‘Rainbow In The Dark’ Leaves Readers Wanting More In The Best Way Possible

Courtesy: Permuted Press

Ronnie James Dio is one of the most prolific figures in the modern history of music.  That goes without saying.  Dio fronted not one, not two, but three of the most famous and respected acts in the history of rock in Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and his own band.  While not a physically large figure on stage, his persona more than made up for that.  As his forthcoming autobiography, Rainbow in the Dark shows, his time with those bands are only a thumbnail of what is a much bigger overall career and life.  Set for release July 27 through Permuted Press, the 244-page autobiography is a rich look at the first part of Dio’s life.  The story featured therein serves as the book’s foundation and will be discussed shortly.  The story’s transitions add to the story’s appeal and will be addressed a little later.  The pictures that are incorporated into the story add a nice aesthetic element to the whole and round out the book’s most important elements.  Each item noted is important in its own right to the whole of the book.  All things considered, they make this book a welcome personal recounting of Ronnie James Dio’s life.  It will leave audiences hoping that his widow, who compiled Dio’s writings for the book, will eventually release a follow-up that completes his story.

Permuted Press’ forthcoming Ronnie James Dio biography, Rainbow in the Dark is a book that every rock and hard rock fan will enjoy.  Given, it is hardly the only biography or even autobiography ever released from any rock act, but is still fully enjoyable in its own right.  Its engagement and entertainment comes in large part through its story.  The story is told through Dio’s own words and starts in his childhood living in upstate New York.  Right from the outset, audiences learn that ultimately, Dio’s grandparents are really to thank for him becoming a musician and performer.  As he reveals here early on, they made Dio’s father and his siblings learn to play an instrument.  His own father did the same to him, too, repeating history.  If not for that, it is possible that Dio might have otherwise pursued a career in baseball.  It was this fateful event that would set Dio on a lifelong course that would eventually see him and his band mates in Elf record for Deep Purple’s own Purple Records.  Those recordings and tours with Deep Purple would eventually lead to the biggest part of his career.  The stories that Dio shares along the way are, at times laugh-inspiring in the best way possible, and at other times so dramatic.  Case in point is Dio’s recollection of the fateful night in which a crash involving a drunk driver claimed the life of one of his then band mates in Ronnie Dio and the Prophets and put his own life and that of another in jeopardy.    One of the funnier recollections shared along the way comes as Dio shares how he used his stage name (as it turns out, Dio is not his real name.  This will be left for audiences to learn for themselves.  He was in fact Italian by direct descent) at a gig during his formative years and almost got himself tied up in the mob.  Even later in the story, Dio shares another funny and albeit short anecdote about how he and Wendy Dio got used to living out of their suitcases while Dio was a member of Rainbow.  Again it is only a short statement, but still will leave plenty of people laughing.  Speaking of Wendy, she points out in the books preface that the story presented here culminates in her late, great husband debuting with his own band at Madison Square Garden in 1987.  It also opens at that point before going back to Ronnie’s childhood.  The whole story is so easy to read from start to finish because at no point do Ronnie’s notes try to be flowery.  He uses simple language that is accessible to everybody.  The result is that the story, which again spans 244 pages, can be finished in a day or two at the most.  That accessibility and the equally engaging and entertaining stories do a lot to make this (hopefully first) part of RJD’s life and career so enthralling.  The transitions that are used in telling his story play their own part in the story’s appeal.

The transitions that are used to help tell Ronnie James Dio’s story are so important because they are so clear and solid throughout the book.  That is thanks to the way that Ronnie started and ended each of his writings.  Those points perfectly connect the chapters.  Add in clear division points that involve blank pages and pictures, and the whole makes the story progress that much more smoothly.  Those blank pages and pictures are important because they feel almost like virtual commercial breaks within the story.  They, together with the solid wording connecting the stories, completely ensure readers’ maintained engagement and entertainment, showing completely, the importance of the story’s transitions.  Keeping all of this in mind, there is a lot for readers to alike about this story of Ronnie James Dio’s life and career.  It still is just a portion of what makes the story so appealing.  The noted pictures used between the chapters round out the story’s most important elements.

The pictures that are presented throughout Rainbow in the Dark are important because they honestly help to tell the story in their own right.  Case in point is an early picture of Ronnie as a boy with his parents.  Readers will note that Ronnie’s father is in a military uniform.  That might help to explain the sense that Ronnie explains he got of his father.  That sense in question is a determination to make sure one is one’s best self possible.  That is a value that the military does in fact instill in its personnel young and old alike.  A later picture of Ronnie with his band mates in Elf during the 1970s made them comparable to the look of bands, such as Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Allman Brothers Band, and others.  Ronnie explains in the story that follows the story, a laugh-inducing anecdote about not wanting to cut those long locks, but seemingly having to in order to help market the band.  It is another way in which the pictures tie in to the story to help enrich the reading experience.  On another note, there is also a picture of Ronnie with Ritchie Blackmore in the early days of Rainbow backstage before a show.  It helps to bridge two other chapters in which Ronnie talks about that part of his career.  It is such a casual picture, clearly not staged.  Together with his own words, it showed how happy Ronnie was at that time.  Between these pictures and so many others, the pictures prove to tell the story here just as much as the story itself.  Keeping this in mind along with the impact of the smooth transitions, the whole of these noted items makes Rainbow in the Dark a fully immersive, engaging and entertaining story of one of rock’s greatest figures.

Permuted Press’ forthcoming presentation of Rainbow in the Dark is a wonderfully engaging and entertaining look into the life and career of Ronnie James Dio.  The story itself is told through Ronnie’s own words on pages up on pages of collected notes.  The stories are at times laugh-inspiring and at others heartbreaking.  Through it all, the stories are told simply, making the story fully accessible for readers.  This is in itself, reason enough for audiences to read this story.  The transitions that are used between the story[s chapters build on the appeal established by the story.  That is because of their fluidity.  The manner in which Ronnie ends and begins each story is the biggest part of that fluidity.  The blank pages and pictures used between the chapters also play into that fluidity.  That is because they allow readers a moment to take in everything before moving on to each chapter.  Speaking of the pictures, they do well as visual aids, helping to tell the story just as much as Ronnie’s own words.  In some cases, they add even more to the story.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of this book.  All things considered, they make Rainbow in the Dark a story that will appeal to a wide range of readers.  The book is scheduled for release next Friday, July 27, through Permute Press.  More information on the book is available along with all of Dio’s latest news at:

Website: https://ronniejamesdio.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OfficialRonnieJamesDio

Twitter: https://twitter.com/OfficialRJDio

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.  

Lord’s New Record Is A Covers Compilation That Is Actually Worth Hearing

Courtesy: Dominus Records

Independent rock band Lord released its latest record this week.  Its new covers compilation, Undercovers Vol. 1 released Friday through Dominus Records.  The 23-song (yes, 23 songs) comes less than a year after the trio released its then latest EP, Chaos Raining, and approximately two years after the release of its then latest new album, Fallen Idols.  This latest compilation stands out from so many other compilations already released this year in part because of its featured songs.  This will be discussed shortly.  The band’s take on the songs makes for its own share of interest and will be discussed a little later.  The songs’ sequencing puts the finishing touch to the record’s presentation.  When this element is considered along with the other noted items, the record in whole proves that while it is largely a space filler between albums, is still a positive addition to Lord’s catalog.

