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Nobody was doing this kind of medieval-themed metal in the 2000s (that I'm aware of or care to know about) but RJD didn't care. He knows what his fans want and he delivers. Even though the "Dragon" is a metaphor it still sounds like he's "off to see the witch" again. That ominous keyboard intro is pure Dio. In "Better In The Dark" he sings "Running with monsters in shadows/And monsters always knows it's better in the dark". Then again on "Along Comes A Spider" he sings: "Remember when you only needed no one/Everyday's tomorrow and it's alright/No confessions-not for you/Forget the things you've done/it's about what you do/The first time your superstitious/What's the gliding down/Along comes a spider." Dio's lyrics are usually open to interpretation and he uses sinister imagery as inference but he does speak of "running with an evil woman" and says "But don't get caught next time/Along comes a spider/a spider/a spider inside her". Succubus? So..."Women- can't live with 'em can't...."
The single, though a bit simplistic as regards the hook, was "Push", which earned it's own music video co-staring the obnoxious Tenacious D (sorry but Spinal Tap already cornered the market on metal parody and did so with wit rather than shock humor). It's nice that Jack Black showed his appreciation for Dio and even helped raise his profile a little higher but it's hightime he gave up this awful "metal" side project and stuck to acting. The fact the Tenacious D movie, "The Pick Of Destiny", was a box office flop should have been a sirenesque wake-up call. Once you become a parody of a parody you've officially jumped the shark. The movie has a few laughs but the best scene in the flick is the brief one with Dio although the song he appears on, "Kickapoo", is pure drivel. Meat Loaf also sucks (but he has balls (or is masochistic) to sing on the same track as Dio and thus effectively show how tremendously inferior he is vocally).
I've read many comments about this being Dio's "return to form" but then what was "Magica"? And to be honest I consider "Strange Highways" and "Angry Machines" to be solid albums as well. I saw a video recently where the man himself called "Strange Highways" one of his best albums. Dio never made a truly poor studio album so there's no need for him to "return to form". The EP "Intermission" was the record label's gaffe. Dio wanted a 2 LP live album but got stuck with that head scratcher of a stop-gap release instead.
Dio's "valleys" were not too far from his peaks and the peaks are very high. Some albums are just better than others. "Killing The Dragon" has a few mediocre songs ("Before The Fall", "Cold Feet", "Throw Away Children") but all the ingredients we (Dio fans) want are here- that amazing voice, killer guitar riffs and fantastic imagery in the lyrics. It probably ranks in the bottom third of his ten studio albums but it's still a keeper. There's some real gems here other than the title cut and "Spider". Dio's always had a concern for the welfare of children ("Who cries for the children? I dooooo" from "Stars", anyone?) so the musically plain, "Throw Away Children" reeks of sincerity:
"Someone's thrown away their children
You can see them running from your smile
Sing for the runaway children
The throw-away child"
"Someone's thrown away their children
You can hear them only if you try
Sing for the runaway children
As a side note both "Killing The Dragon" & "Magica" are out-of-print but have been re-released together as a 2 CD set for the price of one BUT the liners do not contain lyrics or session info. Instead a long and tedious fanboy essay fills the booklet. So while I purchased that 2 cd set first I have gone to buy the albums separately.
"Magica" may have served as a comeback of sorts and may have brought Dio into the millennium with a bang, but this 2002 effort may be a little closer to a return to form in terms of style. It is also the last album to feature original bassist Jimmy Bain and the only album to feature Whitesnake/Burning Rain guitarist Don Aldrich.
Musically, this album seems to completely overlook the evolution towards slower and darker material that began on "Dream Evil" and instead embraces a sound that seems to resemble that of "Holy Diver" and "The Last in Line." The atmosphere is a little lighter than the last few efforts, most of the songs themselves tend to go at an upbeat pace, the guitar riffs are executed at a higher speed, the bass is present in Bain's signature fashion, and the choruses are at their most accessible. In fact, I think I like this even more than I like "The Last in Line." While the second half of that album occasionally sank into poppy keyboard-driven territory, this album's lighter tracks such as "Push" and "Guilty" manage to retain an attitude in the midst of the shine.
