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The Evil Dreams of a Wicked Metal Genius - 92%

bayern, July 28th, 2017

The album reviewed here got such a wide circulation around the Bulgarian radio channels in 1987 that at some stage there wasn’t a single metal head in the country who didn’t have it in a safe place in his/her collection. Dio’s “The Last in Line” vinyl was readily available in the record shops before that, further adding to the guy’s enormous popularity on the other side of the Iron Curtain. For some reason Dio, Black Sabbath, and Scorpions were not banned during the 80’s so their albums were easy to find in the studios while Twisted Sister, W.A.S.P., Judas Priest, and Iron Maiden, to give a few examples, were featured prominently on the very top of those “banned bands” lists. Ridiculous, truly ridiculous stuff, but what could you do; such were the times…

It’s quite ironic, in a sad way though, that it was the Epitome of Metal (R.I.P.) who tested the poppy, radio-friendly waters with “Sacred Heart”, helping Motley Crue, whose “Theatre of Pain” was released just a few months earlier, in the establishing of the cheesy side of metal. Not a very dignified moment from the man’s discography, but all was forgiven as it sold very well, the audience picked on those new melodic sounds way too fast, and didn’t exactly stain the man’s career.

Once the album reviewed here came out, everyone sighed with enormous relief as apparently the previous opus was just an isolated experiment as “Night People” shows too well, a bouncy boisterous opener with an open speedy swagger regardless of the tangible keyboard presence. The title-track is the staple for the band hit with a big commercial potential, nothing overtly cheesy here; and “Sunset Superman” is the next in line exhibition of less bridled energy, a glorious rousing anthem that sees our small, vociferous superman shaking off the cheese completely, serving one of the finest ballads of the 80’s right after, “All the Fools Sailed Away”, a poignant composition, one of the guy(s)’ highest achievements. “Naked in the Rain” is a heavy brooder recalling the man’s days with Black Sabbath in an introspective epic manner; and “Overlove” is the exact opposite to it, a brisk fast-paced cut with lashing riffs and breezy screamy leads. “I Could Have Been a Dreamer” is a sure reminder of the poppy aesthetics of the preceding album, a relaxed “dreamy” (definitely not evil) piece bordering on the semi-ballad, totally cancelled by the excellent “Faces in the Window”, another prime heavy metal anthem with a nice memorable chorus and dynamic semi-galloping tendencies. Back to the previous saga’s mellower overtones with the closing “When a Woman Cries”, this time a full-fledged semi-ballad, but a good enough epitaph to this enjoyable, diverse roller-coaster.

Dio tried to balance things to an extent here since the last effort was at least a positive commercial step, but at the same time he didn’t want to delineate his core fanbase, and the result was this compelling “evil dream”, a sure-handed entry into the 1987 heavy metal catalogue beside Warlock’s “Triumph & Agony”, Black Sabbath’s “Eternal Idol”, Helloween’s “The Keeper of the Seven Keys I”, and Udo’s “Animal House”. For one thing, Dio was the main contender to the Big Five (Scorpions, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Accept), and he managed to preserve both his integrity and the high quality of his music all the way to the end of the decade, including on the slightly divisive “Lock Up the Wolves”. The Voice of Metal seldom put a foot wrong although some consider his ill-fated return to Sabbath territory in 1992 for “Dehumanizer” was such one having in mind the acrimonious circumstances under which he had to leave again although the former comrades joined efforts once more under the Heaven & Hell moniker many years later. Even on the more experimental works (remember “Angry Machines”) during the 90’s he left his trademark stamp, and who knows how many more interesting works he was going to provide for the fans if it wasn’t for his untimely passing. The music world was robbed off one of its greatest artists, off one of the most important “evil” dreamers in metal history… rest in peace, and… Up the horns!

A Sign of Recovery - 85%

ballcrushingmetal, April 21st, 2017

Dio took the world by surprise with this album, and also took the band back to life after the decadent predecessor. In general terms, the album is still following the basic blueprint from previous works, but this time, Dio was more focused on providing it with a melodic vibe rather than on pretending to make aggressive stuff. The riffs from their new guitarist are still harsh and heavy as hell, and the drumming work done by Appice came back to life, but the choruses are not as aggressive as they used to be. Rather, they are more catchy and melodic, which results hard to believe considering how powerful and emphatic was his voice.