Lord’s new covers compilation, Undercovers Vol. 1 is a positive new presentation from the longtime independent hard rock band.  The record’s appeal comes in large part through its songs.  The songs are important to note in that they are not just a bunch of songs that the band recorded specially for this compilation.  Rather, they are mostly covers that the band has recorded throughout its life and has only now made available together.  Simply put, they were brought together as a way to entertain the band’s fans in lieu of a live recording and even new live dates while promoters and venue heads decide their next steps for live music.  They are not just some random space-filler used to appease contractual obligations.

Bassist Andy Dowling explained the songs’ collection during a recent interview.

“Covers have been a big love of ours since the early days of Dungeon right up to and including now,” said Dowling. “Over the years in Lord these tracks have ended up on limited edition releases, bonus tracks in isolated parts of the world and other weird and wonderful places. These songs have been scattered over so many different places that even we struggle ourselves to remember where on earth all of these songs can be found.” 

“While bands around the world continue to navigate these uncertain times, we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to release this collection of cover songs, as well as new recordings, to keep the LORD machine moving while we continue to write new music,” he added. 

Additionally, Dowling pointed out that two of the songs featured in the compilation —  Savage Garden’s ‘To the Moon and Back’ and Judas Priest’s ‘Reckless’ – were the only songs specially recorded for the compilation.  Those two songs are only a small portion of the 23 (yes, 23) total songs featured in this recording, and are important because they are a highlight of the diversity in the collection.  The band also took on The Police (‘Message in a Bottle’) here, as well as songs from Bon Jovi, Helloween, Metallica, and Little River Band just to name a handful of other acts featured in the compilation.  The short and simple is that the bands covered here come from a wide range of genres.  From hard rock –Metallica, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Anthrax – to classic rock – Little River Band – to 80s hair rock – Bon Jovi – to prog – Queensryche, Symphony X – to mainstream pop and rock – The Police, Savage Garden – Lord takes on music from so many influences.  That diversity in the bands and music featured here helps to build the band’s reputation and at the same time, perhaps even introduce audiences to music to which they might not have otherwise listened.  If for no other reason, that diversity in the bands and songs will keep audiences engaged and entertained.  It is of course just one of the elements that make this recording so interesting.  The band’s performance of said songs adds to the record’s interest.

Lord’s take on The Police’s ‘Message in a Bottle’ is just one example of the importance of the band’s performances.  Lord’s take on the classic song is interesting in that while it stays largely true to its source material, it essentially amps up that original in a sort of 80s power metal style work.  That updated take — complete with machine gun-fast bass drum work, melodic guitar lines, and operatic vocals – shows that the song strangely enough works just as well in this case as in the original presentation.  It is not one of those woks that hits listeners in its first listen, either.  Rather, it will grow on listeners with each listening, highlighting its longevity.

The band’s take on a-ha’s ‘The Sun Always Shines on TV’ is yet another example of the band’s performances here.  In the case of this performance, the band has opted more for an 80s hair metal style performance that makes for quite the contrast against a-ha’s keyboard-driven original composition.  There is the slightest touch of a power ballad early on in the original composition, what with the string arrangement, but that soon gives way to the band’s more familiar new wave approach, which is more present throughout the song.  Lord’s take on the song, as noted, is more of an 80s hair power ballad type work.  It gives a-ha’s original quite the unique new identity in this case with its amped up take on the song.  Where it ends up standing with listeners will be left for those audiences to decide.  That aside, it definitely makes for its own interest. 

W.A.S.P. is another of the bands whose work is covered in this compilation.  In this case, Lord took on the band’s hit song ‘Wild Child.’  In this case, the stylistic approach taken by Lord is largely the same as that of W.A.S.P.  The difference is that Lord’s cover is actually an improvement on the original.  It would seem here that is more due to the production.  The production makes the song sound so much fuller and richer here than the original.  It makes the song sound more modern with a throwback feel.  To that end, it is yet another example of the impact of the band’s performances here, and the importance thereof.  When it is considered along with the other performances noted here and the rest of the record’s featured performances, the whole of those performances makes for even more engagement and entertainment.  It is just one more example of what makes this compilation worth hearing.  The sequencing of the songs featured in this compilation rounds out its most important elements.

The sequencing of Undercovers Vol. 1 is important to examine because of its role in the record’s general effect.  The record starts in contemplative fashion with its cover of Savage Garden’s ‘To the Moon and Back’ but very quickly after, it picks up with its take of Iron Maiden’s ‘Judas Be My Guide.’  It is not even until the record reaches its midpoint in its take of Cutting Crew’s ‘(I Just) Died In Your Arms’ that the album’s energy even remotely pulls back.  From that point on, the compilation’s energy remains relatively high, even as the band takes on what are some otherwise reserved songs.  Even in those cases, the band manages to amp up those songs, including their energies.  So overall, the sequencing ensures that the album’s energy remains relatively high throughout its 100-minute (one hour, 40 minute) run time.  That the record’s energy remains relatively high, and even gives a break point roughly halfway through ensures that the record will run fluidly throughout, ensuring even more, listeners’ engagement and entertainment.  When that certain engagement and entertainment is considered with the impact of the band’s unique performances and the variety of songs featured here, that whole makes the compilation overall, its own standout presentation.  Add in the fact that this compilation marks the first time that the band has ever united the previously recorded covers in one setting, and the compilation gains even more appeal.  It shows that this was not just some randomly recorded presentation used to appease contractual obligations.  Between this and everything else noted, the record in whole proves to be a covers collection that is actually worth hearing.

Lord’s new covers compilation Undercovers Vol. 1 is an interesting presentation that rockers and even pop music fans alike will find worth hearing at least once.  That is due in part to the songs featured in the recording.  The band does not just take on a bunch of hard rock and metal songs here, though there are a lot of those songs featured here.  The band also takes on songs from pop and pop rock acts, such as Savage Garden, The Police,  a-ha, and even Kylie Minogue.  That variety in itself makes for reason enough to hear this presentation.  That only two of the songs featured here were specially recorded for the compilation shows that this was not just some randomly thrown together presentation that was made to appease any contractual obligations for the band.  Rather, it was a way for the band to bring together so many of the covers that it has recorded over the course of its life.  That makes the presentation more special in itself.  The band’s performance of the featured covers makes for its own appeal.  That is because they give those originals their own unique identities from one to the next.  The songs’ sequencing rounds out the most important of the compilation’s elements.  That is because it ensures the record’s pacing remains stable throughout while also constantly giving listeners something interesting rather than redundant.  Each item noted here is unquestionably important in its own way to the whole of the compilation’s presentation.  All things considered, they make the record a work that despite being a covers compilation, still a presentation that is worth hearing, and at least once at that. Undercovers Vol. 1 is available now through Dominus Records.

More information on Undercovers Vol. 1 is available along with all of Lord’s latest news and more at:

Websitehttps://www.lord.net.au

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/lordofficial

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/lordofficial

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Rhino, Warner Records’ Black Sabbath Re-issues Are Mostly Successful Presentations

Courtesy: Rhino Records/Warner Records

It goes without saying that Black Sabbath is one of the most important and influential bands in the modern history of music.  The same can be said easily of its second front man, Ronnie James Dio.  The two sides came together to craft only three albums – Heaven and Hell (1980), Mob Rules (1981), and Dehumanizer (1992) – amid their tumultuous relationship.  Now thanks to Rhino Records and Warner Records, the first two of those three records are newly available.  Released Friday through Rhino Records and Warner Records, the re-issues will find appeal among audiences, though are imperfect.  The imperfection comes from concerns raised through the incongruence of the bonus content between the re-issues’ platforms.  This will be discussed a little later.  The re-issues’ most important positive comes in the form of their liner notes.  They will be discussed shortly.  That the re-issues are available on two platforms each is its own important element that will be discussed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the re-issues’ presentations.  All things considered, they make the re-issues mostly positive additions to any hard rock and Black Sabbath fan’s library.

