Dio Re-Issue A Hard Rocking Tribute To A Rock Legend

Courtesy:  Niji Entertainment

Courtesy: Niji Entertainment

Concept albums are typically reserved for the realm of rock music that is progressive rock.  Bands the likes of Pink Floyd, Dream Theater, and The Flower Kings have been largely linked to concept albums through rock’s history.  Apparently during his lifetime, nobody had sent this message to rock icon Ronnie James Dio; either that or he got the message and didn’t care.  Regardless of which argument holds more truth, the ultimate truth is that Dio proved that commonly held belief to be entirely untrue with the release of his groundbreaking album, Magica.  Now thanks to Niji Entertainment, Dio’s ever growing legion of fans can experience this work once more.

Over a decade has passed since Magica was originally released on Spitfire Records.  And three years have now passed since the world lost Ronnie James Dio.  In the time since RJD’s passing, a lot has changed in the music industry.  Thankfully, Niji Entertainment has re-issued this landmark album and reminded audiences that it is still possible for rock to be more than down-tuned guitars and indecipherable cookie monster growls.  It is a true treat for Dio fans of all ages.  The album’s new deluxe re-issue offers the original story of Magicka completely restored and sounding as good as ever.  The soaring string instrumentations that accompany the band add a beautiful counterpart to the band’s heaviness throughout the record.  And Dio’s vocals were in prime form on this record, as long-time fans will attest. 

The primary disc’s re-issue is outstanding to say the least.  But the real treat of Magica is the deluxe edition’s bonus disc.  The bonus disc is anchored by RJD himself reading ‘The Magica Story.’  Instead of the full on rock opera that is Magica audiences get Dio serving as storyteller.  The style with which he reads the story leaves listeners hanging on his every word.  It conjures thoughts of Trans Siberian Orchestra.  And being that this legendary singer is sadly no longer with us, hearing him personally reading the story is a wonderful memorial to Dio’s memory.  And since the story is printed out in the booklet included with the re-issue, they can even follow along as he reads the story verbatim.  There are no attempts at bad voices or any other over the top moves.  It is just RJD with a calm music bed as he reads the story.  The manner in which he recites the story’s final lines is wonderful.  He is about to start the next story but instantly cuts himself off, laughing as he says, “That’s another story.”  It makes the whole experience of listening to this record more personal for lack of better wording.  It is just part of what makes the re-issue’s second disc a true bonus.  For that matter, it makes one wonder what Magic 2 and 3 would have sounded like.  Luckily, listeners get a hint of that on the bonus track, ‘Electra’ that is also included on this re-issue.

The reading of ‘The Magica’ Story by Ronnie James Dio himself is a wonderful continuation from the musical story contained on the re-issue’s main disc.  The included bonus tracks and live bootlegs make the second disc even more of a bonus.  Considering that they are called “bootlegs”, the term bootleg should be taken very lightly.  This is a good thing in this case.  That is because the audio quality of the live “bootlegs” here far exceeds that of what one would think when one thinks of the term, “bootleg.”  The bonus studio tracks complete the package, musically speaking.  ‘Electra’ gives a pretty good hint at the later story that Dio references in this story.  It makes one wonder if he perhaps had some manuscripts tucked away somewhere that as is the case with certain late authors have yet to see the light of day.  It’s a nice heavy piece that continues the style established in Magica.  ‘Annica’ is equally intriguing in that it bears what some could argue to be Pink Floyd influences, in terms of the guitar parts.  That in itself is enough to make for even more discussion.  And it is that discussion that helps to make this record’s re-issue an even more completely enjoyable listen that will grow with each listen.  The record is available in stores and online now.

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The Very Beast Of Vol. 2 Another Hard Rocking Tribute To RJD

Courtesy: Niji Entertainment Group

Ronnie James Dio was not a tall man when he was with us.  That was the very first thing that most audiences noticed about him at any live performance.  But while he was not a tall man in terms of stature, he was a giant in the way of his vocal power and prowess.  Perhaps the only vocalist who deserves to be compared at his level of power and talent would be Judas Priest front man Rob Halford.  And as was the case with Halford and his band mates in Judas Priest, the music crafted by RJD and his metal brethren serves to this day as an example of everything right with rock and metal.  Now almost three years after Dio’s untimely passing from stomach cancer, the legendary vocalist is being honored once more with the brand new release of Dio:  The Very Beast of Vol. 2.

Dio:  The Very Beast of Vol. 2 is the follow-up to 2000’s The Very Beast of Dio.  While it isn’t the only career retrospective from this legendary artist, it was a relatively comprehensive compilation at the time of its release.  It covered a large portion of James’ solo career.  This new compilation covers the second half of RJD’s solo career.  As noted in the compilation’s liner notes, the songs on this compilation come from RJD’s time post-Warner Bros.  One of the bonuses included is the song, ‘Electra.’  Ronnie had been working on the song for the second half of the Magica album.  Sadly it would be one of Dio’s final recordings before his death in 2010.  The best way to describe ‘Electra’ is old school rock at its best.  There’s almost a slight Type O Negative tinge to it, musically speaking.  Dio’s vocals are just as powerful as ever on this track.

‘Electra’ is just one of the many songs that will have fans putting their horns high with pride.  ‘Metal Will Never Die’ is another high point to this compilation.  It’s a slower piece.  But the guitar work and RJD’s vocals are a powerhouse together. The production of the song makes his vocals hit even harder, too.  When he hits the song’s high notes, his screams will simply send chills up listeners’ spines.  If ever there was a metal anthem, this one is it.

Whether it’s these two songs, or any of the others included here, every one of the Dio Disciples around the globe will find something enjoyable about this record.  It’s available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct through his official website, http://www.ronniejamesdio.com and hit Facebook Fan page, http://www.facebook.com/OfficialRonnieJamesDio.   

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