In May of this year we lost, quite possibly, the greatest melodic hard rock and metal singer in Ronnie James Dio. His influence was enormous upon the industry and a host of great vocalists past and present. One current vocalist, Jorn Lande (Jorn, Masterplan, et al) admits he would not be the vocalist or have the career he has today if not for the groundbreaking work of Ronnie James. Dio is his tribute to his mentor and friend.
Ironically, this tribute album was announced around the time of Dio's Passing, and so it was not with some controversy with many saying Jorn was a scandalous and disrespectful profiteer. Nothing could be farther from the truth because this album has been in the works since 2008. Therefore, it's better to say that this is a timely homage to the great singer, Ronnie James.
With an immense and profound catalog to choose from Jorn opted essentially for the DIO years in his selection. With the exception of his own tribute, Song for Ronnie James, the Black Sabbath era Lonely Is the Word and Letters from Earth, and Rainbow's Kill the King, everything else is from Dio's own projects. While longtime fans will recognize many, Lande's picks were for more obscure pieces. Yet, Push, Night People, and Sacred Heart were fine choices to add along Stand Up and Shout, Don't Talk to Strangers, and Sunset Superman.
Those unfamiliar with Jorn Lande are probably asking about now, does he sound like Dio? Or, maybe better, does he do Ronnie James' legacy justice. The answer to the first is probably yes and no. Yes, the influences are obvious but, no, Jorn sounds like himself throughout. As to the latter, the answer is an unequivocal, yes. Though certainly his own interpretation, Jorn varies little from classic DIO in these arrangements. The only addition may be his (and the band's) passion for some very great and timeless melodic heavy metal. Listening to Sacred Heart, Kill the King, or Stand Up and Shout more than honors the memory of Ronnie James: he will be resting on Jorn's shoulder when he sings these songs live. If Jorn is weak at any point, it may be in his presupposition not to choose more familiar Dio songs like Man on the Silver Mountain by example. This may put off those Dio fans who live by hits alone, but for us diehards we can dig this fine musical acclamation.
As tribute album's go, Jorn Lande's Dio is timely, professional and, of most importance, a worthy accolade to the master, Ronnie James Dio.
As tribute album's go, Jorn Lande's Dio is timely, professional and, of most importance, a worthy honorific to the master, Ronnie James Dio.
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