Rhino Records and Warner Records’ new re-issues of Black Sabbath’s Heaven and Hell and Mob Rules are interesting new presentations of the iconic albums.  The records’ re-issues stand out positively in large part due to their liner notes.  The liner notes featured in the Heaven and Hell re-issue were crafted by Rolling Stone magazine writer Kory Grow and artist Lynn Curlee, who created the album’s original cover art.  The duo’s notes create a solid framework for the record.  One of the most interesting items that Grow points out in his notes is that apparently, Ronnie James Dio was not immediately on board when the vocalist opening came up with Black Sabbath.  Grow cites comments from Dio’s wife Wendy, writing that she said of this item, “When Ronnie went into Sabbath, I don’t think he was elated about the job at first…he was more of a melodic  singer and writer.”  Grow goes on to note that Dio eventually found his place within the band.  This is information that audiences are not going to find on Wikipedia when researching Black Sabbath, and just one of Grow’s most notable reflections.   He also points out how the job of firing Ozzy Osbourne from the band ended up on then drummer Bill Ward.  Grow cites Ward in the liner notes’ opening page as saying of the unenviable duty, “Sometimes I don’t know if I’ve ever actually gotten over it.”  That statement would make sense, considering Ward’s own unceremonious departure from the band.  The guilt he felt likely led to Ward’s own alcoholism, and the fight that led to his split from the group.   As if all of that is not enough, Grow also points out that Dio’s famed devil horns sign rose to fame during his first-ever live run with Black Sabbath.  The story is so interesting because, as Grow points out, the development of the hand gesture was in fact part of Dio’s much bigger attempt to separate himself as a personality from Osbourne.  It shows how deeply Dio thought about making sure he was not compared to Osbourne.  This is one more item that is sure to engage and entertain audiences in regards to the liner notes.  When the rest of Grow’s notes are considered along with the items pointed out here, the whole of his work in this case makes for a fully engaging and entertaining introduction to the album.

Staying on the note of the liner notes, Curlee’s recollection of how she was picked to create the Heaven and Hell cover art makes for its own interest.  Curlee points out that until having been commissioned to create the cover art, she had never even listened to Black Sabbath.  That admission will generate its own share of laughs and appreciation for her work.  Audiences will be just as interested to learn the back story on the art.  She points out that it in fact was a painting that she had already created prior to having been commissioned for the Heaven and Hell project.  In other words, she did not have to do but so much to create the album’s cover art.  Even more interesting here is Curlee’s note that she has only listened to Heaven and Hell maybe twice in her life.  There is no disrespect aimed at the band, just admission that she is more a fan of 80s new wave than metal.  Curlee’s overall reflections, together with those of Grow, form a solid foundation for Heaven and Hell.  They collectively show so much why the record’s liner notes are so important to its whole.

Grow also crafted the primary liner notes for the re-issue of Mob Rules.  In the case of these notes, audiences will be interested to learn of the connection between Black Sabbath and The Beatles in this record.  Grow tells the story here that in writing the title song for Mob Rules, the band actually used instruments that were themselves used by The Beatles at a house previously used by that band in record.  As Grow points out in his liner notes, the instruments were “found lying around.”  He later points out that when the band later relocated to the U.S. to finish crafting Mob Rules, the title track had to be redone because as Grow notes in using The Beatles’ old equipment, “the sound of the track was completely different from the rest of the record.”  He cites bassist Geezer Butler as saying that the amp that he used at Lennon’s mansion led to sound problems.  This story alone is enough to keep audiences engaged and entertained.  When it is considered along with the rest of Grow’s notes, the whole makes Grow’s notes in this case just as entertaining and engaging as those that he crafted for the Heaven and Hell re-issue. 

Artist Greg Hildebrandt, who created the cover art for Mob Rules adds to the engagement and entertainment through the liner notes.  He points out in his commentary that as with Curlee, he knew nothing of Black Sabbath when he was tapped to create Mob Rules’ cover art.  The difference here is that being commissioned for the project, his fandom for the band grew.  Additionally, Hildebrandt points out in his notes, a nightmare that he had was the inspiration for the Mob Rules cover art.  That anecdote will be left for audiences to learn themselves.   He explains how that painting went on to become the album’s cover.   Here’s a hint:  It happened when Black Sabbath’s members made the first move.  That will also be left for audiences to learn for themselves.  Between these stories and those shared by Grow, no doubt is left as to the importance of this re-issue’s bonus liner notes.  Keeping in mind the importance of these notes and those featured with the Heaven and Hell liner notes, the overall liner notes clearly prove to be an important aspect of these re-issues.  They do a lot to make these re-issues a joy for audiences.  For all the good that the liner notes do for the re-issues, there is one negative to the recordings.  It comes believe it or not through the bonus content.

Typically when one thinks of bonus content, such content is considered a good thing.  For the most part, the bonus content featured in the re-issues is good.  The problem comes in comparing the bonus content featured in the re-issues in their CD and vinyl platforms.   The CD platforms present more bonus content than the vinyl presentations.  In the case of the Heaven and Hell re-issue, the live tracks recorded at the Hammersmith Odeon in London between Dec. 31, 1981 and Jan. 2 1982 are featured in the re-issue’s CD platform, but not the vinyl presentation.  Everything else is there on each platform in terms of the primary and bonus content, but that one aspect separates the two platforms’ presentations.  In regards to the Mob Rules re-issue, there is a discrepancy in the bonus content here, too.    In this case, the discrepancy is even wider.  The bonus live content from the band’s Apr. 22, 1982 show is presented only on the re-issue’s CD platform.  Why the incongruence happened with the re-issues’ bonus content happened is anyone’s guess.  It is not explained in either record’s liner notes.  Regardless, it is a limitation that rewards only those who buy CDs versus those who prefer vinyl.  It is a weird direct counter to Niji Entertainment’s recent re-issues of Dio’s Evil or Divine: Live in NYC and Holy Diver Live.  Those re-issues were clearly aimed more at Dio fans who prefer vinyl to CD.  These Black Sabbath re-issues, which feature Dio fronting the band, are aimed more at CD aficionados rather than vinyl fans.  That there is a certain bias (intended or not) here detracts from the re-issues’ overall presentations.  Of course even as much as it detracts from the re-issues’ presentations, it is not enough to make them failures.  To that end, there is one more positive to note here, that being that the re-issues were made available on both platforms.

It would have been easy for officials at Rhino Records and Warner Records to limit these Black Sabbath re-issues to just one platform or another in deciding how to release them.  That the decision was made to offer the records to issues on both sides of the “musical aisle” showed that those officials meant to reach as many audiences as possible.  This may seem inconsequential on the surface, but the fact of the matter is that there are labels that to this day, release albums, EPs and re-issues strictly on one platform or another.  Doing so limits record sales, and in turn, appeal for records and acts.  So in providing the re-issues on both platforms means that equal numbers of audiences will get to experience them.  It is just too bad that all of the bonus content was not presented in each platform.  Even with that one negative in mind, the wide availability of the re-issues in terms of platforms, and the liner notes that accompany the re-issues more than make the re-issues positive presentations.  They make the re-issues presentations that hard rock fans and Black Sabbath fans alike will mostly appreciate.

