Dio - Master of The Moon

SPV Records (Germany)
Produced by Ronnie James Dio

Having toured before the release of this album Dio only played one new song, The Eyes, live. And it was excellent. So I was very much looking forward to this CD. A week late, though it is. So, with an almost "classic" Dio line-up of long-time drummer and keyboard player Simon Wright and Scott Warren, and the return of ex-guitarist Craig Goldy and Ex-bassist Jeff Pilson, the legendary Ronnie James Dio was intending to create a follow-up to 2000s concept piece Magica.

Initially, this record was supposed to serve as Magica II & III. I am not completely convinced this is the reality. Although nothing's been said in the build-up to release to say that it isn't, nor has any more been said to say that it is. But the subject matter doesn't really lend itself to the Magica story.

Kicking off with One More For The Road this is classic Dio fare. A cool riff, a very typical Craig Goldy solo. By which I don't mean it's dull and sounds like all his others, it's just very obvious if you've listened to past Dio albums with Craig on that it is him playing it and not one of Ronnie's many other guitar players. A "trademark" solo, if you will. After that we get the title track. And I must say, it's poor. Totally disjointed, no flow at all. Were I not a long time Dio fan, I'd really lay into it. Of course, Ronnie's vocals are flawless, as they always are. But it's just a bad song.

The End of The World is so classic-sounding it could almost have appeared on Dio's 1987 album Dream Evil. The riff has the same tone and sound as the riffs on that album (which did feature Craig on guitars, actually). Fans of the 80s Dio sound will lap it up. Then Shivers is superb. A bit more Magica in sound than anything else so far, a chugging riff drives the song, with a great little solo and a fast, rocking pace. And right before the final line of the chorus each time, there's this superb riff, which is merely a slightly faster version of the main riff, with the following mini-verse being sung at that pace. Great stuff!

The Man Who Would Be King starts off like many Dio songs have before, with a piano intro and softly-softly vocals (think The Last In Line or Don't Talk To Strangers) before a pause then a heavier riff. But it never really gets off the ground. It's like the aforementioned The Last In Line, but progressing more at the pace of something like As Long As It's Not About Love, but without the emotion.

The Eyes doesn't quite have the impact on CD that it did live. The main riff is very bass driven and chugging and this comes out very, very heavy live. But less so on record. It's still a great song, much like Rock And Roll from Killing The Dragon, and some interesting echoed keyboard effects and a great riff later on before the solo add a lot to the song. Unfortunately the next two, Living The Lie and I Am, simply leave me cold. There's nothing in either of them particularly exciting. They are both very plodding, with pretty poor choruses. The soloing is good in both, especially in I Am, but that's not quite enough.

Death By Love picks up the pace a bit, getting more into mid-temp rock territory. Very typical Dio of late, a not very interesting riff and another pretty poor chorus let this one down. In Dreams follows with the same plodding bassline and unimaginative riff. Another dodgy chorus too. I can't actually find anywhere in the liner notes details of who wrote the songs, but I bet Goldy and Pilson had a hand in it. Which would explain the plodding pace.

Basically, Dio fans will want this. It's every bit as good as albums like Sacred Heart, Dream Evil and Lock Up The Wolves, but, for my money, not quite up to the standard of Dio's other recent offerings Magica and the immense Killing the Dragon, which both bare many more return listens. New people, get Killing The Dragon, the seminal Holy Diver and Magica first. Then maybe this.

“ plodding ”

Tracklist: One More For The Road / Master of The Moon / End of The World / Shivers / The Man Who Would Be King / The Eyes / Living The Lie / I Am / Death By Love / In Dreams

Written by Andy Lye
More: 2004, Albums, Heavy Metal,

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