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Released less than a year after the success of their self-titled album, Rainbow's "Rising" finds Richie Blackmore further exploring the fantasy metal themes hinted at earlier. It seemed that the more that Blackmore and singer Ronnie James Dio wrote music together, the stronger their chemistry got. They are the only two members that returned from the debut. "Rising" marks the entry of drumming legend Cozy Powell into the band, and he adds considerable rhythmic strength to the songs he's allowed to open up on (like "Stargazer," for instance). Other times he plays the role of a typical rock drummer.
This album suffers, at times, from what all of the Rainbow albums suffer from: too much restraint in order to promote accessibility. The production lacks any sense of heaviness at times. "Do You Close Your Eyes" is such an awful song that it tarnishes the whole album (especially if you have it on vinyl and can't skip it). Despite its long length, "A Light In The Dark" is more of a poppier song with a long, yet surprisingly boring, instrumental section in the middle. This band has a lot of potential, but Blackmore and Powell's restraint keeps adequate songs like "Starstruck" and "Run Like the Wolf" from achieving anything greater.
On the other hand, we have "Tarot Woman," which could easily be a metal song had the guitars not been neutered in the studio. Dio shines on vocals and Blackmore has a good solo in the middle, but it's the guitar riffs and incredible drumming by Cozy Powell that make this song so great. We also have "Stargazer," which is arguably Rainbow's best song and contains what is easily Blackmore's best guitar solo recorded in the studio while with Rainbow. This is a song that influenced countless metal bands (thankfully they chose this song and not "Do You Close Your Eyes"). Both of these songs are hurt by Tony Carey's incredibly dated "futuristic" keyboard sounds and would have been far better served by the heavy organ sounds of a Jon Lord or Ken Hensley-type of player.
Overall, "Rising" is a decent album with a couple of spectacular songs. In all honesty, one could probably skip the purchase of this album and go with the Rainbow anthology instead, unless maybe if they are a completist. Dio gives some great performances, but even he cannot save some of the lackluster songwriting. This is far from a classic, but certainly has historical value and was most likely a great influence on many of your favorite bands.