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Rocks hard, but in a pointless way. - 60%

hells_unicorn, May 19th, 2009

Having a large collection of cloned or otherwise useless compilations under your name is something of an occupational hazard if you’re an established name in heavy metal. Few suffer from this dilemma more than the founders of the genre Black Sabbath and many of its members who since went on to their own projects, and although Dio has been an established name on his own, he has a fair share of pointless releases under his moniker. This particular release essentially functions as a poor man’s “Stand Up And Shout: The Dio Anthology”, as it covers most of the esteemed metal icon’s career since the 1970s. They took the route of less Elf material and more Rainbow and Dio songs, which results in a much heavier and more progressive character, but botch the song ordering and essentially churn out a two disc version of most cheap song sampler versions of compilations that ought to go for $4 a pop at best.

To give you an idea as to how random this comes off at times, I invite you to listen to the song “Hoochie Koochie Woman” from Ronnie’s Elf days and then listen to either “Sign Of The Southern Cross” or “Dream Evil” immediately afterward and then tell me if placing a formulaic old school rock song with an exceptional vocal performance next to either a longwinded acoustic doom epic or a heavier and faster version of “Man On The Silver Mountain” with a 1987 production would make sense when listening to an album, compilation or not. There is very little sense of pacing going on here at all, apart from a compilation that tries desperately to sound unique from those that use either the tried and true chronological approach, or some variant of an album emulation approach where the songs are placed in a certain order to simulate the feeling of listening to an actual studio release. The only place where this even begins to succeed at sounding like the latter of these two approaches is at the beginning with “Holy Diver”, which has that pristine keyboard intro with the sound of wind in the distance, a perfect segue to any album.

A positive aspect of this album that does make it a superior one to many single CD compilations is that the greater amount of space gave the compilers the ability to represent every album in Dio’s lengthy career with his own band. Too often albums such as “Lock Up The Wolves” and “Dream Evil” are woefully under represented and sometimes not at all, but here everything seems to be equal, though there is a little bit of a tilt towards “Holy Diver” and “The Last In Line”, which is typical of most compilations under the Dio name. The choice of “Evil Eyes” was a particularly interesting choice given that it essentially functions as the missing link between the two albums represented here, having the more keyboard oriented character of “The Last In Line”, but also having a really hard edged riff approach that is fairly similar to “Stand Up And Shout” and “Don’t Talk To Strangers”. The only disappointment here is that from the vast number of great songs off of “Lock Up The Wolves”, they had to go with the obligatory title track, which is all but interchangeable with the similarly slow and doom driven “Shame On The Night”.

I give this album credit for making some interesting song choices and for attempting to differentiate itself from the rest of the point, but this is not something that I recommend parting with monetary wealth over. You get songs on here that you won’t get on the similarly long compilation “Stand Up And Shout: The Dio Anthology”, but you don’t get any songs that can’t be found on other releases, whereas with the latter you get more Elf songs that are hard to come by and a solid live version of “Sacred Heart”. If you like anything by Dio from his respective work with Rainbow and Sabbath, save up your pennies and get one of his full length releases from his 80s back catalog, you’ll thank me later.