Rhino Records and Warner Records’ brand new re-issues of Black Sabbath’s Heaven and Hell and Mob Rules are largely successful offerings for hard rock and Black Sabbath fans alike.  That is due in part to the extensive liner notes that come with the re-issues.  While the re-issues’ liner notes make for plenty of engagement and entertainment, the re-issues do have one notable negative, the incongruence of certain bonus content between the platforms on which the albums were re-issued.  There is some bonus content featured in the re-issues’ CD presentations that was not featured in their vinyl presentations.  Why that is the case is anyone’s guess.  Regardless, it is not enough to make the re-issues failures, though it is a matter that one cannot ignore.  The very fact that the recordings were re-issued on CD and vinyl ensures a far reaching appeal and potentially high sales for the records.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the recordings.  All things considered, they make the recordings welcome additions to any hard rock and Black Sabbath fan’s library.  The re-issues are available now.

More information on this and other titles from Rhino Records is available online at:

Websitehttps://www.rhino.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/RHINO

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/Rhino_Records

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

BMG, Niji Entertainment’s New Dio Live Re-Issues Will Appeal To Dio’s Most Devoted, Vinyl-Loving Fans

Courtesy: BMG/Niji Entertainment

Late last year, representatives with Niji Entertainment – the company responsible for many recent Dio re-issues – and BMG announced that the were partnering to launch a new series of re-issues of Dio’s archived live recordings.  That series launched Friday with the re-issues of his previously released live recordings Evil or Divine: Live in New York City and Holy Diver Live.  These two re-issues are presentations that will appeal to some audiences and at the same time, prove somewhat intriguing.  The recordings will prove appealing in part because of their expanded availability.  This will be discussed shortly.  The set lists featured in each set list makes them intriguing.  This will be discussed a little later.  The additional content featured with the re-issues will appeal to audiences, too, but only to a point.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of these first two re-issues in BMG and Niji Entertainment’s Dio live re-issues series.  All things considered, they make the recordings a presentation that will appeal primarily to Dio’s most devoted fans.

BMG and Niji Entertainment’s brand new re-issues of his live recordings Evil or DivineLive in New York City and Holy Diver Live are presentations that will find appeal among a specific audience group.  That group is the most devoted Dio fans.  That is due in part to the fact that the previously out-of-print recordings have been made available in this presentation on two separate platforms – CD and LP.  Evil or Divine: Live in New York City is now available on 2CD mediabook and 3LP set.  Specific details were not provided information presented about the recordings, so it has to be assumed in this case, the CDs in question contain the 15-song set from the original 2002 concert while the “book” features pictures and new liner notes about the concert.  The LP set contains the noted concert, too.  This will appeal to those audiences who are more fan vinyls than CDs. 

The re-issue of Holy Diver Live also features the original concert, which was recorded in 2005, on a 3LP set.  Once again, this will appeal mainly to vinyl aficionados as part of the ongoing to appeal to those audiences.  What’s more, the recording was pulled directly from the recording’s original 2006 presentation on CD, DVD and Blu-ray.  In other words, audiences get from this presentation the same concert that they got in the concert’s previous release here on each platform, just in an audio-only format instead of on a full audio-visual presentation.  On a similar note, the track listing of the Live in New York City is lifted from the concert’s 2003 DVD release rather than its 2005 CD release.  This leads into the recordings’ most intriguing and somewhat problematic issue, that of the track listings as they relate to the platforms on which they have been released here.

Courtesy: BMG/Niji Entertainment

It has been noted that the new re-issues of Dio’s live recordings Evil or Divine: Live in New York City and Holy Diver Live are positives for Dio’s most devoted fan base because in this case, BMG and Niji Entertainment have made them available on CD as well as vinyl sets.  Those vinyl sets even feature some bonus content, which will be discussed later.  While that is true, one also cannot help but wonder why the recordings were not also re-issued on Blu-ray in this case.  That is especially the case with Evil or Divine: Live in New York City.  The set list from that recording’s DVD release is what audiences get on the 2CD and 3LP set here.  It has yet to receive a Blu-ray re-issue, and considering that concerts are meant to be heard and seen, there is no denying that having the DVD set list re-issued exclusively on audio rather than also on audio-visual presentations is slightly disconcerting.  Even in the case of Holy Diver Live, knowing that the set list featured in the CD and LP platforms came direct from the concert’s previous releases, one cannot help but wonder why the concert was not re-issued here on DVD and Blu-ray as well complete with the bonus content featured in the vinyl set.  The end result here is that while it is good that these concerts have been re-issued, it becomes clear that these re-issues are being aimed primarily at Dio fans who are also vinyl fans more so than Dio fans in general.  Yes fans who prefer CDs to vinyl are rewarded, but fans who prefer experiencing concerts in full rather than those who would take them in on audio-only platforms are left out here.  So to that end, while the availability is expanded here, that expansion is still only to a point. It is not enough to make these re-issues failures, but that aside, it does still detract from the recordings’ presentations.

While the limited expansion of Dio’s new live recordings definitely detracts from the re-issues’ success, the bonus content offered to those who can look past that issue will appeal in its own way to the noted targeted audiences.  The CD presentations of each re-issue offer those audiences what has to be assumed to be (again no details about the specifics of the mediabooks were released in the information about the re-issues) extra photos and possible liner notes for the concerts.  While maybe not a whole lot, those possible photos will make up slightly for the concerts not being re-issued on DVD and/or Blu-ray.  They will help give audiences at least a glimpse into the concerts.  The vinyls feature their own bonuses.  The Live in New York City vinyl offers audiences four songs total from Dio’s albums, Angry Machines, Magica, Killing the Dragon, and Master of the Moon.  BMG and Niji Entertainment, by the way, re-issued all four of those albums on CD last year.  The Holy Diver Live brings in the same bonus content that was featured in its original release so long ago.  So in all, audiences who purchase the vinyl re-issues of the recordings will get their own bonus content, as will fans who get the CD re-issues.  It is just that those who buy the vinyl re-issues will get even more out of those re-issues than those who buy the CD re-issues.  To that end, the bonus content featured in these recordings’ re-issues, on each available platform, but it is a limited positive.  That is because audiences who get the vinyls really get more albeit slightly more, than those who buy the recordings’ CD re-issues.  Keeping this in mind along with everything else discussed here, it becomes clear that while audiences will appreciate having these previously out-of-print recordings in their music libraries, those who do will be a more targeted audience than all of Dio’s fans.

BMG and Niji Entertainment’s new re-issues of his live recordings Evil or Divine: Live in New York City and Holy Diver Live are interesting presentations.  They give audiences who might not have otherwise had the recordings on any of the platforms from their previous releases something to appreciate.  That is due to the somewhat expanded availability of the recordings here.  Fans of vinyl and those of CDs will both be able to take in the concerts on the respective platforms.  Of course while audiences are also somewhat punished because the recordings were not re-issued on DVD or Blu-ray whereas their predecessors were.  That is going to limit the appeal for these recordings.  The bonus content featured with the recordings offers its own appeal for audiences. Though considering the information provided did not lay out as directly, the bonus content featured in the CD platforms as the vinyl re-issues, one cannot help but feel that the vinyl re-issues offer more to appreciate in terms of bonus content than the CD re-issues.  Keeping all of this in mind, BMG and Niji Entertainment’s new re-issues of Evil or Divine: Live in New York City and Holy Diver Live will appeal to a Dio’s most devoted fans, especially those who prefer vinyl to any other platform.  These re-issues are available now.

