Anyone who has ever seen Dio's Live From The Spectrum video knows this guy can sing like he's breathing through leather lungs. He's the last of the belters; fist in the air, crosses swinging from his neck, giant dragons puking smoke and fire...all that really "metal" stuff. But through all the imagery, there is an astounding voice singing great songs. "Rainbow in the Dark", "King of Rock & Roll", "I Speed at Night"; choice stuff for the metalheads cruising the streets after midnight. Then he vanished.
Following guitarist Vivian Campbell's departure, Dio (the band) seemed to lose direction. This is interesting, since Campbell wrote so little of Dio's music. After a string of players, Dio found L.A. vet Tracy Grijalva; Tracy G. to the world. Now, Tracy G plays like a mother, and he spits out riffs the way Dio's old dragon foe spit fire. So, boom - Dio's back on track and releases two exceptional albums - "Strange Highways" and "Angry Machines". No success. So the gameplan changes from making great albums to showing the world a great band.
"Dio's Inferno" is the document of their effort, though it is a bit lopsided. No doubt this is a stellar collection of songs, but to include nothing from "Sacred Heart", "Dream Evil" or "Lock Up The Wolves", and only "Jesus, Mary & Holy Ghost" from "Strange Highways" is odd. Even more odd is the cover of Deep Purple's "Mistreated", which he had no part in writing.
I'll hit the low spots first, then close with praise. The drum solo turned in by Vinny Appice is lousy: bad timing, very off-the-cuff sounding, and overall wasted space. Why this wasn't at least edited down is beyond me. Also bad is the jumbled version of "Holy Diver". There's no flow in it, due partly to a few guitar chords that weren't in the original, and partly to the spastic playing of Appice, who previously was as solid a timekeeper as you'd find in any rock act. Those are my only performance complaints on the set.
Sonically, this is a huge sounding disc. The clarity is really astonishing, especially the vocals and snare drum. Bassist Larry Dennison's tone is so low you miss bass parts on a car stereo, but at home watch out for falling pictures! A deadly reading of "Heaven and Hell", "The Last in Line", "Straight Through the Heart" and "The Mob Rules" are highlights, but the closer "We Rock" is shattering. The vocals and guitar will leave you gasping for air.
Even if you've passed on every Dio disc since "The Last In Line", you should buy this. There's no way any metal fan won't go ballistic over "Inferno".