Big Al

Although no one could truly replace Ozzy, Black Sabbath attempted to do just that with Ronnie James Dio in the early ?80s. And it was the wrong idea. Like trying to replace David Lee Roth in Van Halen, it just ain?t the same without that ?voice?? the one that defines the band?s sound, whose personality overshadows the rest of the musicians. Whenever you try to tame a band by getting a singer that follows the rules, you get boring music that indeed does follow the rules. But I digress.

Dio solo is another story. Ronnie James? operatic, pure singing style lends well to the dramatic metal he puts out. Dio?s charm as metal?s reigning diva works better when he gets his way, Dio-style. Classics like ?Rainbow in the Dark,? ?Last in Line,? and of course hohhhhh-lee dye-vah... er... ?Holy Diver? stand the test of time, and his concept album from four years back, Magica, was downright masterful. In 2002, he released Killing The Dragon, a nice addition to his portfolio, but not as stand-out as Magica (although Jack Black makes an awesome cameo on the video for ?Push?).

This brings us to the present and the just?released Master of the Moon. The second, and title, track is anthemic, and hearkens back to his earlier work, a la ?Man on the Silver Mountain?-era Dio. The pomp of ?The Man Who Would Be King,? with its religious imagery and soul-searching, represents one of the thematic undercurrents here. At times defiant and standing tall (?I Am?), and others isolated (?The Eyes,? ?In Dreams?), the juxtaposition of moods is a lyrical tool well employed by RJD. Although not sequenced together, these songs are the strongest in the album. As a whole, Master of the Moon is that nod to previous successes that die-hard fans constantly clamor for. The classic guitar work of Craig Goldy is here, as is the bass rumblings of Jeff Pilson (Dokken, among others). If you?re a newbie to all of this, check MOTM out for a modern update of the classic Dio sound, but most cetainly check out the back catalog. Oh, and if you love Dio like we love Dio, check out www.dioforamerica.com.

Al Cohen
Senior Pillbox Staff