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Dio: Master of the Moon

I may be in the minority here, as initial reactions to this album have been mixed at best. But after some post-millennium experimentation, it seems as if Ronnie James Dio has finally at least made a partial return to his classic sound on Master of the Moon. No more convoluted concept albums (2000's Magica) and no more half-decent discs (2002's Killing the Dragon).

Master of the Moon is a solid yet extremely dark album from front to back. Credit, at least in part, guitarist Craig Goldy, who has once again joined the Dio fold, which also now includes Rudy Sarzo on bass, Simon Wright on drums and Scott Warren on keyboards. As longtime collaborators, Goldy and the singer play off of (and complement) each other well, and the result is an album of 10 songs that sound distinctly Dio. (To be fair, Goldy did write a few songs on Killing the Dragon but was ably replaced by Doug Aldrich during the recording sessions, and ex-Dokken bassist Jeff Pilson laid down tracks for Master of the Moon before Sarzo signed on.)

Ronnie James still sounds lethal, even if his leather lungs aren't quite as spiffy as they used to be. Master of the Moon is a dynamic showcase for Dio, circa 2004 via 1987, as it's packed with AC/DC riffs ("The End of the World"), hubris ("I Am"), mysticism (the title track) and evil ("One More For the Road"). In two atypical moves, Dio even touches on romance — albeit the dark side of romance — on "Death by Love," and he makes a political statement on "The Man Who Would Be King," comparing England's King Richard I to U.S. President George W. Bush. "Like the crusaders in the Middle Ages, Bush tries to force his philosophy on other peoples," Dio was quoted as saying on the web site of his new label, SPV. "I don't see the song as a political challenge, but as a request for the American government to rethink their policy on Iraq." After more than 30 years in the biz, it's refreshing that Ronnie James Dio believes heavy metal still matters, and that music has the potential to make a difference.

Track Listing:
1) One More For the Road (3:17)
2) Master of the Moon (4:19)
3) The End of the World (4:39)
4) Shivers (4:15)
5) The Man Who Would Be King (4:58)
6) The Eyes (6:27)
7) Living the Lie (4:25)
8) I Am (5:00)
9) Death By Love (4:21)
10) In Dreams (4:26)
Total Time: 46:11

Added: October 4th 2004
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Related Link: Official Dio Web Site
Hits: 3897
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Dio: Master of the Moon
Posted by Steve Pettengill, SoT Staff Writer on 2004-10-05 12:34:55
My Score:

Nothing seems to polarize longtime Dio fans like a new CD from the elfin one. Albums like Holy Diver and The Last in Line are rightly considered to be heavy metal classics while so many of his more recent efforts suffer by comparison. After the risible Majica, out of nowhere came Dio's best album since the glory days with Killing the Dragon; I am happy to report that Master of the Moon is another quality latter day effort…and that voice is still intact after all these years.

From the self assured "One More from the Road" through the sublime "In Dreams", Ronnie James Dio and his band virtually turn the clock back twenty years. Some have criticized guitarist Craig Goldy because of the relative simplicity of his playing. I think that's an unfair condemnation. His style is completely different from Vivian Campbell and as he largely plays chunky riffs instead of copious lead notes, he reminds me a little of Tony Iommi. In fact, many of these songs sound retrofitted to compete with Mob Rules or Heaven and Hell. Among the highlights are "Shivers", "Living the Lie", "In Dreams" and the title track. I particularly enjoy keyboardist Scott Warren's tasteful orchestrations and kudos to Mr. Dio for allowing the keys to be so far up in the mix.

Shortcomings? Not many. The only song that doesn't completely convince me is "The Eye"; at six minutes, the relative simplicity of the song doesn't warrant the length of the composition. The annoying and clunky vocoder effect used throughout the song doesn't help either. One extra up-tempo rocker would have made for a more rounded listening experience, but I didn't feel as bothered by this as I did with the lugubrious Majica.

On the whole, Master of the Moon is a fine album and should not be overlooked by Dio fans. The old guy still has it. Recommended.

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