Released: 2010, Frontiers Records
Incredibly timely, and somehow kinda morbid, this Dio tribute album from vocalist extraordinaire Jorn Lande. I should say however, that reading the promo material for the album, it seems like an unfunny coincidence that the album is coming out so quickly after Dio’s passing – it appears that the album was in the works well before the sad news came out. Either way, Jorn Lande has seen fit to pay respects to Ronnie James Dio with an album of cover songs from the master himself.
Leading off the album is a Jorn’s tribute song to RJD, “Song for Ronnie James”. It certainly strikes the right mood and sound that it could almost BE a Dio song...except for the fact that it’s about three minutes too long and kinda trite. It’s certainly heartfelt and I appreciate where Lande is coming from, but the song just doesn’t work well. From there, Jorn moves into the cover songs. He claims that his aim was to shed light on some lesser known Dio songs, and both of these are great selections for the task. Jorn’s voice is perfectly suited to covering Dio’s regal roar and the band strikes the perfect tone and captures the essence of the songs. Starting with a couple of songs from HOLY DIVER – “Invisible” and “Shame on the Night”, things get off to a great start. “Shame on the Night” in particular is excellent. As the album goes on, Jorn covers songs from SACRED HEART, DREAM EVIL, MAGICA, and KILLING THE DRAGON, as well as some Black Sabbath and Rainbow songs. All the songs are covered reverently and flawlessly. Special mention goes to the absolutely ripping cover of “Sacred Heart” – a highlight for sure. Truly, if someone had to make a covers album of Dio songs, Jorn was the right choice.
However, for an album that was supposed to rediscover some lost Dio songs, this disc ultimately fails. I mean, I know that HOLY DIVER is considered the holy grail of Dio albums, but did we really need five songs from it? Given that THE LAST IN LINE, LOCK UP THE WOLVES, STRANGE HIGHWAYS, ANGRY MACHINES, and MASTER OF THE MOON were completely ignored, the track list is a bit of a letdown. Finally, there is just no spark to the performances. Yes, Dio often sang about wizards etc., but there was always a sense of magic in his music. There covers just sound plain and workman-like.
Whatever your feelings on cover albums, and a Dio one at this point in time in particular, this is an average one at best. It’s worth a listen for the curious, but if you’re going to listen to Dio songs, just listen to the Man himself.