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Why Dio's solo band is so praised by the metal community, remains a mystery to me. Sure, I like this album and Holy Diver as well, but I can't understand why are those records hailed as absolute masterpieces of heavy metal. I really can't. Anyways, The Last in Line is a solid record, containing 9 typical heavy metal tunes. In fact, all the elements that made heavy metal what it is are present here: the stunning vocals, the astounding guitar solos, the heavy riffs and the catchy drum lines (plus the inaudible bass, but oh well...).
Ronnie Dio is, obviously, the man of the album. His extraordinary vocal approach absolutely dominates this record. From the screams of We Rock to the over-the-top chorus of Egypt (“the chains are ooooooooooooooooooooooon”), The Last in Line proves that he was here to stay. In fact, he was absolutely reaching his peak by 1984, with a successful solo debut already released and with his past works with Sabbath and Rainbow still in the mind of many people.
The true pearl of this album is the title track, which is not only the best song of the album, but the BEST song ever sung by Dio (yes, I'm looking at you Heaven and Hell). It begins calmly but then becomes heavier and heavier, until Dio screams and the song turns into a bone-crushing, mid-paced number. The chorus is extremely well written and catchy and everytime I listen to the song I think that it is longer than what it really is; in fact, it carries a fantastic epic atmosphere that grabs you and doesn't let you go. Egypt (the Chains are On) is another epic song, but not as good as the title track. Nevertheless, the beginning is quite interesting, with some Egyptian influenced guitar lines and the solos are quite nice.
This brings me to another important element of the record: the guitar work. Where would heavy metal be without a good guitar riff? That's right and this record has plenty of them, courtesy of the awesome Vivian Campbell. We Rock is an example of his technical proficiency. While not as good as the explosive Holy Diver opener, Stand up and Shout, this track can be considered an early speed metal take, a song authentically made for the crowd interaction (yes, the live version of this song is even better than the studio version, so go get it!). I Speed at Night is probably even faster than We Rock and is an authentic forgotten classic, with that anthemic chorus (“I just come seeking pleasure, I hate the light, I SPEED AT NIGHT... AT NIIIIIIGHT”) and the powerful, fierce drum work, courtesy of the ex-Black Sabbath drummer Vinnie Appice.
About all the other songs, there are not too many highlights here... Breathless is a typical Dio song, an average number. The same thing with Evil Eyes. Eat Your Heart Out is very forgettable, probably the worst tune of the bunch. However, there's something all the songs of this piece share: the catchiness. Every chorus will remain in your head for weeks which is a good thing, obviously, since it provides a certain durability to the whole listening experience.
Concluding, the vocals and the guitar work, allied with the overall catchiness, are the most important elements of this album. Absolutely worth getting, especially if you are a fan of Dio's past work. However, if you are seeking for an introduction to his efforts, try Holy Diver: it is much more consistent and, in overall, has better songs. Nevertheless, worth getting.
Best Moments of the CD:
-the explosive beginning of We Rock.
-the ending of The Last in Line,
-the ending of I Speed at Night.
-the first section of Egypt, with those fantastic oriental melodies.