Dio has written some of metal’s greatest songs, and this box set brings them all home.
Ronnie James Dio leaves behind a heavy metal legacy. Having passed away from stomach cancer in 2010, his voice, and his aura are sadly missed. Starting his career in the early ‘70s with bands like Elf, Rainbow, and others, it wasn’t until he replaced Ozzy Osbourne as the front man for Black Sabbath that Dio reached the masses. Filling the shoes of someone like Ozzy was not an easy task, as both singers enjoy totally different styles.
Yet the Black Sabbath crowd welcomed the leather-lunged vocalist into their world. In the 2000s, when Black Sabbath first reunited without Osborne, they dubbed themselves Heaven and Hell after the title of the Dio-fronted Sabbath record.
Dio’s solo career, starting with 1989’s Holy Diver, was embraced by the masses, with the debut going platinum. His follow-up album, The Last in Line, was embraced by MTV (who, at the time, enjoyed a large heavy metal rotation and audience), continuing his platinum status. Touring with opening acts like Twisted Sister brought Dio to another audience, and his name would go down in the annals of heavy metal history. His unmistakable, dark, heavy sound was soon his signature, and went over very well with metal fans. Dio was soon dubbed the Godfather of Heavy Metal.
Now, Rhino Records brings us Dio: A Decade of Dio 1983–1993, a six-disc collection of his earliest solo efforts. Available on CD or vinyl, the set includes updated artwork done by the original artist. Represented here are the aforementioned freshman and sophomore albums, Holy Diver and The Last in Line, as well as 1985’s Secret Heart, which contains the single “Hungry for Heaven.” Dream Evil, his 1987 effort, spawned the MTV hit “I Could Have Been a Dreamer.” 1990 brought Dio’s fifth solo release, Lock up the Wolves, and in 1994 we got Strange Highways, which featured a new artwork style for the album cover.
Across seven albums with Black Sabbath, three with Heaven and Hell, and 11 solo releases, Dio has written some of metal’s greatest songs, and this box set brings them all home. From Holy Diver to Strange Highways, this is a complete set. It’s a great primer for new fans, and a definite need of any true Dio fan. B+ | Marc Farr