Released: 2004, Steamhammer / SPV / Playground Music
Reviewer: Anders Sandvall
The little man with the big voice is back to follow up on KILLING THE DRAGON with this new album MASTER OF THE MOON. During the interim between KILLING THE DRAGON and the new album, Dio has been doing some massive touring all around the world. On the new album there are some changes in the line-up: original Dio bass player Jimmy Bain has left the band for the second time and so has guitarist Doug Aldrich. The replacements are Rudy Sarzo (Whitesnake, Quiet Riot) on bass and guitarist Craig Goldy, who makes his third return to Dio.
KILLING THE DRAGON (2002) and MAGICA (2000) were both very strong compared to most of the previous albums Dio released. I think he had a hard time matching the high level he achieved on records like HOLY DIVER, THE LAST IN LINE and SACRED HEART that were released at the beginning of Ronnie James Dio’s solo career. Though the albums that followed those first three haven’t sold nearly as well, the fans have always loved Dio and stood by his side no matter what he has released.
RJD produced the album himself this time around. With his longtime history in the music business, RJD knows exactly what he wants. The production on MASTER OF THE MOON is no exception from the well-known Dio formula. The production sounds like only Dio does, except for the slightly darker sound he has created here compared to the last albums. The production centers around RJD’s mighty and powerful voice, around Scott Warren’s keyboard play and Goldy’s guitar play. RJD, like Biff Byford from Saxon, sounds just as strong and powerful as he always has and there are absolutely no signs of any tiredness in his voice.
I have to admit that I haven’t been such a big fan of Goldy’s guitar play before but he seems to have pulled himself together and now sounds pretty good, but you can’t compare him to Aldrich anyhow. Simon Wright hasn’t been one of my favorite drummers either but he also sounds remarkably better here and it feels like only gets better and better every record.
Just as everybody knows Dio plays heavy hard rock, as he’s done since 1983 when HOLY DIVER came out. RJD doesn’t create anything new, but MASTER OF THE MOON still feels fresh and promising. The darker sound was a smart move and feels very good. I’m sure that fans all over the world, especially in Scandinavia, have waited for this album for a long time and they’re not going to be disappointed.
I don’t know which studio MASTER OF THE MOON was recorded in nor who has written the music and lyrics, but I can guess it was RJD and Goldy. The album cover really mirrors what the music’s all about and it’s just genuine Dio cover.
MASTER OF THE MOON contains ten tracks all together and the quality of the material is realyl high. All of the songs are really strong and no song feels like a left over. Some songs that stand out a bit more are the opening track “One For The Road” which is the fastest song on the whole album and is a classic Dio track. RJD is high up in the mix and Wright hammers on with his double bass pedals. Goldy fires off a short and elegant guitar solo in the middle. “Master Of The Moon” borders on being an up-tempo ballad with a darker touch, but it’s still classic hard rock. Dio takes a big part in the soundscape and he shows that he’s still going strong. There are a lot of tempo changes and RJD gets some help in the chorus. “The End Of The World” and “Living The Life” sound like typical Dio songs and could fit in on any older Dio album. RJD plays the biggest part in the mix of the songs and this is straight and pure heavy hard rock and nothing else. “Shivers” has a heavy go performed by Goldy and Wright that goes straight through the first verse. It takes a while before RJD starts to sing and his lead vocals are again at the top of the mix. “The Man Who Would Be King” is a heavy, grinding hard rock track with a dark feel. The song also sounds like an early 80’s Dio track. “The Eyes” also has a darker feel and once again the grinding heavy metal comes in. There are some longer instrumental parts through the song without RJD singing and at the end comes a sing-along part where the crowd will probably take over the vocals on the next tour.
Dio has once again delivered a totally stunning album with impressive musicians and production. RJD is Dio and he’s always going to be one of the most loved hard rock voices in music history. Even after 20 years it’s still Dio who dominates the world.
The tour has already began in Russia and the band have run through Europe on the first leg of the tour, so I think it’s going to take a while before we can expect another studio album from Dio. But after this masterpiece we can wait a while and catch our breath before we dive into the next crushing Dio-adventure.