Released: 1999, Dwell Records
On May 16th of this year, (2014) it will be the 4th anniversary of the death of Ronnie James Dio. In April Rhino records released a tribute album called THIS IS YOUR LIFE. The amount if media hype about this album was unbelievable and frankly a bit puzzling. This was just sixth (or seventh depending how you count) Dio tribute on the market. Why was everyone so excited about this one? How does it compare to the five previous ones? Of course being a true Dio fan I own all of them so I decided to pull them from the vaults and review them. They are, in chronological order of release…
HOLY DIO-A TRIBUTE TO THE VOICE OF METAL:RONNIE JAMES DIO (Century Media, 1999)
AWAKEN THE DEMON-TRIBUTE TO DIO (Dwell, 1999)
DIO (Jorn) (Frontiers 2010)
MAGIC-A TRIBUTE TO RONNIE JAMES DIO (Magic Circle Music, 2010)
TO HEAVEN THROUGH HELL-A TRIBUTE TO RONNIE JAMES DIO (Backstage, 2011)
RONNIE JAMES DIO-THIS IS YOUR LIFE (Rhino, 2014)
The Jorn album DIO was already reviewed by our very own Waspman back in July of 2010 so feel free to check out this review as well as part of this feature/tribute. Please feel free to enjoy al the reviews in this feature.
AWAKEN THE DEMON has the distinction of being the second Dio tribute album. Back in 1999 Dwell Records started churning out tribute albums at an amazing rate and this was one of the first in their tribute series. The cover art features a stylized interpretation of Murray, Dio’s mascot from the 80’s. You may recall that many of the Dwell tribute albums had some sort of metal monster on the front, many of them done by their in-house artist, Dimitri Patelis. Many of the Dwell tributes look very cool actually if you line them all up and look at them at the same time. The Maiden, Priest, Dio etc all have that same look and design.
The booklet doesn’t have much info, no lyrics or photos, but it does include contact info for the (at the time) young bands covering the Dio songs. The 13-track album runs about an hour. The focus of this tribute is 1980-1985. It covers the first pair of Dio solo albums, HOLY DIVER and THE LAST IN LINE. There are no less than six of the nine tracks from HOLY DIVER covered and four from THE LAST IN LINE. There is one cut from SACRED HEART and a couple of Black Sabbath tracks, ‘Neon Nights’ and ‘Heaven And Hell’. Although those picks might seem predictable in 2014, back then these were some of the first covers of Dio from that era.
Reviewing AWAKEN THE DEMON has the enormous advantage of hindsight. Back in 1999 many of the bands on the tribute like Steel Prophet, Imagika and Seven Witches were new, young and untested bands who, as we now know, went on to have long and successful careers. There are some real gems on here such as Pyscho Scream, featuring a young Tim Aymar (Pharaoh, Control Denied) doing ‘The Last In Line’. One of the more interesting versions is Aurora Borealis doing a thrashed-up Death-like version of ‘We Rock’ with a brutal/gruff vocal that does no justice to the man they are paying tribute to. Still, it is a good version as I’ve always enjoyed uber-heavy Death or Black Metal versions of classic Metal songs from the 80’s. However, most of the tribute has third-tier US Power Metal bands doing the songs and the tracks selection is quite limited to a very short period of time in Dio’s 40+ year career.
In the final analysis, AWAKEN THE DEMON is a nice snap-shot in time, with a slight nod to my personal preferences and some acknowledgement that it was one of the first, however, of the six Dio tributes in this feature, this one is very average.
1. Division-Rainbow In The Dark
2. Aurora Borealis-We Rock
3. Steel Prophet- Neon Knights
4. Enertia- Invisible
5. Ion Vein-Don't Talk To Strangers
6. Opposite Earth-Caught In The Middle
7. Black Earth-King Of Rock And Roll
8. Imagika- Evil Eyes
9. Tyrant-Holy Diver
10. Division-Heaven And Hell
11. Psycho Scream-The Last In Line
12. Dofka- Egypt
13. Seven Witches-Shame On The Night