Last month marked the four year anniversary of Ronnie James Dio's tragic death from stomach cancer. The singer's status as one of heavy metal's truly legendary voices was cemented early as Dio served time fronting such formative groups as Elf, Rainbow and Black Sabbath before embarking upon a successful solo career of his own throughout the eighties and nineties.
This is Your Life offers up loving and just musical tributes from an impressively varied array of artists, all of whom shared influence and inspiration from the man whose muscular, gripping vocals defined metal musical styles across generational lines. This balance of youth and experience is presented nicely here on the album itself, as classic metal and rock musicians sit alongside the genre's modern generation to provide a united front of magical Dio tribute.
Notable examples of the former include textured, delicate take on Rainbow's "Temple of the King" from German metal kings Scorpions-featuring a soul-stirring vocal performance from frontman Klaus Meine-while Metallica's "Ronnie Rising Medley" serves as a stone cold album highlight, the thrash metal masters tackling an expertly paced and arranged assault of tracks from Rainbow's Rising and Long Live Rock 'n Roll. Elsewhere, Lizzy Hale and Halestorm prove their cover song chops once again with an energetic and passionate take on Dio's "Straight Through the Heart," and Slipknot's Corey Taylor joins forces with Steel Panther guitarist Satchel and his Stone Sour bandmate Roy Mayorga on the classic "Rainbow in the Dark," a traditional cover anchored by Satchel's successful mimicking of Jens Johansson's iconic keyboard melody.
A bevy of Dio alumni band together with former Sabbath and Deep Purple vocalist Glenn Hughes for a cover of "Catch the Rainbow," as guitarist Craig Goldy, bassist Rudy Sarzo and drummer Simon Wright present a rock solid musical foil to Hughes' soulful, saucy blues vocal style. Two previously released Dio covers also rear their dragon heads here, as Killswitch Engage sets their "Holy Diver" against Metal Queen Doro Pesch and her powerful, atmospheric rendition of "Egypt (The Chains Are On)."
The album closes out in a fitting, if bittersweet fashion, as Dio himself sings for us once again on the album's title track, a simple-yet-effective piano and string arranged number from the singer 1996 album, Angry Machines. Hearing the man's voice again is another simple reminder of how important Ronnie James Dio was to the heavy metal community, and how that community is still shocked and saddened by the loss of their hero. The fact that such an interestingly unique collection of artists came together on This is Your Life to pay their musical respects to this man-with 100% of the proceeds going to Ronnie James Dio's Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund-is a testament to how loved Mr. Dio was by his fans and peers.
This album does his memory proud.
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