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After an excellent debut, Dio roared back with this slab of Heavy Metal goodness. There are a lot of similarities to Holy Diver on Last In Line but there are some subtle differences too. The end result is almost equally as impressive though, and Last In Line stands as one of the highlights of Dio’s career.
The first thing I noticed when listening to this release was the fact that the songs in general were faster. Holy Diver was largely a mid-paced CD, done very well mind you, but only “Stand Up And Shout” could be considered fast. Last In Line proves that Dio can write faster Heavy Metal tracks such as “We Rock”, “I Speed At Night”, and “Evil Eyes”, and succeed at them. Of course, the mid-paced song writing of Dio is in full effect on Last In Line as well. Basically, the title track is this CD’s version of Holy Diver, being very similar in overall arrangement and atmosphere. Though the Holy Diver title track might be a stronger song than the Last In Line title track, it still stands as a highlight of the CD with its memorable chorus and progressive build up. “Mystery” is also this CD’s version of “Rainbow In The Dark”. It has the same kind of keyboard melody driving the song and while not bad, “Rainbow In The Dark” is superior.
The riffs by Vivian Campbell are very well done again, this time taking on more of an 80’s Metal approach than the rock influenced guitar riffs we heard on Holy Diver. The result can best be heard on “We Rock” and “Eat Your Heart Out” which both have excellent pure 80’s riffs; you just don’t hear stuff like this anymore. Meanwhile, Campbell’s leads are competently executed, though they’re not as instantly memorable as they were on Holy Diver, however, “Egypt (The Chains Are On)” has one of Campbell’s better leads. Likewise, the drumming is more dynamic, however, the bass doesn’t seem as prominent, which is unforunate. As if there was any doubt, Dio’s vocals are amazing as always. He sings with a lot of emotion and instantly makes every song have a memorable chorus, which is always important for this type of Metal. Also, while Holy Diver had a couple of songs that featured keyboards, Last In Line seems to use them more often as mentioned by another reviewer. They are really only up front in “Mystery”, though, but can be heard in the background on most other tracks as they usually add just a touch of melody or atmosphere.
Last In Line is very close to being as good as Holy Diver. It has some of my favorite songs from Dio but when you go on a song per song basis Holy Diver has more classics, however, the song writing is more varied on Last In Line, as the band mixes fast, mid-paced, and progressive tracks more diversely this time around. Anyway you look at it though this is a classic 80’s Heavy Metal release: it has soaring vocals, excellent choruses, solid riffs, and explosive leads. Can’t ask for much more than that.
Song Highlights: We Rock, Last In Line, Speed At Night, Eat Your Heart Out, One Night In The City, Egypt (The Chains Are On)