Review Summary: A celebration of a larger than life voice.
Tribute albums are a hit or miss affair. A lot of times they tend to offer very few additional elements compared to the original material and as a result they end up collecting dust in the back of our music collection. Therefore, lifetime value is a common issue as a cover version of a legendary track might bring instant enthusiasm on first listen, as it may seem as something fresh. Over time though, listeners tend to focus on the originals and for a good reason.
This Is Your Life
was released almost four year after Dio’s passing away due to stomach cancer and all proceeds are scheduled to go towards Dio’s Stand Up And Shout Cancer Fund. At first sight, what may impress the prospective listener is the array of talent on this album. Artists such as Motorhead, Metallica, Glenn Hughes, Rob Halford, Biff Byford and Scorpions are legends themselves so their participation makes this offering even more appealing.
Overall, This Is Your Life
has its ups, its downs and a few tracks that are quite fun and well performed but are bound to be forgotten sooner rather than later. The absolute highlight of the album is without a doubt Metallica’s medley that includes four legendary tracks from Dio’s time with Rainbow; “A Light In The Black”, “Tarot Woman” and “Stargazer” from the colossal Rising
and “Kill The King” from Long Live Rock 'n' Roll
. The listener has to get past the first minute or so as James Hetfield’s vocals may sound a bit odd to some people who have listened to the tracks hundreds of times from Dio. However, the instrumentation is excellent, the track is adventurous and creative and years after the “Mercyful Fate” medley, Metallica prove once again that they are an excellent cover band. My only objection is that it could have been higher on the tracklist so as to give more steam to the album. Moreover, Halestorm’s rendition of “Straight Through the Heart” is one of the most fun songs even though the instrumentation sounds a bit dry at the beginning. Lzzy Hale tries to impersonate Dio’s late 80s gruff in her voice and provides an overall exceptional performance.
In addition, “Egypt” and “Catch the Rainbow” are two standout tracks as Doro on the former travels the listener back to the ‘80s with her distinctive voice that adds to the epic character of the song while Glenn Hughes makes the latter even bluesier with his emotional performance. What’s more, Motorhead with Biff Byford on vocals, add an small amount of sleaze typical of them on “Starstruck” whereas Anthrax present us a more metallic version of “Neon Knights” that doesn’t deviate much from the original.
However, the album has its weak moments as well. Maybe the most underwhelming track is “Man on the Silver Mountain” with its silly intro, Halford’s subpar performance and the mediocre guitar playing. Moving on, “The Temple of the King” is too cheesy losing all its original charm, “Holy Diver” modified far too much for its own good and “Rainbow in the Dark” a bit dull while it features the original keyboard riff played on guitar. Moreover, “The Last in Line” has lost much of the original’s power and features a flute solo(!); definitely expected better from Tenacious D. “The Mob Rules” sounds a bit more modern but the vocals are not very impressive whilst “I” from Dehumanizer
, a surprising choice, is well performed but seems a bit odd considering the legendary tracks included in this album. Lastly, “This is Your Life” has been taken from Angry Machines
and features Dio on the vocals. Its place on the album is more emotional and symbolic as one can understand.
In a nutshell, This Is Your Life
is a really fun compilation that suffers from some of the typical drawbacks of any tribute album but manages to stay afloat. Even though it’s quite on the long side, the omission of “Heaven and Hell” (that has already been covered successfully by Manowar) and “Gates of Babylon” is quite striking as the two tracks feature some of Dio’s most iconic performances and could have easily replaced a couple of the album’s weaker tracks. This could have probably provided some extra points to what eventually is a celebration of metal’s most iconic vocalist.