More information on BMG and Niji Entertainment’s new live Dio re-issues is available along with all of the latest Ronnie James Dio news at:

Websitehttps://ronniejamesdio.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/OfficialRonnieJamesDio

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/OfficialRJDio

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Niji Entertainment’s Re-Issue Of Dio’s ‘Master Of The Moon’ Is One More Strong Tribute To Dio’s Legacy

Courtesy: Niji Entertainment

Niji Entertainment’s new re-issue of Dio’s final album Master of the Moon is a fitting tribute to the band and to the legacy of its namesake founder, Ronnie James Dio.  Re-issued Feb. 21, the album’s latest presentation will appeal just as much to the most devoted Dio fans as its counterparts – Angry Machines, Killing The Dragon and Magia – which were re-issued alongside this recording.  Just as with those noted albums, the primary reason for that appeal is the re-issue’s bonus content, which will be discussed shortly.  The production of the bonus live content plays its own important role in the presentation of this re-issue and will be discussed a little later. The presentation of the primary album content couples with the secondary content and its production and mixing to make the album’s presentation whole.  Each item is important in its own right to the whole of the re-issue.  All things considered, they make Niji Entertainment’s new re-issue of Master of the Moon one more work that the most devoted fans of Dio will appreciate.  Together with the company’s other re-issues, it makes the group in whole a welcome addition to not just any truly devoted Dio fan’s music library, but that of any hard rock purist.

Niji Entertainment’s re-issue of Dio’s 2004 album Master of the Moon is yet another positive offering for the band’s most devoted fans and for any rock purist.  That is due in large part to the bonus content featured with the re-issue.  The bonus content in question is a group of four live recordings captured during Dio’s tour in support of Master of the Moon as well as one studio song – ‘Prisoner of Paradise.’  The latter of the material is important to note in that previously, it was available only in the album’s Japanese release.  So, to have that song finally available for audiences in the U.S. and elsewhere is something in itself that is certain to appeal to those noted audiences.  Two of the four live songs featured in the bonus CD – ‘Heaven & Hell’ and ‘Rainbow in the Dark’ – are featured in Niji Entertainment’s re-issues of Angry Machines and Killing the Dragon, but audiences should once more remember that even with that in mind, the performances themselves are different from one another, because each was captured at a different point in the life of Dio.  The other two songs – ‘Rock and Roll Children’ and ‘The Eyes’ – are not featured on any of the other three Dio re-issues.  ‘The Eyes’ is one of the songs from Master of the Moon, so not only do audiences get a studio performance of said song here, but a live performance to boot.  ‘Rock and Roll Children’ is featured in Dio’s 1985 album Scared Heart.  ‘Rainbow in the Dark’ is from Dio’s debut 1983 album Holy Diver.  ‘Heaven and Hell’ is a work that Dio recorded with the members of Black Sabbath.  All of this is important to note because while maybe not illustrative of Dio’s catalog up to the point of Master of the Moon, the cuts featured in the bonus disc still give audiences a clear picture of the band’s catalog regardless.  What’s more, having that material in a live setting serves even more of a bonus for audiences.  Keeping all of this in mind, it becomes clear why the bonus material featured with Niji Entertainment’s Master of the Moon re-issue is so important to its presentation.  The production and mixing that went into the live cuts adds even more engagement and enjoyment to that material.

The production and mixing that went into the re-issue’s bonus live content creates a largely engaging and entertaining experience for audiences.  The keyboards, guitars, drums and vocals are well-balanced in the band’s performance of ‘Rainbow in the Dark.’  Much the same can be said of the presentation of ‘Rock and Roll Children.’  Audiences get the best seat in the house in this performance.  It is easily the most well produced and mixed of the bonus live performances.  The only one of the performances that stands out for the wrong reason is the band’s performance of ‘Heaven and Hell.’  That performance sounds, sadly, like it was a bootleg in every sense of the word.  Its audio was questionable in terms of its quality.  Why that is the case is anyone’s guess.  Luckily though it is, again, the only negative presentation of the re-issue’s bonus live performances.  The bonus Japanese bonus track ‘Prisoner of Paradise’ proves to be its own engaging and enjoyable power metal style studio track that is just as well-produced and mixed as its live counterparts.  All things considered here, the quality of the presented bonus content builds on the foundation formed by said content and makes the bonus content that much more important to the whole of the album’s re-issue.  Keeping all of this in mind, the bonus content is just a portion of what makes the re-issue of Master of the Moon another positive presentation from Niji Entertainment.  The album’s primary content rounds out its most important elements.

The primary content featured in Master of the Moon is so important to discuss because stylistically, it is such a change of pace for Ronnie James Dio and his fellow musicians.  There are a number of slower, sludge rock style arrangements throughout this album than are present in past Dio albums.  That is not to say that all of the album’s entries present that sound, but the majority do take that approach.  ‘Death By Love,’ which comes late in the album’s 46-minute run, is a bit more up-tempo than its counterparts.  Lyrically, it seems to deal in that all-too-familiar topic of a woman’s power over a man.  ‘One More for the Road,’ the album’s opener, is another of the album’s rare up-tempo works.  This work really takes listeners back to Dio’s early days a la Dream Evil and Sacred Heart.  ‘Master of the Moon’ is another of those slower, sludge rock works, but it also boasts a lyrical theme that is familiar in its mystical theme.  Between all of this and everything else featured in Master of the Moon, the whole of the album offers audiences just as much to appreciate as the bonus content that comes with the album’s re-issue.  Sure, the album is a stylistic change for Dio as a band, but it is a change of pace that works.  Considering this and the impact of the already discussed bonus content, the whole of Master of the Moon becomes a fitting tribute to Ronnie James Dio that hard rock purists will appreciate just as much as Dio’s most devoted fans.  When it is considered with the new re-issues of Magica, Angry Machines and Killing the Dragon, they collectively become a fitting tribute to the never-ending legacy of Ronnie James Dio.

Niji Entertainment’s new re-issue of Master of the Moon is a work that hard rock purists and Dio’s most devoted fan base will appreciate.  That is due in large part to the bonus content that is featured in the album’s re-issue.  The production and mixing of that material adds to its own appeal.  The presentation that is Master of the Moon’s primary content adds even more engagement and enjoyment to the album’s re-issue.  Each noted item is important in its own way to the whole of this re-issue.  All things considered, they make Master of the Moon’s re-issue another positive offering for audiences.  When it is considered along with the re-issues of Magica, Killing the Dragon and Angry Machines, they collectively become a strong statement about RJD and a fitting tribute to his legacy and that of his fellow musicians.  All four albums are available now.  More information on these albums is available online along with all of the latest RJD news at:

 

 

 

Website: http://ronniejamesdio.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/OfficialRonnieJamesDio

Twitter: http://twitter.com/OfficialRJDio

 

 

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Niji Entertainment’s Re-Issue of Dio’s ‘Killing The Dragon’ Cannot Be Killed

Courtesy: Niji Entertainment

Dio’s classic album Killing the Dragon has officially been resurrected again.  The album, originally released in 2002 through Spitfire Records and again in 2007 with Niji Entertainment’s re-issue of Dio’s 2000 album Magica, was re-issued Feb. 21 through Niji Entertainment, which is owned by Ronnie James Dio’s wife.  The latest re-issue marks  at least the second time that Killing the Dragon has been re-issued.  Its latest release is marked most notably by the inclusion by a handful of live performances that will be discussed shortly. While the bonus content featured with the re-issue does a lot to make this presentation appealing, it is just part of the recording’s positive.  The production and mixing that went into each of the lives tracks is worth noting, too.  It will be addressed a little later. The concept at the center of the album itself is yet another key to the whole of the presentation and will also be addressed later.  Each item noted here is important to the whole of the re-issue’s presentation.  All things considered, they make this latest re-issue of Killing The Dragon another work that the most devoted Dio fans will appreciate.

