It’s hard to believe but the naysayer’s who had Ronnie James dead and buried during the 1990’s must now be taking their share of a very large humble pie. For not only has Ronnie James (never Ronnie by the way) and his self named band DIO now into a third long player of the new century they’ve managed to record yet another highly polished, melodic and magical slice of Metal and Hard Rock in ‘’Master Of The Moon’’.
The ball was a set a rollin’ with the promise of 2000’s ‘’Magica’’ and continued into 2002’s ‘’Killing The Dragon’’ and ‘’Master Of The Moon’’ only serves to strengthen the DIO revival in 2004. It’s nearly twenty five years since the seminal release of ‘’Holy Diver’’ and to be honest Ronnie James has never bested that 1981 offering. He’s had near misses – ‘’Last In Line’’ and ‘’Dream Evil’’ but ‘’Holy Diver’’ always comes to mind when thinking of DIO’s halcyon days.
Once again reunited with guitarist Craig Goldie and missing bassist Jimmy Bain, Bain is replaced with none other than Jeff Pilson, the DIO band consist of ex-AC/DC sticks man Simon Wright and Scott Warren on keyboards.
Before you all get to thinking that this is ‘’Holy Diver’’ part two then think again. DIO will never record better but ‘’Master Of The Moon’’ easily stands along side those mentioned above. There’s little new DIO still sings about all those things that he’s sung about for many, many years but it’s not all Dragons and rainbows. His side swipe at George W. Bush on the stinging ‘’Man Who Would Be King’’ is a positive distraction for the normal lyrical content you expect. ‘’One More For The Road’’ kicks of things rather toe-tapping nicely with Ronnie James in fine form (is he ever not in fine form!) while the title track slows the tempo right down to and gets under the skin where it sits and germinates into a mini epic. ‘’The End Of The World’’ pinches a bit of ‘’Black N Black’’ DC but Ronnie hits the nail on the head with the lyrics lamenting ‘’What ever happened to the rock and roll song’’ and ‘’Shivers’’ is the Metal part of the album. A solid Goldy riff complete with catchy chorus and lyrics that possibly relate to one of Ronnie James’s past indiscretions! ‘’Living A Lie’’ continues the up beat Metal riffing as does ‘’Death By Love’’
Given his age and seeming never ending energy Ronnie James DIO has worked for all of his success through ELF, RAINBOW and BLACK SABBATH and his own band. He has written some of the most influential music in Metal and Rock (if you can’t name at least ten DIO written songs then hang your head in shame) and is without a shadow of doubt in my mind the finest singer to grace the Rock world.
It’s a disgrace that certain sections of the Rock media would rather insult Ronnie James for his size and lyrics when his contribution to Rock music goes beyond the norm. Tell me this: will any of the big so called artists of today in the Rock scene be around doing what Ronnie James has been doing since the 1960’s? I think not and for that alone the man should be revered and respected. (Online October 22, 2004)