Following up such magnificent efforts such as “Holy Diver” and “The Last In Line” was always going to be a rather arduous task and while little man DIO’s third full-length effort didn’t quite meet the high standard set by its two predecessors it’s still a great album that is sadly overlooked and underrated in the DIO canon. My fellow reviewer Chris gave this album a harrowing 4/10 rating. 4 out of 10?! Hell, that’s the kind of rating you give to albums like “Load” and “Roots”, not fucking DIO! Well, I’m here to set the record (pun intended) straight…
The first thing that is apparent when listening to “Sacred Heart” is the much more polished and epic feeling present especially the keyboard melodies of Claude Schnell. His melodies have become much more expansive and adventurous and it’s perhaps the highlight of the album. Dio is solid but he sings with a little les energy here for some reason. Viv Campbell is still in fine fettle though and his melodic yet crunchy riffs really add punch to these songs, especially on numbers like “Just Another Day” and “Another Lie”. Jimmy Bain and Vinnie Appice is still a mega solid rhythm section so there are no complaints there.
I really like this album a lot and still consider it a stronger and more energetic effort than “Dream Evil”. The album’s main pitfall is its inconsistency. Quite simply – a wonderful first half is undermined by a lackluster second half. “King Of Rock And Roll” is a speedy opener akin to “We Rock” but it’s laced with phony live effects that I find a bit cheesy. The title track is the first real highlight here with it’s majestic mid-paced riffs and instantly memorable chorus backed up by some very tasty keyboard and guitar harmonies. Great!! “Another Lie” is a more Hard Rock number with a good chorus and more varied vocals by Dio. Then comes the real gem on here. Rock. And. Roll. Children. This one ranks right up there with classics like “Rainbow In The Dark” and “Evil Eyes” as one of the band’s very best songs. Once that main riff kicks in it's Metal bliss mainlined straight to the brain! So far so good, but then comes the slump. “Hungry For Heaven”, “Like The Beat Of A Heart” and Fallen Angels” are all pretty forgettable songs that completely lack any kind of conviction. Only the brilliant “Just Another day” saves the second half from completely falling apart. The melodies from 2:03-2:12 in this song absolutely kicks ass! Oh yeah, don’ even get me started on the closer “Shoot Shoot”. One of the worst DIO songs ever, with a revolting chorus. Yuk!
With such a marked contrast between the two halves on this album it would be easy (and logical) to give this one a rating of 5/10, but that wouldn’t really be fair. The good songs on here are among the very best the band had penned up to this point and they more than make up for the more average songs on here. The band might have blown its load with the two preceding albums but this one is still a winner. It might have succeeded more by will than anything else but that is still good enough for me.
This is a good album but not a great one. Even with that in mind it still deserves more than a 4/10 score. If you like old school Heavy Metal then you should cop this one!
(Online February 11, 2007)