Review Summary: Excellent album, combine with Black Sabbath’s The Dio Years to fill in the blanks in Ronnie Dio’s 80s/early 90s career. The early Dio-Sabbath material compliments early Dio, while the bands' latter material also blends together well.
The perfect “best of” album – or “collection” as this album dubs itself – of course summarises a band or artist’s best work spanning their entire career. However, in the case of Dio, as is often the case, the band’s career was split over multiple record labels, resulting in compilations such as this covering only a part of their career. The Collection
manages to cover a large portion all the same though, featuring material from their initial 1983-1990 run – their creative and commercial peak – and the band’s reunion album in 1994, Strange Highways
, leaving off the band’s final four releases. Those latter day albums are far from essential, but at the same time would suit a compilation for this reason – they are more in need of having the fat trimmed off them than the band’s 80s releases.
The fact that there are a full five songs from 1983’s Holy Diver
is of little surprise – most metal fans should own this album already! More useful is having four songs apiece from the band’s next two albums, giving them just the right level of coverage. Two songs from Dream Evil
conclude the decade, with a token track each from Lock up the Wolves
and Strange Highways
The set is in chronological order, which works excellently. Each album did have a distinct sound, though only when they are split up like this is it noticeable. It is entertaining to hear the transitions; songs from Holy Diver sound positively medieval, while a more classic rock sound crept into The Last in Line
. This more mainstream sound took a turn for the worse on Sacred Heart
and Dream Evil
, with the band’s sound being bogged down in synths, carbon dating the production to the 1980s. Ultimately, it’s no major deviation, but the gradual transition makes for an interesting journey whilst remaining similar enough to hold together as one listen.
The two exceptions here are the last two tracks. 1990’s Lock up the Wolves
’s “Wild One” has the energy and aggression of a revamped new band, showing awareness of the rise of thrash metal at the turn of the decade, and waking up the listener in time for the finale. Strange Highways
– represented here by the awkwardly titled “Jesus, Mary and the Holy Ghost” carries a crushing production, and a slightly quirky structure, offering something of a sneak preview for an era not covered here. It is not the best song on The Collection
, but serves a purpose.
was so, so good at what it did that having it up front gives the rest of the compilation real momentum. This frontloading of quality works in the album’s favour, because the later tracks are of a high enough calibre themselves, and sound different enough to avoid the risk of direct comparisons. A thrilling listen throughout then!