As we sadly won’t be getting any further music from Ronnie James Dio (R.I.P.; sadly missed!), what is the next best thing? Well how about a reunion of the band that played on the classic early Dio albums – Vivian Campbell, Jimmy Bain, and Vinny Appice? Throw in a vocalist in Andrew Freeman that, while thankfully NOT a RJD clone, has a very powerful voice of his own, and you’ve got a band that metal fans can be excited about. The fact that they’re playing music in the definitive style of Dio is almost TOO good.
Yes, HEAVY CROWN could almost pass for a “lost” Dio album. The songs lean towards that slow to mid-paced Dio crunch, with a couple of speedy rockers added in to spice up the flow. In fact, with the opening to cuts, “The Devil in Me” and “Martyr”, you’ve got perfect examples of the two sides of the Dio sound. As the album plays, it’s an absolute joy to hear the classic rhythm section of Bain & Appice playing together again; it’s clear that they’ve lost none of their abilities of the years. Similarly, hearing Vivian Campbell playing pure heavy metal again is awesome. Despite spending 25 years with Def Leppard, he’s still got fire for heavy music. As I said above, Freeman is just icing on the cake. I’d never heard him sing before, but his soulful pipes fit in perfectly with the music.
Musically, HEAVY CROWN is a winner as well. It covers the metal bases established by the Dio band and, for the most part, knocks it out of the park. A couple of the slower songs don’t quite stick, but for the most part fans of traditional heavy metal will enjoy this. So despite what I’m about to discuss in the next paragraph, rest assured that this album stands tall as a great heavy metal record all on its own; it doesn’t need nostalgia to recommend it.
Having said that, what should be a triumphant tribute to a metal legend has instead turned into another tragedy as Jimmy Bain sadly passed away earlier this year (Jan. 23rd, 2016). While any death is saddening, it’s even more so when it’s a legend – and Jimmy Bain is definitely a legend! He was also my personal favorite bass player of all time, so his passing really hit home for me. Bain’s passing has now put the future of Last In Line up the air; but now matter what happens, we should all be happy that we got one last kick ass album featuring his playing. Thanks for everything Jimmy, hopefully you and Ronnie are already making music together in the afterlife!
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