Niji Entertainment’s latest re-issue of Dio’s Killing The Dragon is another pleasing presentation for the band’s most devoted fans.  That is due in no small part to the bonus content that is featured with this re-issue.  The bonus content in question is a group of live performances that was captured during Dio’s 2002-03 “Killing The Dragon Tour.”  The collection is short, featuring six songs at a total of 25 minutes.  While the collection is brief, it should be pointed that that this material was also not featured in the 2007 re-issue of Killing The Dragon.  That re-issue, in fact, was a companion release to Niji Entertainment’s re-issue of another of Dio’s albums, Magica.  Also, of the six bonus live recordings featured here, two of the featured songs – ‘Holy Diver,’ Rock and Roll’ – are repeated here from any of the other three new Dio re-issues.  The only of the re-issues that features the songs is Angry Machines. ‘Heaven & Hell’ is featured on that recording and as a bonus live performance on the new re-issue of Master of the Moon. The thing is that while the songs are repeated, the performances are not repeated.  The performances were captured during different tours, meaning the performances themselves are different despite the songs being the same.  The other three bonus live recordings featured with this re-issue ‘I Speed at Night,’ ‘Killing The Dragon’ and ‘Stand Up And Shout’ come from different points in Ronnie James Dio’s career.  ‘Killing the Dragon’ obviously comes from Killing The Dragon.  ‘Stand Up and Shout’ is taken from Dio’s very first album Holy Diver.  ‘I Speed At Night’ Dio’s 1984 album The Last in Line.  Here is what is important to note here:  When comparing this collective content to that of Dio’s other latest re-issues, that cross section, brief as it may be, makes even richer the overall picture of RJD’s life and career.  To that point, this bonus content – again as brief as it may be – proves in the immediate picture to be valuable, but in the bigger picture, far more valuable.  To that end, this bonus live content gives audiences, actually, a whole lot to appreciate.

While the bonus live recordings featured in this re-issue of Killing The Dragon does a lot to make the presentation appealing, it is just one of the positives of this presentation. The production and mixing that went into each performance makes each performance engaging and entertaining.  Everything that has already been noted of the bonus live material by this critic in the reviews of Niji Entertainment’s other new Dio re-issues applies here, too.  Each element of each performance is expertly balanced throughout each performance.  The sound levels in whole are at just the right volume to the point that listeners will rarely have to adjust the volumes whether on their computers, smart phones, CD players or even stereos.  In other words, the sound balance was handled with expertise in every aspect of that element.  Keeping that in mind, the content and its aesthetics go a long way toward generating plenty of engagement and entertainment for audiences in this bonus material.  It makes the bonus content, again brief as it may be, still valuable in itself and in the bigger picture of Niji Entertainment’s latest Dio re-issues.  Again, it is only part of what makes this re-issue so important to the whole of this album’s re-issue.  The lyrical concept at the center of Killing The Dragon proves invaluable in its own right.

The lyrical theme at the center of Killing the Dragon focuses on the dangers of technological advancements, according to Dio himself in an interview about the album.  He pointed out in the noted interview, that the songs that make up the body of the album are focused on the damage that technology will pose to the world.  Of course he was not the first person to ever make such statement.  Even in 2002, it was a familiar theme, considering that Isaac Asimov warned the world about the dangers of technology decades ago, as did the late physicist Steven Hawking and famed industrial metal outfit Fear Factory in every one of its albums.  Even other bands have addressed the matter before in records that preceded Killing The Dragon.  That aside, it is as relevant today as it was almost two decades ago.  He even went so far as to point out in the noted interview, that one part of the album was a warning against humans becoming essentially slaves to technology.  That is exactly what has become of society.  Just look at how humans have become so dependent on social media in order to emotionally and physiologically survive on a daily basis.  Keeping that in mind, that underlying lyrical concept in the album (and the album’s musical content) does more than its share to make the album engaging and entertaining.  When this is considered alongside the value in the re-issue’s bonus content, the whole of the re-issue proves to be one more work that the most devoted Dio fans will appreciate.

Niji Entertainment’s latest re-issue of Dio’s Killing The Dragon is another welcome addition to the music library of any of the band’s most devoted fans.  That is, as noted here, due in large part to the bonus content featured with the album’s re-issue.  Both by itself and along with the bonus live recordings in the company’s other Dio re-issues, it presents its own share of engagement and entertainment value.  The production and mixing that went into that bonus live material proves important in its own right.  The primary content in this album joins with the previously unreleased bonus live content to make the whole even more enjoyable for the noted audiences.  Each item is important in its own right to the whole of Killing the Dragon.  All things considered, they make this re-issue one more offering that is certain to appeal to Dio’s most devoted audiences.  More information on this and Niji Entertainment’s other new Dio re-issues is available online along with all of the latest Dio news at:

 

 

Website: http://ronniejamesdio.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/OfficialRonnieJamesDio

Twitter: http://twitter.com/OfficialRJDio

 

 

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Pick blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Niji Entertainment’s Re-Issue Of Dio’s ‘Angry Machines’ Will Make Dio Devotees Very Happy

Courtesy: Niji Entertainment

Ronnie James Dio’s classic 1996 album Angry Machines is available again.  The album – the seventh of his 10 total studio recordings – was received to mix reception in its original release.  Now with what is at least its second re-issue – it was also re-issued in 2018 by Niji Entertainment (which is owned by RJD’s wife) – the album is certain to get more cheers than it did in its original release.  That is due in large part to the bonus content featured with its presentation.  This will be discussed shortly.  Speaking of content, content also is the source of the re-issue’s one negative.  The content in question is the presentation’s primary content.  This will be addressed a little later.  While there is one negative to the presentation, it is not enough to ruin this re-issue.  There is one more positive to note, that being the production of the bonus content.  It will also be addressed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of Niji Entertainment’s latest Angry Machines re-issue.  All things considered, they make this take on the album its best presentation to date.

Niji Entertainment’s 2020 re-issue of Dio’s 1996 album Angry Machines is the record’s best presentation to date.  That is due in large part to the bonus content that is featured with the re-issue.  The bonus content in question is a series of live recordings captured during Dio’s 1997 “Angry Machines Tour.”  Audiences get in this bonus content what was at the time, a healthy cross section of Dio’s catalog up to that point.  The 12-song compilation reaches all the way back to Dio’s debut album Holy Diver and as then recent as Angry MachinesStrange Highways is represented, too, with a performance of ‘Jesus Mary and the Holy Ghost – Straight Through The Heart.’  Dio’s own work with Black Sabbath is even represented here with a live performance of ‘The Mob Rules’ and ‘Heaven & Hell.’  As if that is not enough, even RJD’s work with Rainbow is represented with a live performance of ‘Man On the Silver Mountain.’  Simply put, audiences get in this bonus content, a good portrait of RJD’s career.  At the same time, this collection of live performances also serves the purpose of giving audiences something live in a time when every scheduled live performance right now is on hold around the globe.  It serves as a positive enjoyable live recording in itself, and one that was not featured with the recording’s 2018 re-issue.  To that end, it becomes that much more valuable to the whole of this presentation.  It makes this re-issue that much more worth the price whether audiences already own the album’s previous presentations or not.

