Jorn - Dio (2010) Aug 29, 2010 13:08:51 GMT -5
Post by Erik Rupp on Aug 29, 2010 13:08:51 GMT -5
Jorn Lande is a well known figure in the European Heavy Metal scene. From his work with Ark and Masterplan to his own band, Jorn, he has become a fairly big name in Europe.
Last year he began work on a tribute album to his musical hero, Ronnie James Dio. It began with an original song he wrote to honor the legendary vocalist called, simply, "Song for Ronnie James." Shortly after writing that song news came out that Ronnie James Dio had been diagnosed with stomach cancer. The song, and the project, took on a new meaning for Lande.
While the album wasn't released before Ronnie's untimely death, Lande felt that it should be released on time as originally scheduled. Dio, sadly, would never get to hear it as Lande had hoped he would.
Now as a tribute to a fallen musical hero, Dio (the album) takes on a different feel than it would have otherwise. It's a little more somber or melancholy - but at the same time it is a celebration of a great man and his music.
The album opens with the previously mentioned original, "Song for Ronnie James." Starting softly, with a mellow intro (that, maybe, goes on a tad too long) before going into a slow, heavy part that is also heavy on melody. Lande's lyrics quote a lot of Ronnie's song titles and lyrics, and his vocal is heartfelt and emotional. Stylistically, this one straddles the line between Dio-Era Sabbath and DIO (the band) with a healthy dose of Jorn's own style. It's a good song, pushing the boundaries of greatness, but it doesn't quite get there. Still, the sentiment is right and the song is really good, so it makes for an appropriate way to start the album.
From there the album focuses on the music of Ronnie James Dio as interpreted by Jorn (the band and the man).
"Invisible," is given a very reverential treatment, albeit a big bigger and more bombastic. This is a very good version of the song - darned near as good as the original. So is, "Shame on the Night," the second song on the album from DIO's classic Holy Diver set. Jorn really nails the feel and vibe of the original on this one. Again, this is a bit bigger and bolder, but not by a lot.
The first surprise on the album is, "Push," which originally came from DIO's great 2002 album, Killing the Dragon. Some DIO fans complained that, "Push," wasn't heavy enough and had some Pop melodies. Well, those fans should be happier with this version as it retains much of the same feel as the original with a slightly heavier presentation. Lande's voice is different from Ronnie's, but he sounds quite good singing this material. "Push," is a great choice for the album as both the original and this version are great.
Jorn's version of, "Stand up and Shout," has a little different feel than DIO's version (mainly due to the drumming, but the rhythm guitar part just sounds ever so slightly off compared to the original), but it is still very close to the original and has that same burst of energy that the DIO version had. More good stuff. (And it should be noted that guitarists Tor Erik Myhre, Jgor Gianola, and Tore Moren do their best with the solos to emulate the originals, and that is noticeably on display on this track.)
Another Holy Diver track follows. "Don't Talk to Strangers," is another strong cover that is very reverential to the original while having just a slightly different feel (again in part due to drummer Willy Bendiksen, who in copying Vinnie Appice's part ends up with his own groove that fits in well with the original).
The next surprise track is a BIG surprise - "Lord of the Last Day," from the final DIO album, Master of the Moon. It's a slow, doomy, Sabbath-y song. In many ways this song was the precursor to what Sabbath, errr... I mean, Heaven and Hell did on The Devil You Know. Jorn's version is (again) a little heavier than the original, but other than that there isn't much difference (well, other than the differences in the voices of Jorn and Ronnie). This is another pleasant surprise, and it fits in very well on the album.
Dream Evil is one of DIO's stronger albums, and it is represented by a pair of songs. First it's, "Night People," which is another song given the bigger and bolder treatment by Jorn without going overboard. This is a great song, and it sounds great here.
Before the second helping of Dream Evil Jorn looks for the, "Sacred Heart." What's really odd is that like the production on Sacred Heart (the DIO album) this one is a little lacking in low end (not enough bass in the mix, and an EQ job that is a little to heavy on the treble). The production on this one is eerily reminiscent of the Sacred Heart production and mix, which isn't really a good thing. Fortunately, the band plays this one with conviction keeping this one up at the level of the rest of the album (and since it's a great song to begin with a good performance like this couldn't have gone wrong).
Jorn starts Dreaming Evil again with, "Sunset Superman," a song that often found it's way back into the DIO setlist - and with good reason. It's a great uptempo song. And it's a great song, here, too.
Surprises aplenty abound on the next track, mainly because it's a medley of some of Black Sabbath's lesser known Dio era songs. The official title of the track is, "Lonely is the Word - Letters From Earth," as it goes back and forth between the two songs, but also included in this slower song are bits of, "Children of the Sea," and, "Sign of the Southern Cross." In a lot of ways this is the coolest track on the album. First, this is the one that shows Jorn's own style the most, and second just because it combines these songs in a very clever, and very cool arrangement. Ronnie would have loved this (especially considering how he liked to do this kind of thing live).
"Kill the King." If you're familiar with the original, there isn't much more to be said other than this is a faithful version of the song with one exception - the intro is completely cut off and the band plows into the vocal section after a brief sound effect intro. Fast, furious, and tastefully done - this is yet another winner.
A live version of one of DIO's best (but not best known) songs closes out the album - "Straight Through the Heart" - bringing the Holy Diver song count to five. The audio production here is passable, but not up to the same level as the rest of the album, but the band's spirited performance makes up for that to a certain degree. It's a solid way to end the album.
As far as the audio production of the album as a whole, Tommy Hansen handled it and did a great job. It sounds like a slightly bigger, beefier, and heavier version of what DIO got on Holy Diver, which suits the project extremely well.
Dio (the album) is a great tribute to a legendary vocalist (and, as noted before, a great man - his charity work is legendary, but the personal aid he gave to individuals was also as generous). Ronnie deserves the tribute, and Jorn provides one. Granted, the songs here don't have as much of the Jorn (the band) stamp on them as it could, but the results are still impressive.