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Dio - Killing The Dragon

Best Classic Metal Album

The following was originally published in our Review section. 

Review by antiGUY
Some people get off on slagging Dio, some jokers who call themselves critics continue to blast Ronnie James for sticking to his guns. Most of whom at the same time praise people like Eminem and Fred Durst. I take the opposite approach; I actually respect Dio far more than I do a lot of metal artists who came out of the late 70’s and 80’s. When you bought a Dio album, you always knew what you were gonna get; a kick ass metal album stepped in mythological images, satanic overtones and Dio’s unmistakable vocals, and yes--wizards, dragons and all-- it was Dio. He never really strayed far from that formula, even when he made the jump from Rainbow to Black Sabbath to his own band Dio, you could always count on him to stay pretty consistent. In the late 80’s that wasn’t always the case with metal performers, Judas Priest took the dive to synthesizers, even Ozzy seemed to tap into a bit of trend following (just go back and look at the photos for “The Ultimate Sin” and listen to the album, you’ll hear what I am talking about.) While Dio isn’t afraid of experimenting, he never ventures too far out of his proven sound that people could accuse him of selling out or cashing in on a trend. 

As a young metalhead, “Holy Diver” and “The Last in Line” were in heavy rotation on my turn table along with Dio’s Sabbath albums “Heaven and Hell” and “Mob Rules” so I basically grew up with him and I, like many, was a bit disappointed with his third studio album, “Sacred Heart”, it seemed to lack the fire that drove his previous music but none the less, he kept putting out albums and I kept buying them, even after he replaced Vivian Campbell with Greg Goldy (a mistake in my opinion). While his later albums never sold as well as his earlier work, Dio has maintained a steady consistent quality to his work after “Sacred Heart”. In fact, many expected his 2000 concept album “Magica” to be a big hit, but alas it was put out by s***fire Records, a label that couldn’t sell a CD even if it was from a top selling current band like Linkin Park if they were giving them away for a dollar each. 

If “Magica” was the start of the return to true Dio greatness than “Killing The Dragon” will kick that into high gear. In many ways, this album should have been the follow up to “The Last In Line” as Dio focuses his writing more clearly on being, well, Dio and had a bit more freedom this time around since the album wasn’t restrained around a set concept like "Magica", yet it still manages to tell a story. The title track kicks the CD off in perfect form, a song that sounds like it would have been right at home on “Heaven and Hell” with it’s machine gun like rhythmic guitar chucks and Dio’s mesmerizing vocals. The second track, ”Along Came A Spider” has a tiny bit of the feel of “Invisible” in the vocal treatment, even though overall, it really sounds nothing like the classic Dio song. But it appears to come from the same spiritual place. Other standout tracks include “Better In The Dark”, which again has the classic Dio fronting Black Sabbath feel to it. “Throw Away Children” is about as close to a ballad you’ll hear from Dio and it packs a mean punch! 

Guitarist Doug Aldrich is a welcome addition to the band; his style seems to fall between the mountains Iommi and Campbell, not a bad place to be! 

So the bottom line is Dio is back, even though he never really went away. If you like your metal with evil overtones, steeped in the mystical tradition with visions of far away times when dragons and wizards ruled the world, then you got one more great album to add to your collection. I know a lot of our readers are too young to know who Dio is, so if you want something with a bit more musical substance than “I did it all for the Nookie”, then you might be pleasantly surprised with what you find here. It sure beats the hell out of the slop that the corporations, a.k.a. major record labels, are spewing forth these days!

This album is just one more reason why Dio is a legend! 

CD Info 

Dio - Killing The Dragon
Label: s***fire
Killing The Dragon 
Along Came A Spider 
Better In The Dark 
Rock And Roll 
Throw Away Children 
Before The Fall 
Cold Feet
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