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When this live album was recorded Dio was into his sixtieth year, his performance is great especially since he is so old and still touring like a mad man, but his voice isn't in top form on all the songs. Evil Or Divine: Live in New York while being quite good especially for a live album doesn’t really have any songs that haven’t been on previous compilations or live albums by Dio except for some newer material from Magica and Killing the Dragon. The production is top notch and really makes this album shine, and the rest of the members are on the top of their game as well. Many of Dio’s more speed metal oriented songs on here are even faster live especially We Rock.
The problems with this album sadly are partly because of Dio while for the most part he does these classics justice, you can tell his voice isn’t what it used to be. Again the track listing is also a flaw the Rainbow and Black Sabbath songs have been played live enough and it would have been better if he pulled out some more classic Dio songs. King of Rock and Roll, Strange Highways, Lock Up The Wolves, and Sacred Heart are just some of Dio’s classics that I would have enjoyed much more on this album. Another problem is that Evil Or Divine relies too much on material from Killing The Dragon which was a disappointing release, and worse not even the best songs off that album are even present. Unfortunately the main reason why Evil Or Divine relies so heavily on Killing The Dragon because this album was recorded from that tour.
The album highlight is certainly Doug Aldrich’s excellent 9 minute solo which has multiple styles like blues, shred, classic metal, and even a hint of neo-classical metal throughout its duration. Overall a great live album that is quite enjoyable to listen to. The best songs are Egypt/Children of the Sea (A great mix of both songs), Don’t Talk to Strangers, the Guitar Solo, and We Rock. I recommend this album to fans of Dio and any fan of classic metal looking for a good live album.
-6 points Dio’s somewhat erratic performance
-7 Track listing could have been much better
-7 Relies too much on material from Killing The Dragon
The year was 2003 and Dio had been riding high on the waves of a Metal Renaissance that began in Europe and has gradually been working its way into the states. The subsequent tour following the successful and musically inspired album “Killing the Dragon” yielded an amazing set of performances, one of which I was lucky enough to personally witness from the 12th row at the Star Lake Pavilion in Pittsburg where they Co-Headlined with the Scorpions and Deep Purple (the last tour with Jon Lord on the keys I might add). For those of you who didn’t manage to catch any of those shows, this DVD is a good substitute for the original experience, though obviously not quite as exhilarating.
One of the advantages that Ronnie Dio had on this tour over previous ones is that he had the most technically and musically proficient set of musicians behind him ever. Bassist Jimmy Bain holds the bottom of the arrangement strongly, as he has consistently done since he and Dio began their collaboration in Rainbow. Drummer Simon Wright puts on a hell of a technical display during his allotted solo time, making one wonder how he managed to keep those insanely simple beats when in AC/DC without having a breakdown. Scott Warren proves apt to the task of playing all keyboard parts previously handled by the likes of Jens Johansen and Claude Schnell. But the true technical wizard of the bunch proves to be Doug Aldrich, whose interpretations of the various solos coined by Dio’s previous collaborators is rivaled only by his amazingly varied display during his own solo sections, hitting upon such contrasting styles as Classical, Rock, Jazz, and Blues.
The collection of songs on here draw from nearly every era of Dio’s solo career except one, the Tracey G years, which is fitting as any metal artist would rather forget the era that those songs were written in, regardless to how good or bad each one was. The classics such as “Holy Diver”, “We Rock” and “Rainbow in the Dark” are all handled well, though “The Last in Line” steals the show as always. The Magica material is done mostly well, although Doug’s interpretation of the main riff to “Fever Dreams” is a little bit sloppy. The newer material is in good order, “Rock and Roll” being the highlight as it contains a brilliant aside on free speech by Ronnie before it gets started, as well as a stellar vocal performance.
Some rather pleasant surprises that appeared on here include a revamping of the set list, which has changed little since the tours of the first two Dio LPs. They have opted to drop the “Long Live Rock and Roll/Man on the Silver Mountain” medley, which I personally was never really fond of as both of those songs would tend to be butchered in that format. “Heaven and Hell” is performed a lot closer to its original album version, which is another welcomed change as the whole “Big Black Shape/Little White Shape” interlude got old shortly after the Sacred Heart tour. We do have a medley in the form of “Egypt (The Chains are on)/Children of the Sea”, which is not a bad match and brings back two songs that have not enjoyed a lot of play in recent years.
The extras on this DVD include a rather humorous music video of “Push”, featuring Tenacious D doing a funny version of “Heaven and Hell” and Ronnie throwing his own brand of comedy into the mix. The fact that this video didn’t enjoy much play on any of the various Music Video stations is telling about the moronic nature of the mainstream and its various media outlets, but for the perspective DVD shopper this purchase would be a key to liberating itself from the simpleton steeped airwaves. The behind the scenes footage is also interesting, as is the interview where Ronnie gives a brief retrospective of his career and his philosophical viewpoints.
Implied in the release of this DVD is a plain yet subliminal message, “GET OFF YOUR ASS AND BUY THIS”, it is directed at all fans of Dio old and young. After 17 years there is a new version of the Dio live experience on the video medium and it is sure to please. To those of you who thought that Dio was a has been and that he would hang it up at the turn of the millennium, may you suffer and die listening to the audio of this DVD being played at full blast by your neighbors knowing just how wrong you were.
This album features Doug Aldrich on guitar, who not only was Dio's guitarist during Craig Goldy's unexpected absence in 2002 but is also current Dio guitarist because of Craig's unfortunate accident in 2005. But that aside, this album showcases some of his best playing. The entire band was spot on this night, and the recording quality was exceptional.
My only bone to pick with this album is that 2 tracks from the DVD, Drum Solo and Lord of the Last Day were not on it. I realize that is for time reasons, but they could've easily swapped out Lord of the Last Day for Fever Dreams, since it's the only song Doug didn't quite pull off.
This album starts with Killing The Dragon, and as usual Ronnie's voice is spot on for a man of so many years. And Doug's guitar playing is even better than in the studio, especially with his killer guitar solo. Then you get solid blocks of Dio classics until you get to Don't Talk To Strangers. This is an amazing track, namely again because of Doug's guitar solo. Vivian Campbell would've shed a tear over how tastefully done Doug did this solo in the same phrasing as he did oh so many years ago.
One more track, and then you get Doug's guitar solo. Yet again, an amazing guitar solo. You can really tell that he is influenced by guys like Hendrix and Tony Iommi as you listen to the things he plays.
Then another song, and then you get to Fever Dreams. This is where I am sad, becuase Doug kind of screwed up the rhythm and main riff to this song. That's why I think Lord of the Last Day should've been on here, since he didn't screw that song up at all. Needless to say, it's still not too bad.
After that comes Holy Diver... Very well done, but it sounds like Ronnie is wearing down just a little (but he bounces back after this song, so no worries). The guitar solo here is too sloppy which is a partial detract. It sounds almost rushed.
Then you get more solid Dio [and Black Sabbath] classics... Notable is Heaven and Hell with it's guitar solo and tempo change, as well as for the extra line of lyrics Ronnie adds in.
But the show closes with an amazingly upbeat version of We Rock with a great guitar solo with some added "WE ROCKS" and "YOU ROCK" at the end that make it classic.
So really, this is almost better than a compilation album, because you get to hear how good the band is in action. Unfortunately when you listen to the CD you can't see all the 'devil horns' that Ronnie flashes on the DVD that seal the deal, but the CD definitely proves that this band can rock hard and throw down with the best of them. If only they had thought a little more about Fever Dreams versus Lord of the Last Day, this album could've been perfect.