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A Heralded Debacle - 60%

ballcrushingmetal, April 22nd, 2017

Dio's third album is far from the potential that the band showed in previous releases, especially, since they turned the initial signs of creative burnout present in "The Last in Line into a blatant lack of ideas. Even worse, the band had the very brilliant idea of aligning their compositions with some of the trends that invaded the glam scene during the '80s (e.g., uninspired and sentimental synth drunk songs, cheesiness everywhere, and all that crap that fit the standards that MTV tried to impose). All these, in an aim of selling as many copies as a glam band and reaching the audiences that were obsessed with the glam music. Unfortunately, the results were too different from their expectations.

Something was wrong with the band. Campbell and Appice did not sound like themselves, and it seems that they had their hands tied and their brains turned off by the discographic company. What results more unbelievable is to find out that the lyrics of "Just Another Day" describe the band's songwriting work on this album: songs that were not done for pleasure and did not have any magic (perhaps two songs marked an exception). Numbers like "Another Lie" and "Rock 'n' Roll Children" are average Dio numbers with some good moments here and there, but they do not end up providing the riffs and drumming that much of the fanatics of the band were used to enjoy. As mentioned, they are just average.

On the other hand, the album highlights are two. The opening track is pretty much a combination of "I Speed at Night" and "Breathless" from the previous release and is another number that addresses the obsessions that Dio had with rock 'n' roll. But nothing here would be as good as the title song. This epic mid-paced doomish number is a riff-fest. It is precisely the way in which the band should have written the songs. Think about a mid-paced Black Sabbath number from Dio-era and make it more melodic, and what you obtain is this song.

Aside from these songs, in the rest of the album, there is nothing above the average nor even as outstanding as the stuff in earlier efforts, and the songs are rather silly, even though much of the Dio's trademark metaphoric songwriting techniques are present here. They could be comparable to something like Mötley Crüe having a bad day. The album is remembered as the beginning of a debacle from which they were not able to entirely recover. Nonetheless, the next releases would show some improvements (starting with the next release), and at the end, this is not as bad as "Angry Machines", but definitely a step behind.

Better When Not Compared To His First 2 LPs - 86%

YADF, May 24th, 2012

Dio was at the peak of his popularity with the release of "Sacred Heart". Both of his first two LPs had gone platinum in the U.S. (1,000,000 + in sales) and were successful across the globe. Some sort of backlash was inevitable. Many were quick to pounce on the album for being inferior to "Holy Diver" & "The Last In Line". This is true. Whereas, those other albums had no filler "Sacred Heart" had it's share of mediocrity ("Shoot Shoot", "Fallen Angels", etc..). Additionally, the production is slicker and it's obvious the band was gunning for a hit. Most likely it was record company pressure. The Dio band's first two LPs were big sellers- going Gold within a year and eventually certified platinum as already mentioned- so likely record execs though if they could get a mainstream radio hit they could better the numbers. At the time it was in the insipid, sappy power ballad. Well, Dio wasn't going there thank goodness. I wonder if they tried to get him to write one?

The pop metal "Hungry For Heaven" had appeared on a movie soundtrack ("Vision Quest") and achieved heavy airplay on Rock radio. If ever there was a Dio song (along with "Rainbow In The Dark") that should've made the Billboard Pop chart it was this but no dice. It's just appalling that utter crap like Twisted Sister could get a pop hit but Dio couldn't. Actually, it's to Dio's credit- he was just too metal and history now looks back with disdain on TS and bands like Quiet Riot while the Dio albums still get respect.

That's the U.S. In The U.K., Dio was charting but it was a different single, "Rock And Roll Children", that was the hit. It managed a #26 placing on the pop chart. So, yeah, "Sacred Heart" and the following album "Dream Evil" were the closest Dio ever came to the cliche' "selling out". So perhaps there was more keyboard and more melody but that is not selling out. Just think of how nauseating Poison was/is and you'll release that Dio never strayed that far from his signature sound. He always had a sense of melody, not just songs with memorable guitar riffs (like the overly-esteemed "Iron Man" from Ozzy/Sabbath days)

Initially, this slightly more polished strategy worked as this became Dio's biggest selling album worldwide. But, for some reason Dio's fanbase began to dwindle shortly after it exited the charts. It wasn't grunge, which killed metal's popularity years later. It wasn't that Dio's songwriting skills wen't bankrupt ("Dream Evil" was a step up from this album). It's true the EP, "Intermission", wasn't well received but that's not it. What was it then? MTV's parade of photogenic Hair Band "Rock" bands plain and simple. Crappy bands like Poison, Winger, Warrant, Europe took up all the air space until Nirvana put an end to glam metal the way punk crushed disco.

Not their best, not their worst - 74%

evermetal, October 12th, 2009

It was back in 1982 that one of the greatest vocalists and personalities of heavy metal, R.J.Dio, was practically kicked out of Black Sabbath after being their singer for two excellent albums, Heaven and Hell and Mob Rules. Shortly after he formed his own band and his answer to Sabbath were two, also great albums, Holy Diver and The Last in Line.

