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Dio Master of the Moon

By Jeff Kerby, Contributor
Wednesday, September 8, 2004 @ 10:43 AM


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In a life full of tyrannical dictators, terrorists and pissy convenience store clerks, it’s at least nice to know that every year or two, you can still count on something---Dio. Regardless of his height, it’s doubtless that the diminutive magic man has remained a metallic superhero of epic proportions unlike certain other champions of the hard rock community. As a matter of fact, I betcha Ronnie James could probably drop Danzig in a flash just like that fat guy in Arizona did too. Who cares if Dio is about 70? Face it, nutritional supplements are simply no match for the almighty power of the metal sign! All the subjects in the kingdom need to know that those who step to the mighty force of the former lead singer of Elf, Sabbath and Rainbow are destined to either be quickly turned into a frog or sadly forced to exist for weeks as a festering boil on the surface of Lars Ulrich’s hairy, self-important ass. That probably goes for reviewers too, but in this case—there ain’t nothin’ to worry about—Master of the Moon is satisfyingly reminiscent of, say, Holy Diver or The Last in Line.

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The previous album, Killing the Dragon was super-respectable, yet it still didn’t lend itself to as many memorable moments as Dio’s latest effort. The first track, “One More For The Road” has the type of chorus and initial power surge that could very well result in this offering being the number that kicks off the upcoming tour dates. Basically, the introductory song has everything a traditional Dio fan could ever hope for, and adding Jeff Pilson on bass--even if it is only for studio purposes--is a welcome touch. Everyone knows that having a slamming band is always a trademark of Ronnie James, and with Craig Goldy on guitar, Simon Wright on drums and Scott Warren on keyboards, the lineup for this release is predictably stellar. It doesn’t even matter if songs with this basic theme have been done a million different times in a million different ways before--when it’s done right, rock and roll can always stand another rave up about freedom and the road.

The second selection is the title track “Master of the Moon” and it’s a trademark Dungeons and Dragons tune. Yep, this is where Ronnie James starts throwing around the medieval imagery as the pot scent wafts and the bong water gurgles in your mother’s basement until you could almost swear you were taking hits right along side of your good buddy Gollum. “Don’t hog the ganja precioussss, preciousssss. Give it to me….precioussss. I’m getting high as a muhfucker, preciousss.” Fortunately, the song plods along at just such a tempo that the smoker doesn’t get overwhelmed or start to feel paranoid. Scott Warren’s keyboards are also prominent in this song adding to the atmospherics and appropriately vivid chorus.

“Turn around and when you face the sun, we can make you be like everyone you know. Hey you! Master of the Moon.”

“The End of The World” may be as close as this record gets to filler. There are some nice guitar parts here, but the pace of the tune is sort of like a handjob without the requisite ejaculation at the end. You know, it’s like you’re getting all hot and heavy at the nursing home with some hot ass elderly woman and then the orderly walks in and makes you leave with boner in hand screaming about the fact that she’s “somebody’s grandma, dammit.” That being said, it isn’t a song so quality deprived that the listener is going to be violently screaming for the fast forward button at the sound of the first drumbeat. “Shivers” speeds the proceedings up dramatically with all of its talk of “rats and bats and spiders.” Hell, there are times when it almost sounds like RJD is describing my house. In any case, it’s definitely a memorable song that requires numerous plays.

“The Man Who Would Be King” is a political anthem disparaging fuehrer George W. Bush in all its metaphorical glory. Yep. It’s nice. Again, the keyboards do add a significantly cool dimension to Ronnie’s take on the American political climate which he delivers with the appropriate mixture of disdain and conviction. Song number six--”The Eyes”--is already garnering attention as some fan’s favorite track mostly because of some creative guitar work and an overall epic sound. The subsequent “Living A Lie” proves that RJD and company can still pull off a speeding rocker without having the result seem either forced or odd. This song’s fast paced proficiency shouldn’t come as any surprise to long time metal fans who realize that Dio has never been about power ballads or songs directed at the big haired chicks in the house. As long as the Dio name is on the cover of the disc, the record buyer knows that the selections inside are going to rock…if there is a sword thrown in or a lyric about a sun or the moon, then that’s just part of the package. The one weakness comes on the next tune, the plodding “I Am,” which concerns the chorus that consists of “I am, I am the wind. I am, I am sin.” Ok, if that’s gonna mean something to me, it is going to have to come after a few more tokes of the joint because that lyric just isn’t exemplary of the type of writing one expects from the highly literate RJD.

The disc concludes with “Death by Love” and “In Dreams.” Both of these selections are interesting and conclude this offering with a thunderous metal sign raised high in the air. From start to finish, Master of the Moon proves itself far superior to the average hard rock offerings submitted by most groups who are thought to have peaked a couple of decades ago. Instead of showing any type of musical degeneration, Master of the Moon exemplifies the fact that it isn’t the quality of the work that has changed, it’s the shift in public tastes that made a talent like Dio seem somehow culturally or musically passé. I’ve said it before, but for some reason 2004 has given birth to some of the best metal created by certain bands in more than fifteen years. Tesla, Motorhead and the Scorpions have all produced records that would make metal bands of any era proud. Sure, there have been some offerings like W.A.S.P.’s latest that have fallen far short of even decent, but this new one by Dio truly hearkens back to the glory days. Releasing a record this quality laden even gives the listener hope that with any luck we may be able to continue to count on Dio’s consistency far into the next decade. After all, they don’t make metallic superheroes like this anymore.

“Muther, tell your children not to walk… No, Dio, No! Not the metal sign! I’ve already been hit once this summer. Ouch! Stop! That burns. C’mon, it’s me, Glenn, dammit!”

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