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For a good many people the Sacred Heart album was Dio’s last effort before losing the concept, whatever that actually means. For me it’s just one more towering masterpiece in a career that would see a good deal of evolution that went beyond the 80s into the current day, with its share of ups and downs. The two songs found on this particular single represent the duality of the sound of Dio during the early years quite effectively; those being epic masterpieces and solid speed oriented metal.
“King of Rock and Roll” is speed metal in a sense, but it lacks the over the top double bass work that was stereotypical of the thrash scene and the newly forming German speed metal scene. It features a simple rhythm guitar approach with a quick pace from verse to chorus, the solo is short and an even mix of speed and melody, and the ending (or Coda) is dragged out so that Ronnie can showcase his ability to vary his lyrics in an almost ad lib fashion. There is a recorded audience to simulate a live performance, but in truth, there is very little difference between Dio’s studio work and his live performances, something that sadly isn’t always the case with today’s metal bands.
“Sacred Heart” is basically a more keyboard heavy variation on the same formula that made “The Last in Line” an instant classic. You can even hear variations in the rhythm guitar part that seems like they were borrowed from that song. Likewise, the solos are carefully crafted to stick in your memory, as if being a composed and elongated melody that you can almost sing along to, save the shred sections. The main riff that comes and goes from the intro to the chorus and back again at the end is unforgettable, even if you don’t much care for Dio, you’d know this song if it came on the radio, which sadly will probably never happen.
Basically a collector’s item to be sought out for vinyl enthusiasts, this single is a rarity that will no doubt be difficult and costly to obtain. I knew someone who had a hold of it a few years ago; though I have a feeling he probably numbered among the few hundred lucky enough to have a copy in tact. If you have a similar obsession for Dio as I do, this might be worth picking up, although it would probably be better to just get the Sacred Heart album on vinyl to kill two birds with one stone.