Review Summary: A solid compilation. And it's cheap. REAL cheap.
I had recently received a twenty dollar giftcard for Wal-Mart, courtesy of my grandparents on mom's side of the family. From the second I saw it, I knew exactly what I was to do with it. I was going to buy a CD! So in one of the following days, I travelled through the lands and went to a Wal-Mart close to my residence. I went to the music section, and spent at least an hour trying to make a decision. I had already selected Jimi Hendrix's 20th Century Masters. It was cheap, it was Hendrix, and it would make a nice addition to my collection. But then, I noticed an album that I had read about on Wikipedia a few days earlier. It was Black Sabbath's newest compilation, The Dio Years. It was not like any other Sabbath compilation. It had Ronnie James Dio on vocals. Plus, it was cheap. So I purchased it, ran home, and gave it a listen. Needless to say, I was not disappointed.
At the time, I had been listening to Heaven And Hell a lot, so I knew that I would enjoy this album from the getgo. It had three newly recorded tracks on it, with the exact same line-up that was on the other tracks on the album. These three new tracks are not too special at all, and if you want to buy this album but have heard all the other songs, then simply download the three new recordings. The Devil Cried is the best of the three. It has a very slow tempo, along with solid musicianship and such. It's also the longest of these three recordings. The other two new songs, Shadow In The Wind and Ear In The Wall, are average metal tunes, both of these also having a slow pace. There are rarely any exciting moments in either of these tracks, so if you are only buying this for the three new tracks, then you aren't making a smart move...unless you're a Dio completist of course.
But of course, we also have the classic tracks that every metalhead digs. Of course, a good compilation should almost always have the first track of said band's first album/first album by said band's time period that the compilation is covering/first album by said band's new line-up, and so on. Many compilations do this. Black Sabbath's Greatest Hits 1970-1978 does this, as well as Led Zeppelin's Early Days and Latter Days compilations. Does this album stick to that rule? Of course. Neon Knights is quite the song, featuring a fast and exciting pace, memorable riffs and solos, and good 'ol Dio fantasy lyrics. Afterwards, we have a good share of other Heaven And Hell tracks, before we move on to The Mob Rules songs, which are of slightly lower quality. Of course, the actual song Mob Rules is up to the same quality as some of the Heaven And Hell tracks. It will definitely get stuck in your head after listening to it. Tony Iommi plays his heart out with Dio's mystical vocals grabbing you in. It's just a fun, catchy metal song.
Now, the actual Dio Years were remarkably short. I cannot prove this, but from what I've heard, the man was extremely hard to get along with. To put it in slightly less respectful but simpler terms: He was a douche. Not the type that upturns his collar and wears Livestrong bracelets, but the type that is simply a jerk. So that explains why Ronnie James Dio's years with Black Sabbath were so short. He was with them for a brief three years, and when he left, the band was sent into a dark era where they would have line-up changes literally almost every year. But in 1992, Dio returned to record one more album with them: Dehumanizer. Now, the songs from Dehumanizer that are on this compilation are actually pretty good. One of the highlights is TV Crimes, which has, like every other song, excellent riffs and spectacular vocals. These tracks are of course not as good as the Heaven And Hell tracks, but they're decent on their own.
After these tracks end, a live version of Children Of The Sea, a track from Heaven And Hell, comes up. It is one-hundred percent live, and if you notice, Dio's singing perfectly. And it's live. What does this show you? That Dio can sing
even when he's not in the studio! This is a fantastic song, and the highlight of the album. It is like the studio version, but even better.
Overall, The Dio Years is solid buy. It's cheap, accessible, and it's an overall great album, with some fantastic tracks. If you're buying for the new tracks only, then don't waste your ten bucks on it. It's got everything you need to get you into Dio, or metal in general. It's more fast-paced and upbeat than the sludgier Ozzy material in Sabbath's early days. Although I prefer classics like Master Of Reality and Paranoid over the Dio Sabbath albums, this compilation contains some excellent stuff. It does not matter if Dio's a douche or not. This is killer music.