Originally released in 2000, Ronnie James Dio's concept album Magica has long remained a favorite amongst his loyal fans, but sadly it's been out of print on CD for many years...until now that is. Thanks to this deluxe edition from Niji Entertainment Group, Magica is once again available in all its majestic glory, as this 2CD set contains the original album plus a bonus disc containing Dio's narrative of 'The Magica Story', bonus tracks, and a few official live bootleg cuts. Toss in a great booklet packed with info about the fantasy based storyline behind Magica, full lyrics, an essay by Mick Wall, and photos, and you have a wonderful package of an album that really needs to be discovered by the casual fan who perhaps didn't fully follow Dio after the 1980's.
Not previously someone to dive into concept album territory, Ronnie put a lot of effort into this story of wizards and warriors, and along with a returning Craig Goldy (guitar, keyboards), Jimmy Bain (bass), and Simon Wright (drums), the Dio band really cranked out a compelling album here full of all the elements that had made them a force on the heavy metal scene for over two decades. Though it's meant to be taken as a whole, there are of course some standout tracks on Magica, such as the catchy "Fever Dreams", the Black Sabbath styled heaviness of "Turn to Stone", and the furious "Lord of the Last Day". "Feed My Head" is a crushing slice of fantasy laced futuristic metal, and "Challis" is just classic Dio, with Ronnie's powerful vocals soaring over some heavy Goldy riffs and pounding rhythms from Bain & Wright. "Losing My Insanity" mixes Celtic themes with symphonic progressive metal, a real departure for the band, and the textured, melodic "Otherworld" also sees the band going into directions previously uncharted, and it works.
Over on CD2, things kick off with "The Magica Story", narrated by Ronnie himself, as he reads aloud the complex fantasy/science fiction storyline behind the album. As great as it is to hear Ronnie's voice here, it's also just as much a sad event, as for many of us, we still really haven't recovered from his passing a few years ago. But, it helps to pay close attention to his reading as it certainly helps to explain the story a little better. The Japanese only bonus track "Annica" is included here, a sizzling melodic metal piece complete with Bain's thick bass grooves and plenty of scorching, emotional guitar from Goldy. As an instrumental track, it would have worked great within the confines of the regular album. "Electra" was a song planned for the Magica 2 & 3 albums that never happened due to Ronnie's death, and it's another good one, with Ronnie still in fine vocal form and a stellar performance from the band. Various live versions of a few tunes are included here as well, and as you can imagine sound even heavier in these incarnations, with "Feed My Head" and "Lord of the Last Day" really kicking some serious ass.
I almost have to call Magica the 'underrated' gem in the Dio discography, as anyone but the loyal fan probably cites releases like Holy Diver, Last in Line, and Sacred Heart as the only mandatory Dio out there. In reality, the band had quite a few other really strong albums under their belt, Magica being one of the best of the later period releases. If you hadn't discovered it 13 years ago, or perhaps would like to 'freshen up' your CD copy, now's the time to do so with this fabulous deluxe edition.
02. Magica Theme
03. Lord Of The Last Day
04. Fever Dreams
05. Turn To Stone
06. Feed My Head
09. As Long As It's Not About Love
10. Losing My Insanity
12. Magica- Reprise
13. Lord Of The Last Day - Reprise
01. The Magica Story (narrated by Ronnie James Dio)
02. Annica (Japanese-only bonus track)
03. Electra (recorded for "Magica 2" & "3")
04. Feed My Head (official live bootleg)
05. Fever Dreams (official live bootleg)
06. Turn To Stone (official live bootleg)
07. Lord Of The Last Day (official live bootleg)
08. As Long As It's Not About Love (official live bootleg)
09. Losing My Insanity (official live bootleg)