But like the older albums that this release is emulating, there are a few moments of darkness that still manage come in and take center stage between the lighter affairs. The title track opens the album on a fairly epic note with a foreboding atmosphere to boot, "Scream" plays out a more focused version of "One Night In The City," and "Rock & Roll" is a slower number that channels memories of 9/11 as well as the main riff from "Kashmir."
"Throw Away Children" is another dark tune but I feel that this song really deserves its own paragraph for it may be the saddest thing that Dio has ever had a part in. The verses feature a slow, building riff under a sorrowful vocal performance and the chorus soon brings in an unforgettable hook that is only intensified by the climax's use of a children's choir. If the climax of this song doesn't affect you emotionally in any way, there's a good chance that you may have no soul. End of story.
When taking everything into consideration, this is a pretty hard album to find serious flaws for. There is a hint of the cheese that appeared on the old albums, but I don't think fans would expect any different. This is definitely an album for the fans and probably one of my favorites in spite of how late into his career it was released. Definitely a good first purchase for newer fans if you haven't already bought "Holy Diver"...
1) Great change of style
2) Excellent band performance
3) Good mix of dark and light songs
1) A slight hint of cheese
2) May be too light for some
3) A few lesser songs here and there
My Current Favorites:
"Killing the Dragon," "Scream," "Rock & Roll," "Push," and "Throw Away Children"
Killing The Dragon while Dio’s original style is much more present than on previous releases the quality is a big step downwards. First off a great deal of Killing The Dragon is filled with pointless filler. The songs are much more repetitive especially on Rock & Roll easily Dio’s worst song to date. The songs on average are longer than Angry Machines and Magica and add even more to the very repetitive nature of many of Killing The Dragon’s songs.
Most of the songs take the more mid-tempo/doom metal approach that Dio has been using since Lock Up The Wolves. The exceptions to the rule are the title track, Along Comes A Spider, and Push easily the best songs on the album. The production is very good but no production can bring the majority of these songs to life. The guitar work is very restrained and limits each song to a few simple riffs. Solos are simple and only highlight on the first two songs and Push.
The band member’s performances are solid at best but certainly not top-notch. Dio’s voice is showing his years and he just doesn’t sing like he used to. Doug Aldrich is probably the biggest reason Killing The Dragon is so disappointing putting many uninspired leads and riffs in the album. The rest of the member’s performances are solid and don’t really contribute to the downfall of Killing The Dragon.
As said above Killing The Dragon is full of uninspired songs and weaknesses. The album length and song lengths are to long and could have been shortened to take away some of the repetitive nature of the songs. At the very least Killing The Dragon is made up of half filler and half solid songs, making it very uneven. Dio seems to be at a loss of direction and making things up as he goes along.
Killing The Dragon is overall probably Dio’s worst album to date and certainly not even close to a comeback album. Best songs are Killing The Dragon, Along Comes A Spider, and Push. I only recommend this release to diehard fans of Dio otherwise please stay away for your own good.
-10 points many uninspired performances
-10 points album length and song lengths are too long
-5 points a large portion of Killing The Dragon is full of filler
-5 points Dio’s vocal performance is far from his early material
-3 points loss of direction on Killing The Dragon
On his course through the 90s, Ronnie James Dio has lost a rather large group fans. People didn’t like his more experimental, and dare I say it, modern side he had adopted back in 1994 with the release of “Strange Highways” and which he further developed in succeeding albums. In “Angry Machines”, we heard Dio dwell in a sludgy, bottom-heavy grounds and even Magica was still caught in the web of this modern approach. While I’m actually one of those people who think that Dio can do no wrong, I still very much embraced the return to the Dio of old with “Killing the Dragon”. This is one of those few albums where the “back-to-the-roots” term can actually be used in the appropriate sense.
