When Ronnie James Dio was taken from us back in 2010, the world of Rock was in shock even though all of us knew that he suffered from stomach cancer with very slim chances to survive. And the world of Rock has been in mourning ever since – few artist are so missed as Ronnie James Dio. That have also led to lots of different ways to keep his legacy alive. Bands still play his songs live and tribute albums have surfaced and there are also former Dio members trying to bring out music similar sounding to Dio the band. First out was Last In Line where original members Vivian Campbell (Def Leppard, guitar), Jimmy Bain (bass) and Vinny Appice teamed up with singer Andrew Freeman (Lynch Mob) and released an album that left quite a lot to be desired. That band also contain Dio keyboarder Claude Schnell for a short while. With the death of Bain, LIL replaced him with Phil Soussan (Ozzy), a guy that haven’t got any relation to Dio at all.
There were also the Dio Disciples which featured old Dio members Graig Goldy (guitar), Simon Wright (drums) and Scott Warren (keyboards) together with bassist Björn Englén and different singers like Ripper Owens Judas Priest, Iced Earth, Yngwie Malmsteen) and Oni Logan (Lynch Mob) that worked as a Dio tribute band. Recently the Dio Returns tour tried its wings. Dio returns is basically the Dio Disciples with a RJD hologram singing about six to eight songs per night. What will happen to that project remains to be senn as some love it and some hate, thinking that it’s just another way to milk out some cash from Ronnie’s legacy. However, Ronnie’s widow Wendy is part of it, make of that what you will. The latest Dio-linked project to see the light is Dream Child, a project spawned out of Dio Disciples, that contains Goldy and Wright plus bassist Rudy Sarzo (Ozzy, Quiet Riot, Whitesnake and briefly in Dio) with MSG keyboarder/guitarist Wayne Findlay and new singer, Argentina-born Diego Valdez, a powerhouse vocalist to some, a Dio clone to others. And of course, these five merry men have now provided us with an album.
The album opens with “Under The Wire”, the leading single and video. What we get her is an upbeat, Classic Hard Rock meets Metal stomper that sounds a lot like Dio – a less 80’s version of the Dream Evil (1987). It’s a heavy and tough rocker with a bite but unfortuantely a bit forgettable. It’s an ok tune but I can’t make it stick at all. And Valdez, well, yes he sounds so much like RJD it’s scary. But what a voice. “You Can’t Take Me Down” starts out soft in a Black Sabbath “Sign Of The Southern Cross” kind of way but gets heavier with a bouncy rhythm only to go rock and roll in the vein of Rainbow’s “Long Live Rock n’ Roll” style. The verses takes a slower, almost ballad-like pace with the chorus brings on a more striking and heavy Rainbow vibe. Again, I find this a good tune but for me it’s not catchy enough.
“Games Of Shadows” is a heavy and dark track in mid-pace that could have comes of Dio’s Magica (2000) sessions. It’s a pounding and atmospheric piece with a big keyboard sound and a thounderous rhythm section signed Sarzo and Wright. A killer track that screams Dio a long way and clearly the best track so far. “It Is What It Is” is an uptempo hard rocker where 90’s Dio meets American Stadium Rock with a sleazier vibe. A dark and heavy middle-break comes in and brings on a more laid-back and atmospheric mood which kind of saves the tune as the rest of it is a total filler. “Playing With Fire” strikes with a pumping groove and a pretty smooth melody line which makes the tune shy away a bit from the classic Dio formula. Think Dio singing in a Metal-influenced Arena Rock band back in 1989 and you’ll get the picture here. The refrain is very catchy but the rest of the song is quite mediocre.
The slower paced “Light Of The Dark” goes for the classic Dio style where the refrain brings up the tempo a notch. It’s a bit on the pompous side with a dark ambience and the big keyboard arrangement brings both Rainbow’s “Gates Of Babylon” and “Stargazer” to mind. It’s an epic track with memorable melodies and despite the song’s obvious influences, it’s a really good song. Latest single “Midnight Song” is groove as hell, kinda like Rainbow gets drunk with ZZ Top. The rhythm is based on “Long Live Rock’n’Roll” but Dio’s “Wild One” also comes to mind in the song. Speaking of “Long Live Rock’n’Roll”, the chorus is a huge rip-off from there. It’s not a bad song but it’s a too obvious theft. The heavy and dark title-track sends a nod to the big, epic tracks that Dio always included on their albums – think “All The Fools Sailed Away” and “Sacred Heart”. Punchy and tough, melodic and pompous, bombastic and memorable with fat guitars and big keyboards. It’s a very good song but it can’t hold a candle to the mentioned classics.
Dream Child stays put for more epicism (did I just invent a new word here?) with “Washed Upon The Shore”. It starts out that way anyway, heavy and slow just like they are going for an “Egypt (The Chains Are On)” vibe. It also brings on some progressive turn when the song goes into a more edgy, straight-forward Heavy Metal route which sounds pretty neat. It takes close to three and a half minutes before the vocals kicks in – a brave move – and that’s when the song slow and heavy again. The tune is a bit jammy at times and holds another instrumental part that’s all Classic Rock and brings on a Deep Purple influence. It’s an ok tune but it feels like their stretching things a bit too far here, taking on things they really can’t get away with.
“In A World So Cold” brings on a nice, heavy groove and contains a sound and style that’s reminiscent of Master Of The Moon (2004). By the time of that album, Dio didn’t feel relevant anymore and maybe that’s why RJD decided to work with Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler again. Said album is an ok album but quite forgettable and so is this song. “Weird World” is a bit of a grower. At first, I didn’t like it much but now i dig the groovy rhythm, the Tony carey-like keyboard sound and Craig’s fat guitar. Without being radio-friendly one bit, the tune is very memorable and the chorus grabs a hold pretty much on the go. Very good. “One Step Beyond The Grave” closes the album with a style not a far cry from Dio’s 1990 album Lock Up The Wolves. It’s a heavy nine-minute, doomy Metal piece with big riffs, a pounding, hauling rhythm and a good enough melody. It works as a closer on an album of this calibre and it is good but hardly a masterpiece.
Make no mistake, this is a Dio off-shoot both soundwise and lyrically and the guys have tried their best to make a Dio album without Ronnie. But the Dio connections here are members that weren’t there from the beginning and the fact is, they were all onboard when Dio started to go down-hill – which is why the album sounds like it does. It’s not a bad record but the problem here is that the songs just aren’t memorable enough. I can sure enjoy this album at times but another fact is that if I want to listen to Dio, then I will choose a Dio record. So while they’re all very good musicians and Valdez got a very strong voice with a broad range – hell, the guy sounds exactly like RJD at every stance – and I do appreciate what they’re trying to do here, which is to keep Dio’s legacy going, the songs here just don’t cut it all the way. Close but no cigar!
1. Under The Wire
2. You Can’t Take Me Down
3. Games Of Shadows
4. It Is What It Is
5. Playin’ With Fire
6. Light Of The Dark
7. Midnight Song
8. Until Death Do We Meet Again
9. Washed Upon The Shore
10. In A World So Cold
11. Weird World
12. One Step Beyond The Grave