Dio
The Last in Line


4.0
excellent

Review

by Magnus Altkula STAFF
November 30th, 2009 | 104 replies | 16,385 views


Release Date: 1984 | Tracklist


Ronnie James Dio is a name in the metal community that does not need introducing. So the more surprising I find that his self titled band Dio isn't far as well-known, and recognized, as Ronnie-era Black Sabbath and the new Heaven And Hell project. Sure, most heavy metal fans know the classic Holy Diver, or have Dio's Greatest Hits album, but sadly, that's where the common metal fan's knowledge of Dio ends. Some of the more knowledgeable metal listeners are also able to quickly name Dio's other two more famous albums, The Last In Line and Sacred Heart. Now, I can proudly say that I own most of Dio's records, and the sad news that came the other day about Ronnie James Dio's struggle with cancer prompted me to give these classic heavy metal albums a go once more. It must be stated, that I'm a sucker for good production and heavy sound, and during most of my free time I listen to metal done in the mid-to-late 90's and 2000's. But when about once or twice a month I spin those old (classic) metal albums (Iron Maiden's Piece Of Mind, Dio's Holy Diver, Black Sabbath's Heaven And Hell etc), the listening experience I get from those feels just so much more special and genuine.

Today, I'm here to review one of Dio's most acclaimed works, the album The Last In Line . When Dio's massive debut album Holy Diver landed on the shelves of music stores all over the world in 1983, people were absolutely blown away by it. The guitar harmonies, Ronnie James Dio's pitch-perfect tenor, and amazingly well done song compositions were all unbelievably good and stand tall even till this day. Holy Diver had proved that leaving Black Sabbath was a right decision for Ronnie, even though who knows what Black Sabbath and Ronnie would've accomplished in the future, if they had stayed together. Still, if they had done that, we wouldn't have a Holy Diver to listen to, neither would we have the Dio albums that succeeded it. Only about a year after the super-successful Holy Diver, Dio already released another album, titled The Last In Line. Expectation were obviously high for it; could The Last In Line possibly live up to Holy Diver? The answer: it's not as good, but it is a worthy descendant, and an excellent classic heavy metal album.

What catches the ear, at least for me, is that The Last In Line is not as aggressive and raw-ish as Holy Diver was. The guitar harmonies are still mighty magnificent, Ronnie's voice is as powerful as ever, and the bluesy solos are technical as always, but the whole atmosphere is lighter, the guitars are softer all-around and the songs are less quirky. Even the production is a lot more polished on this record. With that though, comes a bonus - the bass is audible. The enjoyable slow bass lines in "One Night In The City", the slightly pummeling bass in "Eat Your Heart Out", or the smooth, picked lines in the single "Mystery" add a great deal to the overall quality of the songs. Those are just the standouts though; the bass plays an important role in every song.

One thing that I admit, has gone down a bit, is the songwriting. On one too many songs, the verses sound shallow, and the tracks are always circling around the chorus. There are still cleverly put solos throughout the album, that fill some of those voids, but compared to Holy Diver, the songwriting has gone down. It's not necessarily bad, but overly simplistic and a bit lazy. Luckily, the guitar work and Ronnie's vocals are just enough to save the show, and save it with grace.

The main attraction for Dio are, of course, mr.Dio's soaring, dramatic and powerful vocals. There's no question about it; the man and his voice are legends. Confidently, his voice flows from track through track, heading towards the glorious end of the album. There's no need for me to describe them any further, as in a sense, Dio's vocals are indeed, indescribable. I am simply a conjuror, trying to paint a picture as clear as I can, but in order to fully grasp it, it is you, who needs to try it out yourself.

Instrumental side of The Last In Line is great as expected, although a bit soft-sounding, like I already mentioned. The bluesy solos are top notch and technical, and while the verses are mostly infested with rather simple chords with small progression, they still work/are pleasantly overshadowed by Ronnie's vocals. Drum patterns exhibited here are mostly simple as hell, but due to the fairly slow pace of most songs, the drums manage to keep pace and compliment the guitars nicely. Still, at times, some more energetic kicks and slashes wouldn't hurt. Overall though, both the rhythm- and melody section work very well. The riffs are in perfect harmony with Ronnie’s voice and the solid rhythm section keeps things well intact.

What Dio achieved with The Last In Line, is a worthy follow-up to an album that I do not hesitate to call a classic. It's not as good, and will probably always be compared to its predecessor, but is no way a giveaway album, far from it, it’s excellent. Classic tracks like "The Last In Line", "I Speed At Night" and "Mystery" will no doubt please fans of classic heavy metal for years to come, and this metal act, although at least in my opinion definitely unrecognized, will sure live long in the memory of many.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
November 30th 2009



8321 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

in honour of Ronnie James Dio. Hope he beats that cancer and continues to give us great music to listen to.

