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Gets Better On Repeat - 89%

YADF, May 12th, 2012

Like many, I had grown accustomed to the Dio of "Holy Diver", "Last In Line", "Sacred Heart", & "Dream Evil", so naturally I was expecting more of the same.

Upon first listen of "Wolves" I was so disappointed I was going to trade it in for credit at my local record shop. It sported more slower, bluesy tempos. Sure, these days I'm into blues, but back then I wanted my metal music fast and powerful. The occasional slow or mid-tempo number was okay if, and ONLY if, the singer was something special. There aren't any much more special than Dio. Other than Freddie Mercury I can't think of any rock singer that matches him. It's the "sound" of his voice, not just his range and powerful rasp. It must feel great being able to scream and stay on key.

I listened a second time and songs like "Wild One", "Hey Angel", & "Walk On Water" got to me, so I knew I had to keep at least those, but I didn't have a cd burner or computer at the time so I would only be able to save those songs on cassette. Might as well be a bloody 8-track tape (cassettes were about to suffer near total death thanks to the compact disc). So because those three songs were keepers, I listened again several times as it was the only cd in my car at the time and I grew to love this album from start to finish. Dio's voice is amazing and even the slow, bluesier songs grew on me.

The title cut is epic. The sound is huge and the mix is perfect. Just like they whined over "Dream Evil", some have complained that Vivian Campbell's presence was missed, but I didn't notice. I play closer attention to singers than guitarists anyway. 19 year old Rowan Robertson shreds like an old pro here. There's other personnel changes. Gone were keyboardists Claude Schnell and Jimmy Bain (replaced by Jens Johanson), as well as drummer Vinny Appice (replaced by former AC/DC drummer Simon Wright, but he retains writing credit on "Born On The Sun").

Reading other reviews, I've noticed this album has aged quite well.