It's hard to believe that Ronnie James Dio is still going strong after all these years and after sack loads of criticism from just about everyone. Let's not pretend that that criticism isn't justified. Ronnie James has produced a couple of awful records: "Angry Machines" and "Strange Highways" to name but two. Just what he was doing on those only he knows but it certainly gained him few new fans in the early 90's. Just more ammo for the detractors.
Subsequent live and compilation albums retained DIO's somewhat slipping hold in the crowded Hard Rock/Metal-arena but it was 2000's blistering return to form with "Magica" that we where once again treated to classic DIO and the ship was back on course.
Therefore I am pleased to report that "Killing The Dragon" has the good ship DIO plotting a strong and confident course. Sure he is never gonna record another "Holy Diver" or "Last In Line" but for a man who is 60 years of age or so and has given us some of the true classics songs in the Metal-world he has little left to prove.
Whereas "Magica" was at times over complicated and perhaps trying a little too hard to please, "Killing The Dragon" is stripped to the bones Hard Rock and Metal. The opening track "Killing The Dragon" just pounds through the speakers and reminds me of MAIDEN's "Powerslave". The rather oddly titled "Along Comes A Spider" just keeps the rocking going as does "Scream". A great riff supplied by late Craig Goldie replacement Doug Aldrich (ex-LION/HOUSE OF LORDS). This isn't complicated music. Just solid riffing with little keyboard or studio tinkering to upset the mix.
The album slips up with "Rock And Roll" that is just too "Kashmir" for my liking but normal service is resumed with the likes of "Push" and "Guilty". "Throw Away Children" (where does he get the titles from!?!) is classic Ronnie James and a return to the halcyon-days of the early 80's.
But I haven't mentioned the voice yet! Ronnie James delivers a powerful, emotive and charming performance. Quite rightly he stands up there with Plant, Rodgers, Gillan etc, etc as one of the best of the genre. After all his voice has graced the finest Rock-songs and it will be a sad day when the world of Rock loses this genuine talent.
An excellent album from a man with a rich heritage. I wonder if the Nu-Metal-lot will ever reach such high standards. (Online July 18, 2002)