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After three (and a half) albums of "medieval" themes and metal anthems what does Dio do next? He stays true to his formula. Even his "cuddly" mascot "Murray" is back on the album cover (in the window). Despite the departure of guitarist Vivian Campbell, who left and later joined Whitesnake and Def Leppard, Dio creates an album that nearly matches the legendary "Holy Diver" & "The Last In Line". Campbell's replacement, Craig Goldy, filled the shoes with no problem.
Dio's fanbase had definitely shrunk by 1987 and with the release of "Dream Evil". Partly due to the mediocre live EP "Intermission" and MTV's all-embracing love for fluffy hair alleged "hard rock" bands like Bon Jovi & Poison. Still, the LP entered the U.S. Billboard Top 200 albums at a respectable #43 (his highest LP chart placement in the US was #23 with "The Last In Line") and was another Top Ten in the U.K. Unfortunately, the album exited the charts faster than the previous albums (but eventually received Gold record status years later).
Though similar in it's more polished, slightly commercial leanings the album is a better overall work than "Sacred Heart". The reason? Better songs. No real duds. Dio had another creative spurt teamed with Goldy that produced melodic tunes like the title cut, "I Could Have Been A Dreamer" (his last track to chart in America- #33 Mainstream Rock), "Sunset Superman" and "Night People". It also contains the epic ballad "All The Fools Sailed Away", which certainly ranks in the Top 20 best Dio cuts. Many have noticed the guitar riff resembles the classic Rainbow track "Man On The Silver Mountain". Perhaps.
During interviews for "Dream Evil" Dio admitted that "Sacred Heart" was an "unhappy album to make" because of friction with Campbell. He knew there was a couple tracks on "Sacred Heart" that he referred to as "album helper" songs, his euphemism for what we call "filler". He went on to say "Dream Evil" was a conscious attempt to "return to form". Irregardless of Ronnie's humility "Sacred Heart" was still one of the best albums released in that year. "Dream Evil" is just better. One can only wonder if had this been the follow up to "The Last In Line" would it have gone platinum and kept him on the A list a little longer? Whatever the case it was the beginning of his commercial decline with each subsequent Reprise LP selling less than the previous one. So less and less promotional effort was received from the label. It had nothing to do with quality though. MTV (temporarily) ruined metal.
Dio’s fourth album has proven to be an interesting turning point in terms of the band’s history and sound. It was the first album to feature Rough Cutt guitarist Craig Goldy, the last to ever feature keyboardist Claude Schnell, the last to feature drummer Vinny Appice until 1994’s "Strange Highways," and the last to feature bassist Jimmy Bain until 2000’s "Magica."
Musically, the album seems to take the keyboard oriented sound of 1985’s "Sacred Heart" to a whole new level. While that album seemed to use the keyboards to create more commercial and, dare I say, fluffy textures, this effort uses to create a dark and foreboding atmosphere. These techniques are especially effective on tracks such as the epic "All the Fools Sailed Away" and "Naked in the Rain." Of course, the commercial tendencies of the last album are still retained in the form of "I Could Have Been a Dreamer," though the song itself is much darker than "Hungry for Heaven" or "Mystery."
Aside from the keyboards, everything else is performed in the classic standard that we’ve all come to love. The rhythm section is always solid and distinct, the riffs and solos are strong and memorable, and Dio himself continues to sing in top form. The songs themselves consist of speed metal tracks ("Night People," "Sunset Superman"), dramatic mid-tempo tunes ("Naked in the Rain," "When a Woman Cries"), and even a few bluesier numbers (The title track, "Overlove"). In fact, it makes me think of what Black Sabbath was doing at the time with vocalist Tony Martin...
While Dio’s lyrics have always been about sympathizing with the underdog and overcoming adversity, his specific themes seemed to have changed with this effort. While previous albums (Particularly "SH") dealt with themes related to fantasy and the supernatural, this tune seems to focus on more realistic ideas. Of course, there are still hints of cheese in the mire and it’s still quite the challenge to determine the meaning of tracks such as "Sunset Superman..."
Like previous efforts, this album’s main flaw seems to be related to its dated sound. The songwriting itself is done in good taste but the keyboard layering and kooky sound effects may make this an intolerable listen for closed minded metal fans. Another thing I’ve noticed is that a few songs seem to borrow from Dio’s older material. The title track’s bluesy main riff is rather similar to that of Rainbow’s "Man on the Silver Mountain" and the structure of Overlove reminds me of "Kill the King" with its energetic guitar playing and soaring vocal lines. Fortunately, it’s not that big of an issue as he’s ripping off his own bands...