Despite the fact that the Campbell's departure from the band was like a strong punch in the face for the project, Dio moved quickly and hired the young talented guitarist Craig Goldy. He had a somehow similar guitar playing style, though Campbell was more fluent (let's say, somewhere around all those guitarists who were part of Shrapnel Records). Nevertheless, Goldy was efficient with his instrument and able to play solos at an acceptable speed, and he also played tremendously harsh riffs in the Campbell's vein. Of course, there are many examples throughout the album. And for his luck, he was not disturbed by the excessive keyboards used in a commercial aim for the previous release, nor even limited to their narrow-minded songwriting work, as Campbell was in "Sacred Heart".

Appice took his drumming back to the levels of intensity and dynamism that the fanatics of the band were used to, being "Over Love" his most significant moment. That said, the album features an excellent set of songs. "Night People" is the kind of song that would be recurred in the next following releases (for instance, "Better in the Dark") and is fast and efficient. The title-song runs slower and is one of the most melodic moments in Dio's vocal performance. Its riffs are memorable, and the song itself is such an excellent composition. However, no one around would expect from Dio such a frenetic speed metal track in the levels of "Over Love". Even though the ZZ Top-inspired intro riff was not precisely the most appropriate way to begin such an insane track, the guitar playing work afterward is quite efficient. The solo is quite crazy, and it would make you move the tapes/CD backward like twenty times so that you can enjoy it over and over. Other interesting highlights include cuts like "Sunset Superman" and "I Could Have Been a Dreamer". Both songs are part of the melodic orientation of the band and are average Dio, except for the melodic passages of course.

Although it is not an essential album, it is for sure a symbol of hope for a project that was deadly injured. Fortunately, Dio did not apart from this path, and the next following albums would be as good as this one (except for "Angry Machines", which is the most forgettable release in their catalog). However, the band will make some changes in their musical foundation going forward. The next album will show a more doomish sound from which the drumming style of Appice would never move, especially after the release of the Black Sabbath album "Dehumanizer". Having said the above, what you should do at this point is enjoy the album and let the music run wild.

One of my three favorite Dio solo albums - 90%

morbert, March 17th, 2016
Written based on this version: 1987, 12" vinyl, PolyGram

Ronnie James Dio, the little big man who became world famous when eventually joining Rainbow, Black Sabbath and of course singing on the Roger Glover song ‘Love Is All’ from 1975 which pretty much everyone knows, including our parents. He who even managed to become a succesful solo artist back in the eighties. 5 albums of him I still hold dearly from which 3 are utter highlights. ‘Dream Evil’ is one of these three.
‘Dream Evil’ was his fourth solo album in the eighties, following the more rock than metal oriented ‘Sacred Heart’ and stylewise went back to the first two.

We have two speed metal tunes. Full pace and rocking like madmen, ‘Night People’ and ‘Overlove’ from which the first is the better and the second is based around an incredibly good rocking riff. Of course, like on previous albums, the title track is a doom metal song with strong catchy chorus. Now the big ballad here ‘All the Fools Sailed Away’ is pretty damn good. Sensitive, dynamic, great catchy chorus. One of the finest Dio ballads ever written.

‘Sunset Superman’ is one of my most favorite Dio songs. The chorus might be simple but it is based about a powerful riff and the true strength of the song comes from the verses which combine superior riffing with one of Dio's strongest vocal lines. ‘Faces In The Window’ is an upbeat metal tune. Great pace, drive and majestic chorus. This is exactly what made eighties heavy metal so great!

As we all know, the more rock than metal oriented material from Dio CAN also be good. On the ‘Sacred Heart’ album the songs ‘King Of Rock And Roll’ and especially ‘Hungry For Heaven’ proved that Dio can sound more commercial yet still be catchy as hell. Those were amazing songs! The more maintstream rock on this album comes in the form of ‘I Could Have Been a Dreamer’, and ‘When a Woman Cries’. Unfortunately ‘When a Woman Cries’ is a mediocre song and rather bad way to end an otherwise pretty perfect album.

Last song I must mention is ‘Naked In The Rain’ which balances between rock and doom metal. All in all not one of the best songs one the album but once again a very, very strong chorus with which it earns its place on the album.

Productional values are great, solid and really breath that ‘late-eighties’ atmosphere with heavy drums, wide reverb laden guitars and dense yet supporting keys. The artwork is more than superb and maybe even my favorite Dio album cover.

Worst moment: ‘When a Woman Cries’
Best moments: The rest of the songs, the overall performance by ALL members, production & artwork.