Jips
November 30th 2009



1129 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks for Reviewing Dio...

Have this Vinyl and spin it often...

^^/ (this is the only place where it is ok to make keystroke devil horns)

LepreCon
November 30th 2009



3815 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great review metalstyles, I'm almost as fond of this album as Holy Diver. I do hope he beats the cancer, the metal world isn't ready to be without Dio just yet

Digging: Overkill - White Devil Armory

FadeToBlack
November 30th 2009



10913 Comments


i only have Holy Diver, which other Dio albums should i pick up?

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
November 30th 2009



8321 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@ Conor
thanks man. Stomach cancer is rough, but I'm sure he'll pull through. He's a tough man I tell ya

@Fade
well this here, Dream Evil and Sacred Heart for sure

Greggers
November 30th 2009



2375 Comments


Great review, never really listened to much Dio if I'm honest, I'll have to give this and Holy Diver a listen at some point

Nagrarok
November 30th 2009



8170 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Definitely start with Holy Diver Greg. That reminds me I should probably buy that album. Going to listen to this soon, liked the talkative writing style, although the sentence flow can be improved upon (let's be honestly critical here if you don't mind). More of your reviews have that, and it's undoubtedly because English is not your first language. Still pos-worthy though, hehe.

As for Dio, he has that extremely powerful and present voice, but the only thing he should have done more is make use of range and hit some higher and lower notes. Oh well.

It must be stated, that I'm a sucker for good production and heavy sound, and during most of my free time I listen to metal done in the mid-to-late 90's and 2000's. But when about once or twice a month I spin those old (classic) metal albums (Iron Maiden's Piece Of Mind, Dio's Holy Diver, Black Sabbath's Heaven And Hell etc), the listening experience I get from those feels just so much more special and genuine.


AHA!

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
November 30th 2009



8321 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

thanks man and yea, I do enjoy listening my classic heavy metal cd's once or twice a month haha. I just don't let it show out too much lol.

Nagrarok
November 30th 2009



8170 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Also, you'd be happy to hear that I suddenly got inspiration for writing my London Calling review because of this here work.

KILL
November 30th 2009



71087 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yeaaa dio

Digging: David Axelrod - Song of Innocence

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
November 30th 2009



8321 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Also, you'd be happy to hear that I suddenly got inspiration for writing my London Calling review because of this here work.
glad to be of assistance

KILL - fuck yea, Dio is clrealy FTW


Nagrarok
November 30th 2009



8170 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Listening now and this is such a step down from Holy Diver. Will probably not get more than a 3.5. Should have been much more original and challenging. It's essentialy the same approach, but then without the extra punch.

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
November 30th 2009



8321 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Listening now and this is such a step down from Holy Diver
it is of course the truth, that this is inferior to Holy Diver in quite every way, but it's still really good imo. And judging by the ratings, many many people agree with me haha.

Nagrarok
November 30th 2009



8170 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Unsurprisingly, Dio is god on sputnik.

Especially the lyrics are also weaker here, way too bland at times. Take Mystery for example:

It's always a mystery, not what it seems to be.

I mean, they were cheesy before, but at least they were great at that.

Meatplow
November 30th 2009



5524 Comments


Yeah, I never warmed up to anything else of Dio's except Holy Diver which is a shame, because that album is great and I want to like the guy so much.

Still, this definitely has its moments.

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
November 30th 2009



8321 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Unsurprisingly, Dio is god on sputnik.
not really, just look how little reviews he's got on this site and how little ratings in general. He is a god of metal though, that's for sure.


Covered that songwriting/lyrics section all in my review.

Meatplow - he is such a likable guy isn't he haha. OH well, I thoroughly enjoy him, although, I need to agree once again, that Holy Diver is almighty and Dio's (the band's) crowning achievement

Nagrarok
November 30th 2009



8170 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah ok, I'm overdoing it, but he is generally loved here. And I now you covered it, so I should have probably just said: definitely agree there.

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
November 30th 2009



8321 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

but he is generally loved here
and for a good reason ;)
And I now you covered it, so I should have probably just said: definitely agree there.
yeah I was just being a smartass haha


MetalMassacreAttack
November 30th 2009



424 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good review, even though a bit repetitive.

Dio owns

freudianslipknot
November 30th 2009



803 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Egypt (the chains are on) ftw



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