Albums such as "Lock up the Wolves" would expand on what this album only hints at, but it stands alongside "Holy Diver," "LUTW," and "Magica" as one of the strongest Dio albums to date.
1) An excellent band performance, with Goldy in particular standing out.
2) Memorable songs and catchy hooks.
3) An interestingly dark atmosphere
1) Occasionally dated keyboards/sound effects
2) A few unoriginal moments
3) An over-reliance on one-liner choruses.
My Current Favorites:
"Night People," "Dream Evil," "All the Fools Sailed Away," "Naked in the Rain," and "Overlove"
One more Dio album suffering from the same problem all his other ones suffer from: the lack of variety. All the songs are too damn similar, following simple and overused structures (verse, chorus, verse, chorus, solo, chorus). On the other hand, Dio's vocals here are exceptional, very strong and powerful. He really adds something to the tunes, with his fantastic voice.
Anyways, individually, there are not many stand-outs present here. I guess “All the Fools Sailed Away” is the best song, being just a little bit more elaborated than the other songs. A decent ballad, at the end of the day. “Night People” is a good opener, great main riff. In fact, there are some worth listening riffs on the album, the title track has plenty of them now that I think of it. When the fifth track, “Naked in the Rain” kicks in, you'll probably want to stop listening to Dream Evil though, since this tune is more of the same. The same old chorus, the recycled riffs, etc, etc... The next four songs are very weak and basically... more of the same. Really, this album is just a mixture of songs that sound all the same. Please, we want variety. Production-wise, this album is almost flawless, great mixing with the keyboard playing adding a nice atmosphere to the whole record. The drums also sound great, despite the drum performance being a bit on the average side.
So, a pretty bad album, all in all. Still, there are some highlights and average songs, but I won't recommend this to anyone. Meh, if you're a big fan of Dio's work, I guess you'll enjoy this album, otherwise forget it. Imagine Holy Diver or Last in Line with weaker songs and you get a nice mental picture of what this piece is.
Best Moments of the CD:
-the beginning of the album, perhaps.
PS. the artwork rules!
Dio, being the legend that he is in the Rock and Metal scenes, needs no introduction, and this, his fourth solo album, shouldn't need one, either. This was the first album without guitar virtuoso Vivian Campbell backing our favorite metal dwarf up, and here was ushered in Craig Goldie, who is no slouch on the strings himself. Fans of the previous Dio albums (and even his work with Rainbow and Black Sabbath) won't be disappointed by this one, as it is more of the same rockish, melodic Heavy Metal that the metal world had come to expect from Ronnie James Dio. His raspy wailing is in fine shape here, and he's backed up by acrobatic guitarwork and perky, upbeat drumming that makes this a very "alive" album. It does not offer anything really new to the standard Dio sound base, but that isn't what Dio was about in the 80s - he was just about making good, solid Heavy Metal to headbang to.
The material here is still very Hard Rockish, with a distinct synth presence, some vocal layering and a nice, laid back sort of groove, but that doesn't change the fact that the riffs here just rule. "Night People," the creepy, atmospheric title track, the anthemic "Sunset Superman," album highlight "All the Fools Sailed Away," with its epic overtones and buildup, the groovy "Overlove," which packs the best guitar solo here, and the excellent, catchy "When a Woman Cries," which ends the album with a classy Hard Rock organ and a great riff. There's no excuse for not liking this one if you're a fan of Heavy Metal in the slightest. Mandatory.
Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com
Much has happened since the conception of Dio at this point, owing to some line-up changes, and these changes that include the addition of keyboardist Claude Schnell and new guitarist Craig Goldie become of great consequence on this album. Before I get into the album itself, there are some things I wish to explain about both of these musicians which would later leave the fold.
As far as I’m concerned, Craig Goldie is the best guitar player that Ronnie has ever worked with. In addition to getting the job done in the studio and writing some excellent guitar riffs (which Vivian was equally capable of), Craig is a brilliant showman when on tour and also has a more refined character to his solos. He out-classes Vivian on many levels, as he does with just about every guitar player Dio has worked with since, except perhaps Doug Aldrich who has them all beat in sheer technical ability.