Sticking To The Script - 97%

YADF, May 24th, 2012

After three (and a half) albums of "medieval" themes and metal anthems what does Dio do next? He stays true to his formula. Even his "cuddly" mascot "Murray" is back on the album cover (in the window). Despite the departure of guitarist Vivian Campbell, who left and later joined Whitesnake and Def Leppard, Dio creates an album that nearly matches the legendary "Holy Diver" & "The Last In Line". Campbell's replacement, Craig Goldy, filled the shoes with no problem.

Dio's fanbase had definitely shrunk by 1987 and with the release of "Dream Evil". Partly due to the mediocre live EP "Intermission" and MTV's all-embracing love for fluffy hair alleged "hard rock" bands like Bon Jovi & Poison. Still, the LP entered the U.S. Billboard Top 200 albums at a respectable #43 (his highest LP chart placement in the US was #23 with "The Last In Line") and was another Top Ten in the U.K. Unfortunately, the album exited the charts faster than the previous albums (but eventually received Gold record status years later).

Though similar in it's more polished, slightly commercial leanings the album is a better overall work than "Sacred Heart". The reason? Better songs. No real duds. Dio had another creative spurt teamed with Goldy that produced melodic tunes like the title cut, "I Could Have Been A Dreamer" (his last track to chart in America- #33 Mainstream Rock), "Sunset Superman" and "Night People". It also contains the epic ballad "All The Fools Sailed Away", which certainly ranks in the Top 20 best Dio cuts. Many have noticed the guitar riff resembles the classic Rainbow track "Man On The Silver Mountain". Perhaps.

During interviews for "Dream Evil" Dio admitted that "Sacred Heart" was an "unhappy album to make" because of friction with Campbell. He knew there was a couple tracks on "Sacred Heart" that he referred to as "album helper" songs, his euphemism for what we call "filler". He went on to say "Dream Evil" was a conscious attempt to "return to form". Irregardless of Ronnie's humility "Sacred Heart" was still one of the best albums released in that year. "Dream Evil" is just better. One can only wonder if had this been the follow up to "The Last In Line" would it have gone platinum and kept him on the A list a little longer? Whatever the case it was the beginning of his commercial decline with each subsequent Reprise LP selling less than the previous one. So less and less promotional effort was received from the label. It had nothing to do with quality though. MTV (temporarily) ruined metal.

Do You Like the Dark? - 86%

Twisted_Psychology, June 8th, 2009

Dio’s fourth album has proven to be an interesting turning point in terms of the band’s history and sound. It was the first album to feature Rough Cutt guitarist Craig Goldy, the last to ever feature keyboardist Claude Schnell, the last to feature drummer Vinny Appice until 1994’s "Strange Highways," and the last to feature bassist Jimmy Bain until 2000’s "Magica."

Musically, the album seems to take the keyboard oriented sound of 1985’s "Sacred Heart" to a whole new level. While that album seemed to use the keyboards to create more commercial and, dare I say, fluffy textures, this effort uses to create a dark and foreboding atmosphere. These techniques are especially effective on tracks such as the epic "All the Fools Sailed Away" and "Naked in the Rain." Of course, the commercial tendencies of the last album are still retained in the form of "I Could Have Been a Dreamer," though the song itself is much darker than "Hungry for Heaven" or "Mystery."

Aside from the keyboards, everything else is performed in the classic standard that we’ve all come to love. The rhythm section is always solid and distinct, the riffs and solos are strong and memorable, and Dio himself continues to sing in top form. The songs themselves consist of speed metal tracks ("Night People," "Sunset Superman"), dramatic mid-tempo tunes ("Naked in the Rain," "When a Woman Cries"), and even a few bluesier numbers (The title track, "Overlove"). In fact, it makes me think of what Black Sabbath was doing at the time with vocalist Tony Martin...

While Dio’s lyrics have always been about sympathizing with the underdog and overcoming adversity, his specific themes seemed to have changed with this effort. While previous albums (Particularly "SH") dealt with themes related to fantasy and the supernatural, this tune seems to focus on more realistic ideas. Of course, there are still hints of cheese in the mire and it’s still quite the challenge to determine the meaning of tracks such as "Sunset Superman..."

Like previous efforts, this album’s main flaw seems to be related to its dated sound. The songwriting itself is done in good taste but the keyboard layering and kooky sound effects may make this an intolerable listen for closed minded metal fans. Another thing I’ve noticed is that a few songs seem to borrow from Dio’s older material. The title track’s bluesy main riff is rather similar to that of Rainbow’s "Man on the Silver Mountain" and the structure of Overlove reminds me of "Kill the King" with its energetic guitar playing and soaring vocal lines. Fortunately, it’s not that big of an issue as he’s ripping off his own bands...

