us who long drawn out guitar solos, this compilation was a missed opportunity to include one of this band’s most underrated and definitely essential songs “Wishing Well”, which would showcase the band in a much more animated and varied light. Likewise, although “Voodoo” has a really fun main riff, the absence of the classic slow paced epic “Sign Of The Southern Cross” is felt, in spite of the near equally great and lesser known rival of said song “Falling Off The Edge Of The World” has made it onto here, which was quite surprising. And as far as the “Dehumanizer” collection is concerned, my favorite song “Computer God” was passed up in favor of the slower and slightly less interesting “After All (The Dead)”, missing an opportunity once again to offer an epic alternative to what largely appears as a modern yet bare bones collection of songs from a very multifaceted album.
In spite of these slight disappointments that sort of bring down the power of the whole release, this is a well put together compilation. The approach to track ordering and pacing is well realized, avoiding the abrupt jolts in style that often occur in grab-bag oriented collections of pre-released material. This is basically what Megadeth’s “Capitol Punishment” could have been if that band had been as stylistically consistent as their older forefathers here have been and had put more effort into writing the accompanying new material. This is the only Dio era Sabbath compilation that is essential, if for no other reason in that the new songs on here blow everything that this band has done since 1994 completely out of the water.
Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on May 8, 2009.
It's about time that they came out with a Dio-years greatest hits package; since they have 385 compilations of the Ozzy Osbourne years (give or take). I was nervous when I first heard that they were putting one out, as many greatest hits CD's of bands that didn't really have hit singles typically do a poor job of selecting the band's "best" tracks.
Thankfully "The Dio Years" is nearly perfect in its selection of songs, they even included a song that I figured was one of their lesser-known songs, "Falling Off the Edge of the World." Despite not being as widely publicized as "Iron Man," or even Black Sabbath with Dio's "Children of the Sea," this is probably one of the best songs that the band has ever written, with Dio, Ozzy, or any other singer. Of course, that's not to say that this album is made up of all sleeper songs, and it's kind of hard to screw this up, considering that this basic lineup only did three albums together, but I digress. Classics from all three albums like "Heaven and Hell," "Voodoo," and "I" are incorperated; including a live-version of "Children of the Sea" from the amazing "Live Evil."
The only two glaring omissions are "Sign of the Southern Cross" and "Computer God." The former isn't even such a bad thing because the album it came off of, "The Mob Rules," is so good that any self-respecting metalhead should own it, even if they get this best-of album. The exclusion of "Computer God" isn't so forgivable, however, because not only is it the opener off of "Dehumanizer," it's arguably the best song and by far one of the most diverse. Since "After All (The Dead)" and "I" were also included, "Computer God" would have made the purchase of "Dehumanizer" senseless, as the only worthwhile songs on that album would have been included here. Replacing "Computer God" is the throwaway "Time Machine," most likely added solely because it was a single off of the album.
The new songs are fantastic. They were all recorded with the "Mob Rules" and "Dehumanizer" lineup, minus keyboardist Geoff Nichols. Actually, there aren't any keyboards at all, which makes Tony Iommi's heavy-as-fuck guitar sound all the more potent. "The Devil Cried" and "Shadow of the Wind" are slow and bludgeoning tracks with several classic riffs and some of Iommi's better leads. "Ear in the Wall" is more up-tempo, yet is just as memorable as its two slower counterparts, once again the leads are tremendous.
Tony Iommi seemed to be leaning more towards a hard-rock direction with his last solo album with Glenn Hughes, but here he shows he can still destroy any modern guitarist. Compare the quality and heaviness of these riffs with anything Lamb of God or Chimaira are putting out and it is obvious that Tony Iommi, however many albums and countless riffs later, can still destroy any frauds out there with one smooth stroke on his guitar.
What we have here is one of those rare instances where the greatest hits album is actually worth purchasing even if you own all of the studio albums from which most of the songs on here are taken from. Get it as something to pop into your car stereo when you want to impress your friends or something to put in your boom box when you're washing your car. Just get it, dammit.