Last In Line – Heavy Crown (Out 19 February 2016 via Frontiers SRL)

Last In Line – Heavy Crown (Out 19 February 2016 via Frontiers SRL)

This project has been SO anticipated, and rightly so.

Last In Line, in case you’ve had your head in the sand, are a band formed by three original members of Dio, and take their name from the original band’s second album.

Vocalist Ronnie James Dio, originally a trumpet player, then a bassist, made his name as a vocalist with Electric Elves (then Elf), before going on to front Rainbow (former Deep Purple’s guitarist and founder Ritchie Blackmore’s band), then replacing Ozzy in Black Sabbath. And while Elf produced three fantastic albums, it is Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, Rainbow Rising and Long Live Rock’n’Roll that really saw him in the spotlight, and the Sabbath years in the early 80s followed suit.

The eponymous band, Dio, made their own waves, and originally featured drummer Vinny Appice (also ex Sabbath), guitarist Vivian Campbell (ex Sweet Savage, later Whitesnake and Def Leppard) and former Rainbow / Wild Horses bassist Jimmy Bain. Those three feature here, and alongside keyboard player Claude Schnell Dio produced a strong of fantastic classic metal albums. Holy Diver and Last In Line are both essential listening.

While they didn’t originally intend to write new music, the band developed and here we have a solid album. With former Lynch Mob vocalist Andrew Freeman, the band have recorded 11 tracks (12 on the special edition) and worthy in their own right, Last in Line have proven to be.

Opener Devil In Me kicks off with a hard crunch riff, a solid if rough sound, and while heavier than the early Dio, there are serious retrospective nods (Shame On The Night springs to mind). Martyr is a faster driving track; the fast rhythm is augmented by some seriously good guitar interjection.

The vocals are solid, hard, heavy, and the power has a slightly rough edge; like the range, it’s good but it’s not RJD. Wouldn’t expect it to be, he’s irreplaceable.

A couple of tracks, only by Dio’s original standards, don’t flow quite so smoothly, but I Am Revolution stands out at a blistering pace. In contrast Blame It On Me is a slower chunkier track.

Throughout the album the guitar solos are classic Campbell, which will please Dio fans. The 11 tracks on this album all sound fantastic. There elements of (almost derivative) early Dio, but you’d expect that and they are good, a reminder of just how good those days were, while the heavier more modern elements show what a good unit this band are.

With only a couple of disjointed moments, the one main issue is a lack of keyboards; all of RJD’s highlights had a keyboard, even if only in an intricate supportive role.

Too modern / heavy to be as classic as it deserves, it’s still a fantastic listen. I hope this band develop and produce a second album. 8.2/10
Joe Gessin

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Last In Line – Heavy Crown (Out 19 February 2016 via Frontiers SRL)