Albums such as "Lock up the Wolves" would expand on what this album only hints at, but it stands alongside "Holy Diver," "LUTW," and "Magica" as one of the strongest Dio albums to date.

Pros:
1) An excellent band performance, with Goldy in particular standing out.
2) Memorable songs and catchy hooks.
3) An interestingly dark atmosphere

Cons:
1) Occasionally dated keyboards/sound effects
2) A few unoriginal moments
3) An over-reliance on one-liner choruses.

My Current Favorites:
"Night People," "Dream Evil," "All the Fools Sailed Away," "Naked in the Rain," and "Overlove"

Pretty boring, indeed... - 55%

Nhorf, October 26th, 2008

One more Dio album suffering from the same problem all his other ones suffer from: the lack of variety. All the songs are too damn similar, following simple and overused structures (verse, chorus, verse, chorus, solo, chorus). On the other hand, Dio's vocals here are exceptional, very strong and powerful. He really adds something to the tunes, with his fantastic voice.

Anyways, individually, there are not many stand-outs present here. I guess “All the Fools Sailed Away” is the best song, being just a little bit more elaborated than the other songs. A decent ballad, at the end of the day. “Night People” is a good opener, great main riff. In fact, there are some worth listening riffs on the album, the title track has plenty of them now that I think of it. When the fifth track, “Naked in the Rain” kicks in, you'll probably want to stop listening to Dream Evil though, since this tune is more of the same. The same old chorus, the recycled riffs, etc, etc... The next four songs are very weak and basically... more of the same. Really, this album is just a mixture of songs that sound all the same. Please, we want variety. Production-wise, this album is almost flawless, great mixing with the keyboard playing adding a nice atmosphere to the whole record. The drums also sound great, despite the drum performance being a bit on the average side.

So, a pretty bad album, all in all. Still, there are some highlights and average songs, but I won't recommend this to anyone. Meh, if you're a big fan of Dio's work, I guess you'll enjoy this album, otherwise forget it. Imagine Holy Diver or Last in Line with weaker songs and you get a nice mental picture of what this piece is.

Best Moments of the CD:
-the beginning of the album, perhaps.

PS. the artwork rules!

Better than the band named after it! - 89%

Empyreal, July 5th, 2008

Dio, being the legend that he is in the Rock and Metal scenes, needs no introduction, and this, his fourth solo album, shouldn't need one, either. This was the first album without guitar virtuoso Vivian Campbell backing our favorite metal dwarf up, and here was ushered in Craig Goldie, who is no slouch on the strings himself. Fans of the previous Dio albums (and even his work with Rainbow and Black Sabbath) won't be disappointed by this one, as it is more of the same rockish, melodic Heavy Metal that the metal world had come to expect from Ronnie James Dio. His raspy wailing is in fine shape here, and he's backed up by acrobatic guitarwork and perky, upbeat drumming that makes this a very "alive" album. It does not offer anything really new to the standard Dio sound base, but that isn't what Dio was about in the 80s - he was just about making good, solid Heavy Metal to headbang to.

The material here is still very Hard Rockish, with a distinct synth presence, some vocal layering and a nice, laid back sort of groove, but that doesn't change the fact that the riffs here just rule. "Night People," the creepy, atmospheric title track, the anthemic "Sunset Superman," album highlight "All the Fools Sailed Away," with its epic overtones and buildup, the groovy "Overlove," which packs the best guitar solo here, and the excellent, catchy "When a Woman Cries," which ends the album with a classy Hard Rock organ and a great riff. There's no excuse for not liking this one if you're a fan of Heavy Metal in the slightest. Mandatory.

Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com

Yep, This is Pretty Lame, The Cover Fooled Me! - 65%

PowerProg_Adam, September 7th, 2003

Here we have one of the founding fathers of metal, Dio, however this is an album without Vivian Campbell and you can easily tell, the solos are really nothing spectacular. It is a rather disappointing follow up to Sacred Heart and isn't even in the same league as Holy Diver. Most can tell that this is where Ronnie really began to run short on ideas. I'm not saying this album is totally worthless(the album cover is extremely eerie, but says nothing for the music), but about 80 percent of the album is repeated simplistic choruses, the most obvious major examples being Faces in the Window, When a Woman Cries, and Overlove.

Most Dio albums tend to die out towards the end, but Dream Evil never really gets started. There are pretty much only about 3 songs here that I can listen to, those being Night People, Dream Evil, and All the Fools Sailed Away. The latter being by far the best song on the album with a very grandeur chorus and a really good solo and also decent riffs. Besides Angry Machines, I would view this as Dio's lowest moment.