The album kicks off with the mighty title track, which might actually one of the highlights in Dio’s career. Driven by an almost Maiden-ish galloping main riff, Dio soars his way through the track (fuck, this man was 60 years old when this was released! Unbelievable) and gives one of the best performances in years. The lead guitar playing (courtesy of Doug Aldrich, definitely the most proficient guitar player that Ronnie ever had) is stunning, boasting with lots of emotion instead of a bazillion notes played randomly on the fretboard. Definitely one of the heaviest tracks in Dio’s long career.
Of course there are more killer tracks on this album; “Push” is another one of those awesome up-tempo rockers that just kick ass. Very uplifting lyrically, Dio shines again, providing an awesome vocal line for the intriguing chorus. “Throw Away Children” changes the pace & lyrical direction radically. It almost sounds like a “Dehumanizer” leftover, but might be even more effective due to the very dark lyrical output. “Guilty” is a track for the true oldschool Dio fan – if the production was a tad aged, this wouldn’t have been out of place on “The Last In Line”, as it more than loosely resembles the melodic heavy metal ideas of songs like “Breathless” or “Evil Eyes” on said album.
I wouldn’t say that there is any filler material on here, but not everything is flawless on this record. “Along Comes a Spider” and “Rock & Roll” seem to lack direction as they (especially the latter) drag on for too long without any real highlights and the song-structures seem too predictable for repeated listening pleasure.
Apart from those two tracks, there is no real weakness to be found on this record and Ronnie James Dio proves again what he’s capable of. Even today, he’s still showing the youngsters how it’s done. A recommended, no wait, a must-have (!) album for all fans of Dio, or heavy metal in general.
Highlights: Killing the Dragon, Push, Throwaway Children, Guilty
Dio’s ‘Holy Diver’ has always been one of my favorite metal albums of all time. Obviously, I assumed Dio’s other albums must be great as well. So I picked up ‘Killing The Dragon.’ To tell you the truth, it was a big disappointment to me. No, Dio HAS written more good releases other than ‘Holy Diver,’ (‘Last In Line,’ for example, is amazing.) But out of Dio’s “amazing” albums, ‘Killing The Dragon” is definitely not one on them.
The biggest problem on here is – yes, I’m being serious – it’s boring. That is something definitely not expected from a Dio album. But no matter how much I try and listen to this album, it just won’t grow on me. I keep finding myself wanting to skip to the next track, hoping the next one will be better, while reluctantly waiting, also hoping perhaps that the one I’m currently listening to will kick off and get a little better. It doesn’t. ‘Killing The Dragon’ and ‘Cold Feet’ are Dio masterpieces. Great songs. But that’s about it. Out of 10 songs, 2 are good. The rest are mediocre, boring, and unoriginal. I would’ve expected something better from Dio.
The production here is amazing, so that’s at least one great part of the album. The guitars and drums especially are mixed very well together, and neither one of them drowns out Dio’s voice. His vocals can be heard perfectly (although, in most cases, you can hear his voice is slowly dying down – no longer the powerful vocalist that he was on ‘Holy Diver’ twenty years ago. Sorry Dio.
Don’t get me wrong. This album is not horrible. As the title says, it’s decent. It’s… average. Better than a lot of newer metal releases, DEFINITELY without a doubt better than any metalcore crap, but being average also means that there is an equally big number of better albums out there. Get it only if you’re a Dio collector. If you are simply thinking of trying out some of Dio’s work, without a doubt get ‘Holy Diver.’
Following a high innovative and progressive sci-fi concept album in "Magica", Ronnie Dio set out to release a follow-up to keep the momentum that had been building since the disappointing "Angry Machines". With Craig Goldie leaving the band almost as quickly as he had re-entered it, Ronnie tapped guitar shredder Doug Aldrich to fill the vacuum. Unlike Craig's more minimalistic and hook driven solos, Doug's work on here is very reminiscent of original Dio axeman Vivian Campbell, particularly on the faster tracks.
