Ronnie James Dio - This is Your Life
On May 16, 2010, Ronnie James Dio lost his battle with stomach cancer. The metal world was truly rocked, as his loss was a powerful and shattering one. He had one of the most powerful voices in the world of rock and heavy metal, and despite his small stature, his presence and subsequent absence is and was gargantuan. And so, with the blessing and assistance of former Dio members and Dio's widow, ' Wendy Gaxiola, this tribute album was born. Some of the songs had been recorded before Dio's passing, but these coupled with the addition of the newer songs makes for a fine tribute album, with proceeds going to the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund.
The majority of the album features covers by currently active bands, but a large chunk of them are performed by former members of Dio as well as an amalgam of classic bands and iconic lead singers. The first track, Anthrax's version of 'Neon Knight,' is executed well and sung strongly by Joey Belladonna. Tenacious D's loving and fantastic rendition of 'The Last in Line' is cool and makes no attempt to poke fun in any way at the legendary singer, as the duo are huge fans and were lucky enough to work with Dio before his passing. The appropriately named Adrenaline Mob covers 'Mob Rules,' a fast and loud rendition that stills retains the important message of the song. A collaboration of Slipknot, Stone Sour, and Steel Panther members cover 'Rainbow in the Dark,' with Corey Taylor on vocal duty. The song is done well, but Taylor's voice is made for no metal and doesn't quite reflect the harmonizing quality of the original. My favorite cover on the album is up next, Halestorm's cover of 'Straight Through the Heart.' Lzzy Hale has a stellar voice and her band does a bang up job on the tunes, making for a catchy and respectable track. Motorhead, with the assistance of Saxon's Biff Byford on the vocals covers 'Starstruck,' a cool song with classic bad-ass Motorhead riffs and the legendary Lemmy providing backup vocals.
The slow, ballad – like 'The Temple of The King' is the next track, performed by the legendary Scorpions. The song is perfect for them and Klaus Meine does a fine vocal job, doing justice to Dio's vocal abilities. On 'Egypt (The Chains Are On),' Doro Pesch's melodic voice echoes out over the guitars, making for a haunting yet beautiful cover of a classic Dio track. The cover of 'Holy Diver,; performed heavily by Killswitch Engage, features former lead singer Howard Jones' strong melodic voice belting out the classic lines of one of the most well known Dio songs, bringing new life into a classic for the age of nu-metallers. The slow and sad 'Catch the Rainbow' features former members of Dio, AC/DC, and Black Sabbath, with Glenn Hughes taking vocal lead to give us a beautiful and weepy song that fittingly pays tribute to the loss of a legend. With members from Lynch Mob, Dio, and Whitesnake, the next track, 'I,' is a cool cover with wonderful solos and a tight vocal performance from Oni Logan. The strongest and longest track, 'Man on the Silver Mountain,' features the legendary Rob Halford on vocals with support from former Dio and Heaven & Hell members. Halford is probably the only singer in the world of rock and metal that could come even close to touching Dio's powerful voice, and the track is definitely one of the best. The next track is a medley for Dio called 'Ronnie Rising,' featuring Metallica, A Light in the Black, Tarot Woman, Stargazer, and Kill the King. This track is an epic instrumental showcase of all the talent and prowess possessed by the many legends of rock that have been inspired by Dio. The album closes with Dio's own 'This is Your Life,' a reminder that although we lost a legend, we can still move on and do great things to honor his memory.
Tribute albums are a great way to honor the contributions and memories left behind by the late great musicians of any genre, but as a rock and metal fan, I find this album to be wonderful and fitting and I am glad that so many people cared so much about Dio and his life, as he will forever have a cemented place in the history of rock and roll. Contributions to Ronnie James Dio's Stand Up and Shout Cancer fund can be made here: diocancerfund.org.