Having found a steady line-up, Dio released another album in 1985, called Sacred Heart. All the members of Dio, referring to them as a band and not as a single person, were very good musicians with great skills, so this release was awaited by metal fans with big expectation. And even though it did not come-up to the standards of Holy Diver, they were not let down.

Dio’s style hadn’t changed and Sacred Heart followed the footsteps of The Last in Line. Ronnie James’ abilities as a singer were not questionable and indeed, the short man with the magnificent voice is once again in great form. His unique vocals are a match for only a few other singers. He also wrote all the lyrics himself. The only problem of the album is that, not all compositions are of the same quality.

In here there are some heavy metal diamonds such as the opening track, King of Rock and Roll. A perfect introduction to the album that rocks your ass with a beautiful riff line by Vivian Campbell. Many rock fans know him from Def Lepard but his playing in Dio was superb. There is also the, known to all, metal hymn Rock ‘N’ Roll Children. The melodic keyboard lines add a wonderful feeling to the song. They are accompanied by the excellent drums of Appice and the strong bass performance of Bain.

One step below, are the songs Just Another Day and Another Lie. The first one is a fine piece of genuine hard rock/metal. With a little more than three minutes in duration, it is probably the fastest track of the album. The familiar vocals of Dio and the beautiful guitar solo place it among the top moments of the album. Another Lie is somewhat slower in speed but equally good. It has a nice break somewhere in the middle and an exploding finale. These two tracks complete, what we can say, the better half of the album.

The other half is filled with more mediocre though not bad songs. The self-titled song is the longest one, with six and a half minutes of playing time. A typical Dio melody is what you’ll find in this one. It could be useful if you wanted to make a compilation of Dio’s best songs but nothing more.

All the remaining tracks are there to fill the album. Stuff that you have heard in the releases prior to Sacred Heart. They are not horrible but it seems as if they begin to lose their inspiration as time goes by. Especially the last song, Shoot Shoot could have been left out. You can listen to them if you are doing something else at the same time but not if you want to be excited.

In general, Sacred Heart is a good album that has its great, good and bad moments. I was not disappointed but not thrilled either. I am sure that they didn’t make new fans with this one and on the other hand their old dedicated fans did not lose the faith in this great band’s abilities.

Improvement over The Last in Line - 83%

Metalwontdie, July 1st, 2009

Dio’s Sacred Heart is an improvement over The Last in Line in terms of overall album cohesiveness though it does lack as strong standout tracks. Sacred Heart is played in the same manor as Dio’s first two releases containing the more traditional/classic metal vibe, with the occasional more speed metal oriented songs. The reason why I said Sacred Heart is an improvement over the Last in Line is because it’s based more on the album as a whole then the individual songs. Filler is less prevalent but the standouts suffer because of this they are weaker than on Holy Diver and The Last in Line.

The band’s performance is top notch, especially Vivian Campbell’s (this being Vivians last album with Dio). Filler is present but every Dio album has at least some filler present. Keyboard usage is even more prevalent than on previous outings. The choruses are weaker too, and it seems that Ronnie wanted a much more guitar-oriented feel to Sacred Heart and it worked. Sacred Heart could have used a change of style or some new elements added which would have increased the entertainment value of this album. Finally the production is well done as usual, though it would have been nice to hear one of Dio’s semi ballads on Sacred Heart.

Sacred Heart while nothing special is certainly a solid album with some very memorable parts to it. Almost forgot about the lyrical approach is the usual fantasy oriented trademark Dio lyrics with a usage of metaphors. The best songs are King of Rock and Roll, Sacred Heart, Rock ‘N’ Roll Children, and Just Another Day, Hungry For Heaven is also a standout because it has the best chorus of the album. I recommend this album to fans of Dio and traditional metal only.

-6 Some filler is present
-8 Standouts are weaker than usual for Dio
-3 No new elements are added to the album

Meh...scrap metal... - 69%

Snxke, July 6th, 2004

Dio really slipped and fell on this one. The production is thin compared to the legendary first two records, the songwriting is entirely hit or miss and the overall feeling is one of a cliched band that just happened to claim an amazing frontman. Needless to say, Dio showed his first-ever signs of weakness on the CD. It's not without it's merits, but compared the storied first-half of his career this record is a shocking dissapointment.

There are at least four killer tracks on this CD. "King of Rock and Roll" has some great riffs and melodies, the title track bears an epic feel, and "Just Another Day" stand out well enough...but the rest sounds weak and uninspired. Dio was often the best of the best, here he represents the most predicatable of the most predictable. Where he should have taken the reigns from Ozzy as the "king of metal" he released a record that put metal back at least five years.

Dio is a great musician but his solo career has been riddled with constant missteps and backslides into being in a total state of befuddlement as to what is his best and what is his worst. Often times he becomes so "out of touch" with his gifts that a record like this will appear and shock the world with how lifeless it is. This also marked the first time that sales for the Dio product would decline, as fans also noticed this lack of quality.

Dio will always be "the man"...but one has to screen his many albums carefully before he invests his hard earned dollar. If you're a Dio fanatic...the few excellent songs will be enough to keep you happy. If you're just a casual fan or a lover of 80's metal this might not do it. I'd even say "skip it" and pick up "Holy Diver" and "Last in Line" as those are vastly superior to this piece of partial-junk.