The overall sense of this album is one of nostalgia. Most of the songs on here are highly similar to Dio's past work either with Rainbow, Sabbath, or on his own. Songs like "Better in the Dark", "Throw Away Children", and "Along came a Spider" have extremely spooky and doom-like intros. The lyrics are especially dark on "Throw Away Children", which is essentially a song describing the rather detestable condition that some children often find themselves in when their parents abandon them.
Mid-tempo rockers like "Scream" and "Guilty" are heavily similar to his earlier 80s material, particularly tracks like "Eat your heart out" and "Breathless" off of the Last in Line. The album's most well-known track "Push" has a highly memorable main riff, spearheaded by a more positive and uplifting message in the lyrics. "Cold Feet" sounds like Dio's Sabbath era music, the song that it probably bears most comparison to is "Walk Away" off the Heaven and Hell album. "Before the Fall" is a bit similar to Ronnie's more rocking work with Rainbow, and includes a rather intricant organ solo courtesy of his current keyboardist Scott Warren.
There are two amazing songs on here that can be labeled as stand out tracks. The title track has a rather spooky sounding keyboard intro, followed by a galloping guitar line that reminds a little bit of Iron Maiden. This song is highly atypical for Dio, and contains probably the most Vivian Campbell-like guitar solo of them all. "Rock and Roll" takes my pick for the best song on here both musically and lyrically. Although the main riff sounds a tiny bit Zepplin-like, the overall spirit of the music is highly riff driven. The quiet and brief intro on this is a staple of the Dio sound that has been with us since the beginning of the band, and probably will never go away. Lyrically this song has a special place in my collection, as it challenges the censorship-happy song police who can never resist exploiting the aftermath of a true tragedy in order to deny certain people their free speech rights.
In conclusion, this is essential listening for members of the traiditional metal crowd. Fans of progressive metal might want to pick this up to for the band's historical significance as an influences on the prog. scene, as these influences are on full display here. It's not "Magica" by any stretch, but it is an excellent album, well worthy of the price it retails for.
After being exposed to a couple of songs by Dio them being "Holy Diver" and "Rainbow in the Dark" I decided it was high time that I buy an album by Dio. I was able to find "Killing the Dragon" for $5.99. Ironically enough the album was actually brand new, and sealed. Whoever got it must have lost the CD and didn't want it anymore.
I must say that as a whole this album is pretty good and impressive. The guitars, bass, drums, and vocals combine together to make some impressive heavymetal with power elements. Unfortunately the first half of this album is plagued by bits cheesiness tossed all around. Seriously, listen to the song "Killing the Dragon" and tell me that does not sound like a song they would play for the intro of a cartoon show called "Dragon Slayers".
Hell, I can even picture the damn sequence being played along with music. It's not a good sign when you can imagine in vivid detail a song being played as a children's show tune.
From "Killing the Dragon" to "Better in the Dark" these songs seem to suffer the show tune sound. Perhaps it's the overblatant happy beats in the songs that give the songs this effect. The guitars and bass seem to be tuned awfully high, and give these songs a sickenly happy feel to them.
Before the entire album turns into a syrupy cheeseball cutesy hugfest the song "Rock & Roll" comes on. The heavy/power metal is still here, but now the sounds are much darker and the guitars and bass sound as if though they have been tuned lower than previous songs. The vocals have also become more resolved and not as happy sounding. From this song foward all of the songs have gone from sickenly happy, to happy, to slightly depressing/happy.
"Throw Away Children" has some of the best drum work on the entire album, and is another surpisingly catchy song.
The first half of this album gets an 80% the second half gets a 90% for an average score of 85/100
Serious Metal: Rock and Roll, Throw Away Children, Guilty
Show Tune Metal: Killing the Dragon, Along Came a Spider
I must admit that I?ve been looking forward quite a lot to Dio?s new album Killing The Dragon, especially since I?m still not very impressed with his previous release Magica, which although being quite a solid release and a definitive improvement over Angry Machines, grew boring all too quickly due to what seemed like a lack of fresh ideas and energy (and a utterly boring concept story to accompany all of this).
