Dio - Killing The Dragon
With a gallop and a roar, Dio's new album opens with a (title) track that is one of the man's effortlessly drop-dead cool rock stalkers in years. Hard to live up to this one's dark but novel vocal melodies, its unexpected riff switchbacks, Simon Wright's 'Vinny who?' percussion pocket. And the album alas, doesn't, although it kills Magica dead, as well as living up to its bill as a collection of songs, any one of which could dot the hallowed landscape of the first four Dio albums. It's pretty much the same production, most pertinently, a similar drum performance, even if Wright is a bit shackled compared to Vinny. New guitarist Doug Aldrich does an admirable job of slash and burn, again, turning in a performance that is 75 to 80% as wanton-licked as the man to which he must compare, Viv Campbell. Things drag a bit with Rock & Roll, Push and Guilty, Ronnie still oddly enamoured with these sparse pregnant pause songs. And that taints the record a spell, the whole thing sounding a bit too "tidy", bouncy (snare's tuned too high: yer ProTools are showin'), a mite subdued, with songs forced to live or die on riffs that often drop away come verse time. Ends with a left-field track Ronnie calls a partial throwback to Elf, Cold Feet being the sassiest, sunniest Dio song in a while. Sum verdict: often grand, nary a truly duff track, but often a bit peg-forced and pig-fed into Dio squares, much the way Halford's Resurrection satisfied and then vaguely dissatisfied.
Fozzy - Happenstance
As everyone knows, Fozzy were a band that became stranded in Japan while all sorts of '80s metal greats stole their songs and rode them to the top. Either that, or they are rassler Chris Jericho and Stuck Mojo's Rich Ward jerkin' yer chain. In any event, they are back on their Happenstance sophomore with more '80s tunes, this time (predictably, thankfully) mixed with a few originals. These new tunes, of course rule, because Stuck Mojo was a kick ass band, both rhythmic and almost oppressively bright, both characteristics of which carry over onto these searingly guitary yet melodically hair bandy songs. But I'd have to say I disagree beeringly with the band's choice of "covers." Freewheel Burning, L.O.V.E. Machine, The Mob Rules and especially - goddamn it - Big City Nights are all inferior material from their respective bands. Maiden, no matter what you pick, is played out and I never need to hear Balls To The Wall again, by Accept, by U.D.O. live in front of 40 people, by Fozzy. Please, for the sake of the jaded, go deep next time or better yet... all originals. Bloody 'ell, Crucify Yourself coulda been a Chemical Wedding highlight, as coulda To Kill A Stranger. Major talent here: vocals, guitar (riffs, leads, twin leads), production, it's quite the package.
Hard Reviews Page 4