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Yes, from the other two reviews you can probably tell that this album is goddamn slow. But Dio never did an entire album of "Stand Up And Shout"-type songs, there's always been your midtempo "Invisible" and "Shame On The Night" type songs, it's just that on this album these slower tunes are far more dominant than on Dio's classic material, and these songs are not quite as good as his mid tempo classics like (think "The Last In Line" or "Egypt (The Chains Are On)"). This one's also quite heavily keyboard influenced, but it's for the most part used to quite good effect- see title track. The biggest problem I have with this new Dio CD is not the lack of speed metal ferocity, when I want that I'll go to Sodom. The thing is, the guitarwork here is rather pathetic for the album of a Heavy Metal legend such as Ronnie James Dio.
Many of the songs have a pretty solid base of guitar riffs and nothing that stands out as awkwardly bad, but nothing that blasts out and make you go "Fuck yeah, that's metal!" either. The guitars mostly stay in the background and don't do much at all, and there certainly seems to be something lacking all through the album.
Still, songs like "The End of the World" and "One More For The Road" has enough solid guitarwork to keep the song rocking, it just isn't enough to create any metal classics. That's pretty much what this is, just another metal record among them. Nothing groundbreaking, no modern classic, just another fun addition to your metal CD collection.
I'd start with pointing out the definite highlights of the album. Two songs stand out above them all - First off, the rocking opening track "One More For The Road" is possibly the fastest song on here, catchy as hell, vintage Dio, with his classic powerful vocals delivering punchy, memorable vocal lines that stick easily to your mind. "Nice day for a crucifixion!" Hell yeah, it is. And the other standout being "I Am", a midtempo track with an overall great mood and the catchiest chorus on here, a blast to sing along to. "I am, I am stronger than the wind!" Nice lyrics too, and overall a powerful track.
Also, "Master of the Moon" is pretty fun. The opening is bizarre with a bunch of different effects before the song starts going into an odd heavily synthesized vers accompanied with Dio's as usual very good and insightful lyrics, and overall this song has a pretty cool atmosphere and is a real grower. So is the whole album, in fact, it's gotten alot better since my first listen.
"The End of the World" also kicks ass, and has one of those melodies that just Dio can make, that just somehow makes you feel real good, although the lyrics seem to have a pretty depressive perspective on rock n' roll these days, which makes sense since Dio somehow has failed to notice that it's all alive and well. But still, a damn good song.
There's quite a bunch of odd songs here, like the heavily synthesized "Shivers" and also "The Eyes", mostly remarkable for the bizarre and rather annoying guitar effects. These aren't bad songs, but rather mediocre.
Overall, there's good stuff and there's less good stuff, but nothing I'd say is downright bad, except possibly the slow "The Man Who Would Be King", which just doesn't get anywhere, and features the most boring guitarwork on here.
Still, hardcore Dio fans should get this, if you can tolerate the obvious lack of speed metal on here and give the midtempo tunes some time to sink in. Nothing extraordinary unfortunately with the tenth Dio studio album, the best part is probably the awesome album cover which reminds me of this old video game, "Illusion of Time", which kicks ass. But I'll find some more nerdy place to rave about that.