DIO - Master of the Moon (2004) May 22, 2010 13:23:43 GMT -5
Post by Erik Rupp on May 22, 2010 13:23:43 GMT -5
At the time of it's release very few people expected Master of the Moon to be the final DIO album. Sadly, despite his plans to the contrary, the passing of Ronnie James Dio put an end to DIO, the band. As a result, this was the final studio album from DIO.
So was it a worthy, "Final," album?
Yes and no.
It does have several good to great tracks, but there are also a couple of songs on there that could be described as, "Just OK," making Master of the Moon something of a mixed bag.
It certainly starts out on the right foot. "One More for the Road," is an uptempo track that combines the early Vivian Campbell era style with the more Ritchie Blackmore inspired Craig Goldy era in style. This is a great track that embodies all of the good elements of DIO - great riffs, great musical performances, and some of the strongest vocal melodies in the world of Heavy Metal.
From there the album takes a dramatic turn. "Master of the Moon," is slow - almost plodding - and it lacks the energy of it's predecessor. What it does have, though, is a great pre-chorus with a really good vocal melody. Still, the song just doesn't fit well in the #2 slot on the album. It might have fit in better four or five songs in, but at this point the album hasn't yet gotten it's feet. It's a fairly good song with it's strong sense of melody, but put in the wrong place in the tracklisting.
Even though, "The End of the World," doesn't have much faster a tempo than it's predecessor it has much more energy. This would have been a better choice to follow the high octane opening track. "The End of the World," has some good riffing, a throbbing, pulsating bass line, and the usual vocal melody magic from Ronnie. This is a very, very good song, and sounds like it could have fit right in on DIO's Lock Up the Wolves album.
Taking things up to the next level, "Shivers," is a truly great song. The tempo is again just slightly faster than it's predecessor, letting the album build, and the riffs are stronger, catchier, and more driving than on the previous song. But as great as the music is on this one, it's Ronnie James Dio himself who is the star of the song. His vocals are fantastic, and his lyrics are cleverly playful. Singing about typical things that tend to frighten people on a basic level, Ronnie states that they don't bother him at all - but some unnamed person does. This turns the song on it's ear and makes the whole theme of the song work. "Shivers," holds up well against any song in the DIO catalog, and is a career highlight.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of, "The Man Who Would be King." Again a plodding tempo and lack of energy brings down the song despite it's solid sense of melody. This one might have been better suited to a mellower, more balladic style than the slow but heavy number it's presented as. Again, it's not a bad song, but compared to DIO's entire catalog it is fairly mediocre.
Now, "The Eyes," is the way to do a slow rocker. Here DIO gets it right. The sparse, rapid fire riff (same note repeated as eighth notes) in the verse is moody, and Ronnie's melodic vocals work very well. This track achieves what DIO sets out to accomplish in a moody, atmospheric song. Good stuff.
As is, "Living the Lie." Actually, "Living the Lie," is great stuff - an upper mid-tempo track that could easily fit in on The Last In Line. The rhythm guitar parts in the song are very reminiscent of the Vivian Campbell parts from that album, and Dio's vocal melodies are, again, very strong. The chorus hook is catchy, but not in a poppy kind of way, and the lyrics are exceptionally strong. This song is bursting with energy and is one of the highlights of the album.
While, "I Am," is a slower mid-tempo song it does that thing much better than, "Master of the Moon, " or, "The Man Who Would be King." This one sounds more like a hybrid of the styles found on The Last in Line and Sacred Heart with hints here and there of the Dream Evil album as well. It is a strong album track, and holds up well even against the best songs on the album (while not quite matching them).
The tempo goes back up a bit (although just a bit) again on, "Death By Love," another song with some very strong vocal melodies written and sung with power by Ronnie. This is another very good song, even if not quite hitting the greatness of the best songs on Master of the Moon. "Death By Love," has a vibrancy and a vitality that wouldn't be expected of a 62 year old singer leading a band of players in their mid to late 40's.
You'd be forgiven for thinking for just a couple seconds at the beginning of, "In Dreams," that this was a song from an early King's X album. There are some tones and chords there that would fit in nicely on Out of the Silent Planet or Gretchen Goes to Nebraska. The rest of the song, though, is clearly DIO. DIO with a slight King's X flavor, but DIO nonetheless. It's slower, but not plodding, fortunately. This is another strong album cut that holds up well on the album even if it isn't one of the top three or four songs overall.
Taken as a whole Master of the Moon is a more than worthy addition to the DIO album catalog. There are a few great songs present, and most of the rest range from good to very good - with just those two exceptions ("Master of the Moon," and, "The Man Who Would be King"), that could have been more effective with different presentations.
The unfortunate thing is that this album clearly showed that DIO had a lot more to offer as a band, and Ronnie James Dio was still capable of giving fantastic vocal performances in the studio. There should have been more DIO albums to come, and Ronnie himself made it clear in the last year of his life that he had plans to do more DIO albums (and another Heaven and Hell album). Sadly, those plans will never come to fruition.
But Master of the Moon was a good way to end the studio recording career of the band named after it's iconic lead singer. Yes, it is a worthy final album.