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Dio: Master Of The Moon (remastered & expanded)

Ever a band of revolving doors, for the Master Of The Moon album Ronnie James Dio welcomed guitarist Craig Goldy back into the fold alongside returning bassist Jeff Pilson, with the line-up for the band’s final album being rounded out by ex-AC/DC drummer Simon Wright and keyboard player Scott Warren. Having replaced his own replacement in the band - Doug Aldrich - Goldy set about co-writing every song on the album with his band master, although Wright also had a hand in “Living The Lie” and “Death By Love”, with the latter also finding bassist Chuck Garric helping out. Hence you could have been forgiven for thinking that MotM would find Dio returning to the sound of Magica or the more classic attack of Killing The Dragon (which Goldy had helped shape some of before leaving) that looked to the likes of Holy Diver and The Last In Line for inspiration. However, in reality this album seemed more keen to explore the doom sound that the Dio fronted incarnation of Black Sabbath had created so successfully.

Not maybe as brutal as either of the band’s mid 90s offerings - Strange Highways or Angry Machines - Master… was still an uncompromising beast and one comprising mainly slower tracks that looked to hit hard through their sheer weight of force. It goes without saying that Ronnie James Dio was still in incomparable voice as he added some vocal colour to the grind of “I Am”, although maybe even he couldn’t quite stir the trudge of “The Man Who Would Be King” into anything more than a deep slumber - although it is notable for being an unusually barbed slice of politics from a man more associated with dungeon and dragon lyrics. The likes of “Death By Love” and “The End Of The World” redress the balance somewhat but it’s “The Eyes” that stands tall and proud as the most convincing moment on an album that really takes some time to get to know. Something not necessarily aided by the unusual and dissatisfying guitar effects on “Shivers”.

The expanded disc for this final of the four releases in this reissue campaign comes with just four live tracks recorded on the Master Of The Moon tour of 2004/05 by when Rudy Sarzo (Ozzy/Quiet Riot) had replaced the ever busy Pilson on bass. An extended version of the Black Sabbath cut “Heaven And Hell” leads the way in some style, while the earlier Dio classics of “Rainbow In The Dark” and “Rock n’ Roll Children” (two of my personal favourites) remain as potent as ever. Although it might be the originally Japanese only studio bonus track “Prisoner Of Paradise” that proves to be the most ‘must have’ track on this disc.

Taking fans by surprise and keen to both put the disappointment of their Dehumanizer reunion album behind them and to reclaim their own legacy, Ronnie James Dio would then place his own band on hiatus to rejoin with Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Vinny Appice in what was essentially Black Sabbath, even though for contactual reasons they had to go under the name Heaven And Hell. The resultant album, Better The Devil You Know, was an astoundingly good comeback and as we all now know proved a fitting swan song for Ronnie James Dio, who would tragically pass away in 2010. However, for many the singer’s crowning achievements actually came from his solo career and while Master Of The Moon may not be the strongest of that band’s offerings, it still closed their account in strong fashion.

Track Listing
Disc 1
1. One More for the Road
2. Master of the Moon
3. The End of the World
4. Shivers
5. The Man Who Would Be King
6. The Eyes
7. Living the Lie
8. I Am
9. Death by Love
10. In Dreams

Disc 2 - Mostly Recorded Live on the Master of the Moon Tour 2004-2005
1. Heaven and Hell (live)
2. Rainbow in the Dark (live)
3. Rock and Roll Children (live)
4. The Eyes (live)
5. Prisoner of Paradise (studio track)

Added: April 15th 2020
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Ronnie James Dio online
Hits: 1726
Language: english

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