Claude Schnell’s keyboard playing provided a very unique atmosphere to the Dio song that hasn’t fully been recaptured since, even by recent addition Scott Warren. But the full extent of Claude’s capabilities weren’t fully realized until this album, which sees a variety of textural motives, and a brilliant solo on “All the Fools Sailed Away”.
This is the best album from Dio’s 80s era both in terms of songwriting and production. The lyrics are powerful and loaded with symbolism, as with every Dio album. All of the songs are well defined dynamically, with nothing drowned out by the thick texture of vocals and guitars. Now let’s take a look at the breakdown of the individual tracks.
1. Night People – Very catchy minimalist guitar riffs superimposed over an orchestral synth drone. Fairly up-tempo, though not quite as lightning fast as “Stand Up and Shout” or “I Speed at Night”. The lyrics mostly highlight the lifestyle of the non-conforming metal masses, whom by nature tend to be nocturnal, hense the title.
2. Dream Evil – Classic guitar riff that is reminiscent of “Man on the Silver Mountain”. Basically this song is dominated by Craig Goldie’s catchy guitar work, and his solo is no exception in this respect. Ronnie delivers a memorable vocal performance, making this an instant classic.
3. Sunset Superman – Probably the most unique intro to a Dio song I’ve ever heard, bordering on filmscore, kudos to Claude Schnell for the brilliant synth orchestration. What follows is a barrage of memorable guitar riffs and some rather brilliant lyrics, playing upon the theme of the anti-hero. The classic enhanced low-tone vocal drones from “One Night in the City” are back once again to accompany Dio’s ad lib outro.
4. All the Fools Sailed Away – This song is my 2nd favorite Dio track to this day, it meets and surpasses all the requirements of a true metal epic. Deep philosophical lyrics, driving guitar lines, a memorable chorus, and one of my favorite keyboard/guitar solo trade-off sections of all time make this song top notch. If this song had been a single, I would have bought it just to show my solidarity.
5. Naked in the Rain – A rather gloomy sounding synth intro kicks of this track. This one is more of a mid-tempo rocker that critiques the state of society, particularly the metaphorical line “2 children, guns loaded, take aim and blow all the dreams away”. All around this song gets the job done, though it sort of fades into the mix of the rest of the song in the middle of the album.
6. Overlove – Wow, from a 1950s sounding intro to a fast paced extravaganza of guitar mayhem. Lyrics pretty much fit the title, though there is a little reference to Shakespeare’s Othello with the line “Jealousy behind the greenest eyes”.
7. I could have been a dreamer – A quasi-ballad rocker that reminds me a bit of “Mystery” off of the Last in Line album. Lyrically, this song is stronger than the one it seems to draw similarities from, but it is probably my least favorite song on this album.
8. Faces in the Window – Another up-tempo rocker that recaptures the energy that began to taper off a bit in the middle of the album. Even the bass shows some intricacy on this track as it follows a thunder volley of impressive drum fills. The rhythm section almost threatens to drown out Ronnie and Craig on this one with its sheer power.
9. When a Woman Cries – Somewhat similar to “Straight Through the Heart” from the Holy Diver album, though it doesn’t have nearly the same amount of punch to it. All in all, not a bad closer, though the lyrics do tend to bring things down a peg from the zenith that was “Faces in the Window”.
In conclusion, excellent album, the only one that can top it in my view is Magica, which sees the return of Craig Goldie after an 11 year hiatus. A must have for the Dio faithful, and for fans of traditional metal in the 80s mold.
Here we have one of the founding fathers of metal, Dio, however this is an album without Vivian Campbell and you can easily tell, the solos are really nothing spectacular. It is a rather disappointing follow up to Sacred Heart and isn't even in the same league as Holy Diver. Most can tell that this is where Ronnie really began to run short on ideas. I'm not saying this album is totally worthless(the album cover is extremely eerie, but says nothing for the music), but about 80 percent of the album is repeated simplistic choruses, the most obvious major examples being Faces in the Window, When a Woman Cries, and Overlove.
Most Dio albums tend to die out towards the end, but Dream Evil never really gets started. There are pretty much only about 3 songs here that I can listen to, those being Night People, Dream Evil, and All the Fools Sailed Away. The latter being by far the best song on the album with a very grandeur chorus and a really good solo and also decent riffs. Besides Angry Machines, I would view this as Dio's lowest moment.