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Ronnie James Dio has always possessed an uncanny ability at turning the most mundane of ideas into pure poetry. Never was this more clear than when he penned the lyrics for the opening speed metal fest off of “The Last In Line” that became the 3rd and final promotional single before said album’s release. With a title like “We Rock”, the unsuspecting newcomer would instantly expect a bunch of goofiness in line with what was being churched out by Warrant and Helix around the same time, or perhaps at best a semi-intelligent party song in line with Warlock’s latest homage to Judas Priest. But after closer examination commences, what is discovered is a deep and philosophical anthem that highlights Dio’s views on life, religion, and heavy metal.
In contrast to “The Last In Line” and “Mystery”, which indicate a complete move to a larger arena-like character of song creation, “We Rock” maintains most of the heavier and aggressive aspects of “Holy Diver”. The atmosphere does lean a bit towards an arena character, but not much more than “Stand Up And Shout” did, and the riff assault is a good bit meaner, drawing some similarities to contemporary albums like “Screaming For Vengeance” and “Piece Of Mind”. It has one of those choruses that will never leave the memory of whoever hears it, as well as a scaled back and accessible, yet still quite expressive guitar display out of Vivian Campbell, who had previously set himself up to be among the more insane guitar shredders of 1983.
The b-side of this now quaint little double feature demonstrates more of a modernization of an old approach more applicable to Dio’s past work with Rainbow. The principle riff of “Breathless” is where the primary strength lies, as that hard pounding power chord approach that was first explored on “Smoke On The Water” and then perfected on “Man On The Silver Mountain” scarcely ever fails when it’s employed. There is a simple charm to Ronnie’s vocal interpretation, but for the most part, this is a plainer, mid-paced, rock oriented song that is primarily carried by a single, catchy theme. It’s one of the lesser rated songs to appear on “The Last In Line”, but still quite fulfilling in itself.
If nothing else, it can be observed that Dio, like most well established acts, don’t simply decide to be a complete stylistic 180. A logical evolution of the band’s sound can be established here as it moves away from the raw, hard edged, Sabbath-like character of “Holy Diver” to both the lighter and radio friendly “Sacred Heart” and the complex and insightful “Dream Evil”. But for those who are steady adherents to the regimented diet of all things heavy metal, it’s just one more piece off of a grand cake that was the metal movement of the 80s. Eat in good health.