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Dio: Killing The Dragon (remastered & expanded)

Having survived the 90s relatively unscathed and begun the 00s with the underrated Magica album, Dio resisted the temptation to continue the latter’s conceptual style by returning to type and living in the mediaeval times of Killing The Dragon. The 2002 release found Dio employing their third different guitarist in three albums, House Of Lords/Burning Rain (and future Whitesnake fret-smith) Doug Aldrich replacing Craig Goldy. The rest of the band, however, remained the same, with bassist Jimmy Bain and drummer Simon Wright still powering the rhythm section, while the curious case of keyboard player Scott Warren continually being credited as being part of the band and appearing in the promo-shots and booklet, while hardly playing a recorded note for Dio, continued - this time Bain handling the bulk of the synth work with Warren only actually contributing to “Before The Fall”.

As you may expect Aldrich proved a capable foil for the veteran singer, building a convincing riff laden attack, even if he only had a hand in the writing of two songs, with his predecessor Goldy contributing to three tracks, while Bain and, of course, Ronnie himself, split the majority of the workload between them. Highlights come thick and fast as Killing The Dragon turned the clock back to a style more akin to the first two albums from this band, even if the standard never quite reached those heady heights. That said, “Push” was a catchy and upbeat single that could have slipped onto The Last In Line, while the album’s title track has a chorus that’s remarkably difficult to shift from the mind. With the mid-paced stomp of “Rock & Roll” providing a Goliath like guitar attack and thoughtfully written “Throwaway Children” - replete with a surprisingly non-cheesy children’s choir - a convincing change of pace, there really is a lot to like here. Especially when you factor in that the likes of “Scream” and “Along Came A Spider” aren’t far behind in terms of quality.

If there’s one weakness in this retrospective campaign’s construction it’s that, presumably in an effort to not simply repeat the same songs over and over, as you work your way through Angry Machines, Magica, Killing The Dragon and Master Of The Moon so the live bonus material gets shorter and shorter. The first of the four finds a few new (for the time) tracks being run through alongside a classics set, while Magica has the luxury of having almost the entire concept album being represented live. Here however we only receive six cuts recorded during the 2002/03 KTD tour that run to less the 30 minutes to make up disc 2.

Only two of the six are from the album being promoted on the tour with both “Killing The Dragon” and “Rock & Roll” slotting neatly in against some stone cold classic fare consisting “Holy Diver”, “I Speed At Night”, “Stand Up And Shout” and the Dio led Sabbath classic “Heaven And Hell”. In truth, whether because Aldrich, to me anyway, doesn’t really sounding like a natural in this style of guitar playing in the live arena, or through a slightly rough around the edges recording, it has to be said that while these versions all fair pretty well, there’s not much here to really get all that excited about. That said, having some bonus material is certainly better than having none and there’s no doubt that Killing The Dragon still holds up strongly in its own right.

Track Listing
Disc 1
1. Killing the Dragon
2. Along Comes a Spider
3. Scream
4. Better in the Dark
5. Rock & Roll
6. Push
7. Guilty
8. Throw Away the Children
9. Before the Fall
10. Cold Feet

Disc 2 - Recorded Live on Killing the Dragon tour 2002-2003
1. Holy Diver
2. Heaven and Hell
3. Rock and Roll
4. I Speed at Night
5. Killing the Dragon
6. Stand Up And Shout

Added: April 15th 2020
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Ronnie James Dio online
Hits: 1303
Language: english

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