While the bonus content featured with this new re-issue of Angry Machines does so much to make it appealing, the release’s primary content brings up its lone negative.  The negative here is that whether this is the record’s second re-issue or more, it is notable that the bonus track featured in the album’s Japanese release – ‘God Hates Heavy Metal’ – is once again absent from the album.  Perhaps there is a copyright issue preventing its inclusion in the album.  That the album was released via Mercury Records in Japan and through Mayhem Records in the U.S. in its original release, that would seem to be the only feasible possibility.  That’s even with Niji Entertainment being owned by Ronnie James Dio’s wife.  Given, the song is readily easily to find online thanks to YouTube, but if even for the sense of completion, it would have been nice to have had the song at some point featured with the American release of this record.  That’s especially the case considering the value in the song’s collective musical and lyrical content.  The song’s musical arrangement is a full, heavy horn raiser that sarcastically goes after the religious right that had at that time (and sadly still does today) claim that Dio was in league with Satan.  That obviously is anything but true for anyone who knows anything about him and his career.  Keeping all of this in mind, the lack of that one song in this latest re-issue is not enough to ruin the re-issue by any means.  It is just a minor negative that hopefully when and if this album receives another future re-issue, will be addressed at that point.

Moving on from the one minor negative that is the lack of the bonus track ‘God Hates Heavy Metal,’ it is a minor con to the whole of this re-issue.  Moving back to the positive, the production and mixing of the re-issue’s bonus live content couples with the songs themselves to add even more appeal to the collection.  As with the live material featured in the re-issues of Magica, Killing The Dragon and Master of the Moon, the sound of each performance is spot on.  Dio’s vocals expertly compliment the guitars of then band mate Tracy Grijalva.  Grijalva’s works is just as well-balanced with drummer Vinny Appice’s time keeping and bassist Jeff Pilson’s low-end.  That is the case just as much in the collection’s more upbeat performances and the slower works.  Each performer’s work gets just as much attention as that of his bandmates throughout the course of the 72 minute compilation of live performances.  If one closes one’s eyes, it’s as if one is right there.  If a live DVD or Blu-ray has not already been released that compliments this set, then it certainly needs to be released.  Doubtless that top notch production and mixing will join with the set list itself to make for just as much of an enjoyable presentation.  Keeping this in mind, the production and mixing that went into these live performance recordings couples with the expanse of content to make this bonus disc more than enough reason for the most devoted Dio fans to own this re-issue, especially if said fans do not already own the album’s previous releases.  Even taking into account the lack of that one bonus track with the main album, the recording in whole is still that worth the addition to any Dio devotee’s library.

Niji Entertainment’s latest re-issue of Dio’s Angry Machines is a presentation that is certain to appeal to the most devoted of Ronnie James Dio’s fans.  That is due in large part to the extensive and well-recorded live content featured with the album.  That 72-minute (one hour, 12-minute) collection of songs presents a rich picture at that point, of Dio’s career.  Its production and mixing add even more engagement and enjoyment to the collection.  Even with the lack of one bonus track to the recording’s primary album, that bonus content couples with the primary album to make this a fully appealing presentation for Dio’s most devoted fans.  The re-issue is available now.  More information on this and other RJD releases is available online now along with all of the latest RJD news at:

 

 

 

Website: http://ronniejamesdio.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/OfficialRonnieJamesDio

Twitter: http://twitter.com/OfficialRJDio

 

 

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

‘The Face of Fear’ Shows Artillery Still Has Plenty Of Ammunition

Courtesy: Metal Blade Recprds

It’s hard to believe, but in a little more than a month, 2018 will officially over, and 2019 will be here.  It goes without saying that this year has been another impressive one for the metal community, with powerful new releases from acts, such as Soulfly, Tesseract and Nonpoint just to name a few acts.  Though the year is almost over, the year’s stream of new releases is not yet over.  Veteran metal outfit Artillery released its latest album The Face of Fear on Nov. 16, and it will make critics’ decisions on their year-ender lists that much more difficult.  That is because the Danish band’s ninth full-length studio recording’s far-reaching appeal among thrash and metal fans alike.  This is evidenced right from the album’s outset in its opener/lead/title single.  ‘Sworn Utopia’ does just as much as the album’s title track to support that statement, and will be discussed shortly.  Much the same can be said of ‘Preaching To The Converted,’ which will also be discussed later.  Each song shows in its own way, what makes The Face of Fear yet another strong addition to this year’s already outstanding list of new hard rock and metal albums.  When they are considered along with the album’s other songs not noted here, the whole of the record’s 11-song, 45-minute a work that every thrash and metal purist will appreciate.

Artillery’s latest full-length studio recording, The Face of Fear continues what is for the veteran Danish metal outfit, a long-running tradition of success.  It is a work that will appeal to a wide range of thrash and metal purists from the band’s homeland to America and beyond.  That is proven in part through the album’s opener/title track/lead single.  ‘The Face of Fear’ is an important opener and addition to the album considering the state in which the world currently exists.  As the band noted in a discussion on the song’s lyrical content, “the song is about dealing the end of man by himself.  We create our own phobia about the destruction of the world, but remain disrespectful to the globe.”  Front man Michael Bastholm illustrates that message here, singing right off the top, “The world is gonna fall,” adding in the chorus, “Under crimson skies/Our hopes and dreams, they die/This reality/Why can’t we see.”  Additionally, he sings, “No heeding the signs/No wait for tomorrow/Ready between the lines/the face of fear/The scenes will be erased/The trials that we face/Miasma amber mist/the face of fear/It whispers in your ear/It all will end in tears.”  From here, Bastholm reprises the song’s chorus, driving home even more, the song’s blatant warning of what we as a species are doing to the planet.  The song’s official video serves to illustrate Bastholm’s message even more, featuring images of warplanes dropping bombs, missiles being fired, power plants spewing gases into the atmosphere and mushroom clouds, clear-cut forests and mounds of trash piled up in a landfill.  The images, coupled with the song’s intense lyrical message makes The Face of Fear a star wake-up call of what truly is fear-inducing.

The coupling of the song’s straight forward warning in its lyrical content and the visuals, which drive the song’s message home even more does plenty to make ‘The Face of Fear’ an important addition to The Face of Fear.  That is because of the clarity that they create together.  While they are obviously an important part of the song, they are not its only important elements.  The song’s musical arrangement is just as important to discuss as its lyrical theme.  Bastholm’s power metal vocal delivery style set against the song’s old school thrash arrangement creates an interesting dichotomy for which audiences have already shown their appreciation.  One could argue that juxtaposition harkens back to a style made popular by acts, such as Megadeth, Metallica and Anthrax in the early 1980s.  Keeping this in mind, the combination of the song’s musical arrangement, its lyrical content and even its visual content clearly shows why ‘The Face of Fear’ is an important to its namesake album.  It is just one of the examples of what makes the album in whole another successful offering from the band, too.  ‘Sworn Utopia,’ which comes a little later in the album’s run, is another example of the album’s strength.

‘Sworn Utopia’ stands out in its own way in the overall picture of The Face of Fear in part because of its own musical arrangement.  As with the album’s title track (and so many of the album’s other songs), Bastholm’s power metal vocal delivery style couples with the thrash style approach that is so prevalent throughout the album for another powerhouse arrangement.  The song’s bridge conjures clear thoughts of Megadeth while the verses and chorus add a touch of Judas Priest influence.  Again, that collection of musical influences, which throws listeners back to the heyday and thrash (and power) metal cannot be ignored in its importance.  It is only one part of what makes the song, though.  The song’s lyrical content is just as important to discuss here as the song’s musical content.

