The Very Beast of Dio
Volume 2

Dio

Ronnie James Dio, the diminutive gentleman of heavy metal with the huge voice, was as much known as the lead singer of Rainbow, Black Sabbath and Heaven and Hell as he was fronting his own band Dio. A second volume of Dio's greatest tunes, The Beast of Dio, Volume 2, is a 17-song collection, picking up where the first volume left, 1996 onward.

On "Killing The Dragon," we're pretty much mining familiar territory of blistering fast guitars and sword-and-castle imagery often found in Dio's lyric. The plodding "The Eyes," from the final Dio studio album, Master Of The Moon, features a fantastic Dio vocal and fuzzy guitar work from Craig Goldy. "Along Came A Spider" is blistering fast, every bit commercial heavy metal as anything you're ever likely to hear. Drummer Vinny Appice snaps, rolls and smacks his way through the blistering "Better in the Dark," while the singer, uncharacteristic in his vocal approach, gets funky on "Black."

There's a bunch of stuff from RJD's beloved Magica trilogy, taken from the first album with one song from the uncompleted second album. This was a very important concept project to Dio, according to Eddie Trunk's liner notes included on the set. Songs like "Feed My Head," with its perfect organ and Ronnie's sweet vocal bridge beautifully captures the expanse of Dio's vocal capabilities, just when you thought you had heard all the great moments from the guy.

There's a great live "Hunter Of The Heart" with a low bass growl and a truly mean Dio vocal. The band is tight! Amongst the pair of bonus tracks ending the collection is "Metal Will Never Die," one of the very last songs Mr. Dio recorded, with its slightly wince-inducing lyric, but still a great vocal. If you're a Dio fan who never got past Holy Diver and The Last In Line, you really need to give this one a spin. The foundation was always heavy, but there were moments when Dio reached beyond the castles and rainbows to embrace other styles of music. There's a little taste of that on The Beast of Dio, Volume 2.

~ Ralph Greco, Jr.

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