The biggest change between Killing The Dragon and Magica is of course the arrival of new guitar player Doug Aldrich, who replaces Craig Goldy, and manages to do an excellent job at doing so as well. Honestly speaking Doug is probably one of the better guitar players that Dio has worked with so far, and at least manages to recapture a small part of the old magic with his excellent playing and blistering solo?s. Of course it doesn?t have to be said that both Dio?s vocals as well as the performance of the rest of the band are first class like usual.
Musically, this album reminds me most of a cross between Sacred Heart and Dream Evil, and holds up fairly well in comparison too. The main problem however is that once again, the main bulk of the material consists of slow and/or mid tempo songs, which grow tiresome after a couple of listens and makes you yearn for something a little bit more up tempo.
That doesn?t have to say though that Killing The Dragon is rubbish, and at least for me tracks like "Killing The Dragon", "Along Comes A Spider", "Push" & "Throwaway Children" (with a cute child choir at the end) easily beat anything Dio?s released over the past 6 years or so. A fairly solid but unspectular album as it stands, but it could have been so much more better with a bit more diversity brought in. Still certainly well worth having if you?re a Dio fan.
The album may not be one of dio's finest, but it is definately killing. The tracks vary from rock to metal, and tracks like Cold Feet, Guilty, and Before The Fall are absolutely nothing more but filler material. The riffing varies from faster to slower, technical to catchy.
Killing he Dragon is opened by a slaying title track, with epic lyrics about... well dungeons and dragons! The following "Along Comes A Spider" is an awesome track as well, but "Scream" is a bit of a step-down. It's the first song on the more rock side of the album. Things get better again, with "Better In The Dark", which is more in vein of the first two songs. "Rock And Roll" has a very decieving name, because the track is as metal as it gets, and in my opinion, is the peack of the release. Part of it is also the best rendition of Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" I've ever heard. After that the only trully good song is "Throw Away The Children", and all of the tracks apart from "Push" sound like filler. "Push" is definately a rock track, with a catchy riff and lyrics, but it doesn't stand up to the rest of the good tunes on the album. As for "Trow Away The Children", it has a slower, heavier riff to it, and a very catchy chorus, the song is close to being a ballad, I enjoy it a lot, especially the kid choir in the end (it fits perfectly :D). To sum it up, the best track is "Rock And Roll", the worst is "Cold Feet"
Overall, the album sounds like something in between Magica and Dio's 80's material, and though the lyrics are certainly not the best by the man, the album is fairly good.
This album starts off extremely strong with the title track. I think this song will go down as one of the classics in his solo career. It's a razor sharp metal song with fantasy lyrics like we could expect from Dio back in the early days. Along Came a Spider is more of a rock song, but it sure as hell does ROCK! I have to admit that I was not listening to metal in the 80's, but I get the same feel from this album that I do from listening to his 80's material. I don't really care for Better In the Dark that much because the main guitar line sounds too much like a typical Motley Crue type hard rock riff. The singing is still good on it though, as it is everywhere else on the cd. Dio's voice sounds as strong as ever. Don't let the name of the song Rock & Roll fool you. It's possibly the heaviest and darkest track on the album, and has less of a traditional hard rock feel than many of the others. The chorus sounds like it would be a song that could go over really well with a live audience. Push is an example of a song for which Rock & Roll would be a more fitting title, but unlike Better In the Dark, this song kicks ass. Throw Away the Children is another slow, catchy, almost-ballad. Before the Fall is a song I like even less than Better In the Dark. The band tries to do something interesting with a little organ sound in the middle, but it doesn't prevent it from being a total filler song. Unfortunately, the next and last song is only barely better. It's really a shame that this album ends on such a weak note when it started off so strong. Overall though, it's the best thing Dio's put out since Strange Highways.