The song starts off with the ringing of church bells before Bastholm and company launch into the song, with Bastholm singing, about altar confessions, priests’ celibacy, altar boys and faith put to the test.  He even goes so far as to directly indict the church (apparently the Catholic church) as he sings, “Your law’s religion/Dramatic and vile/Imprisonment…like a child/You must stay absent from glory and joy.”  Little doubt is left as to the song’s target, considering what can be deciphered from Bastholm’s rapid fire delivery.  If any doubt left at this point, his further statement of “For all I care/Make your peace/But don’t you take/It out on kids.”  At this point, there is no doubt left as to the song’s lyrical topic.  It is a full-on indictment of the Catholic church and the sexual abuse scandal that has rocked the church.  Given, it’s not the first time that a band ever took on any religious establishment, but considering the reality of the issue and its importance, it is another pressing matter.  To that end, the fashion through which Bastholm addresses the issue here is powerful in its own right.  The addition of the fury in the song’s musical arrangement helps to illustrate the urgency with which the issue must be addressed and the importance of the matter.  When both elements are considered together, they make the song another clear example of The Face of Fear’s strength.  Even with this in mind, ‘Sworn Utopia’ is still not the last example of what makes The Face of Fear another positive offering from Artillery.  ‘Preaching to the Converted’ shows just as much as ‘The Face of Fear’ and ‘Sworn Utopia’ The Face of Fear’s strength.

‘Preaching to the Converted’ is another full-throttle trash opus that fans of the genre will welcome with arms wide open.  Right from the song’s outset, the old school Megadeth and Metallica influences are on full display, as is even a touch of Exodus.  That is evident in the screaming guitar solos and solid time keeping from the drums.  Lyrically, the song comes across as a socio-political commentary of sorts.  This is inferred as Bastholm sings of people being “shackled” by politicians, those in positions of power “feeding lies” to the populous and mind control of sorts created, again, by those in power.  It is an interesting work that is certain to generate plenty of discussion if it has not already done so.  Discussions aside, it can be said with certainty that this is another work that indicts those in power for what they are doing to the masses.  That includes the world’s political leaders and maybe even military leaders.  Again, it is not the first time that a band has taken this road, but it is no less powerful here than in other acts’ presentations.  To that end, that message, coupled with the song’s full force musical presentation makes the song in whole yet another clear example of what makes The Face of Fear another welcome offering from Artillery.  It still is not the last song that can be cited in supporting that statement, either.  One could just as easily cite the seemingly tongue-in-cheek nature of ‘Dr. Evil,’ the direct discussion of what goes around comes around in ‘Crossroads To Conspiracy’ and the warning about the dangers of alcoholism in ‘Pain,’ the album’s strength becomes that much clearer.  The somewhat Dio-esque ‘Thirst For The Worst’ adds even more depth to the album as does the Metallica-esque sound of ‘New Rage’ and its seeming message about someone who has been wronged.  Between all of those songs and the works directly discussed here, the whole of The Face of Fear clearly shows itself to be another welcome offering from Artillery that shows this band still has plenty of ammunition.

Artillery’s ninth new album The Face of Fear is a strong new statement from the veteran metal outfit.  It is a work that from start to end, shows this band can still hold its own with any of today’s up-and-coming metal acts.  This is evidenced right from the album’s outset in the warning to the world about what it is doing to the planet, its equally stark musical arrangement and accompanying video.  ‘Sworn Utopia’ serves to support that statement even more, as it takes on the atrocities committed by so many members of the Catholic Church.  The seeming indictment of the world’s political leaders through ‘Preaching to the Converted’ supports that statement of the album’s strength even more.  When it is considered along with the likes of ‘Crossroads to Conspiracy,’ ‘Thirst For The Worst,’ ‘Pain’ and the rest of the album’s works, the whole of the record shows that artillery still has plenty of ammunition, and can still hold its own against today’s younger, up-and-coming metal acts.  It is available now.  More information on The Face of Fear is available online now along with all of Artillery’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.artillery.dk

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ARTILLERY.DK

Twitter: http://twitter.com/artillerymetal

 

 

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

‘A Decade Of Dio: 1983 – 1993’ CD Box Set Available Now; Pre-Orders Open Now For Vinyl Box Set

Courtesy;  Rhino Records

Courtesy; Rhino Records

The wait is finally over, Dio fans.

A Decade of Dio: 1983 – 1993 is officially available now on CD box set.  The six-disc box set features Ronnie James Dio’s first six solo albums—Holy Diver (1983), The Last in Line (1984), Sacred Heart (1985), Dream Evil (1987), Lock Up The Wolves (1990), and Strange Highways (1993) in one complete collection.  It is retailing for $34.98.

Pre-orders for the collection’s vinyl platform, which is expected to retail for $99.98, are currently available now here.  Pre-orders can be placed here.  The vinyl collection will be available Friday, October 4th.   It will come with a bonus 7” vinyl single containing the original 1983 take of ‘Evil Eyes’ on one side and ‘Time To Burn’ on the other.  The take of ‘Evil Eyes’ that is presented in the vinyl set’s bonus 7” disc was originally released as the b-side to the title track from Holy Diver.  As an added note, it is completely different from the take presented in Dio’s 1984 album The Last in Line. ‘Time To Burn’ was the only studio track to be included in Dio’s 1986 live recording Intermission.

Both versions are presented in boxes featuring new artwork by Marc Sasso.  Sasso was the man behind the artwork on a number of Dio’s original albums.  More information on these upcoming box sets and other titles from Rhino Records is available online now at:

 

 

Websitehttp://www.rhino.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/RHINO

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/Rhino_Records

 

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

 

Eagle Rock Announces Release Date, Track Listing For New Dio Live Recording

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision/Eagle Records

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision/Eagle Records

Eagle Rock Entertainment has announced the details for its latest release.

Dio: Live in London Hammersmith Apollo 1993 will be available for the first time ever on Tuesday, May 13th. The archived concert will be made available to audiences on DVD, SD Blu-ray, 2CD and digital formats. Audiences can get a sneak peek at what can be expected from this long-awaited release online now via YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BEFcFGJBQzA&list=UUp0uxdUViQ2LTAqRePby68g.

The upcoming release captures the final performance of Dio’s European tour in support of the band’s album Strange Highways. Dio was joined by band mates Vinny Appice (drums), Jeff Pilson (bass), Tracy G (guitar), and Scott Warren (keyboards) for the tour. The show covers Dio’s body of work from his days with Black Sabbath, Rainbow, and even in his own band. Those hits include: ‘Holy Diver’, ‘Rainbow in the Dark’, ‘Strange Highways’, ‘Stand Up An Shout’, ‘Man On The Silver Mountain’, ‘Heaven And Hell’, and ‘We Rock’ among others. The performance is presented in DTS Surround Sound, Dolby Digital 5.1, and Dolby Digital. The full track listing for the recording is listed below.

TRACK LISTING:

1) Stand Up And Shout

2) Strange Highways

3) Don’t Talk To Strangers

4) Evilution

5) Pain

6) The Mob Rules

7) Children Of The Sea

8) Holy Diver

9) Heaven And Hell

10) Man On The Silver Mountain

11) Drum Solo

12) Heaven And Hell (reprise)

13) Jesus, Mary & The Holy Ghost

14) Hollywood Black

15) The Last In Line

16) Rainbow In The Dark

17) We Rock

18) Here’s To You

 

As an added bonus for audiences, the DVD and SD Blu-ray presentations offer a special Behind-The-Scenes feature titled ‘Hangin’ With The Band.’

More information on this and other releases from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt and http://twitter.com/EagleRockNews. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.