Review Summary: It's another solid album by Dio. A different group of musicians backed Ronnie this time but like always it's held together by his voice and lyrics. Band members weren't all that changed when the '90s turned around. His lyrics changed too. For the entire d
It's Dio's hair metal album! At least production-wise. It has that "rootsy" sound a lot of hair metal bands were going for at the time: a little bit of blues, some acoustic guitar here and there, not a lot of keyboards to wimp it out. (Drummer Simon Wright is on this album for crying out loud. The guy just throws it down. Like, "You want some flat-out rock 'n roll" Not a problem." Simon played with AC/DC for a few years. He knows how to play straight up, no fooling around, rock.) Since I like hair metal I thought "Oh cool. I like hair metal and metal metal and I'm getting one of my favorite guys (Ronnie) to meet me halfway." Which was unusual for Dio. He/they didn't do it again. Lock Up the Wolves was a one-off which makes it even more unique. Before and after this album, it was all about "We'll rock your face off" kind of music. (This lineup --including teenage guitarist Rowan Robertson-- wouldn't play together again, though Simon rejoined the band in 2000.) It's a good album to play for someone who doesn't like Dio. If you want to ease them into it, play "Hey Angel" and then step back.
Dio usually kicked off their albums with a fast, fist pumping, air guitar shredding kind of song and this time it was "Wild One" that got the ball rolling. That ball didn't roll very far. They lost all momentum by the next track, "Born on the Sun." It's not bad, just real slow. Not a good choice for the second song. Even "Hey Angel"(#3) would have been a dumb choice for song #2 and it's all kinds of awesome. Next is one of Dio's all-time best songs. "Between Two Hearts" is basically perfect. Almost a ballad but not really. It's slow but the tempo isn't annoying, it's appropriate. The lyrics are memorable (smile at the animals, they should be the ones in the cages) and true. The band did everything right. Then another good one keeps you wanting more. "Night Music" is straightforward, melodic hard rock. Things fall down for a while after that. "Lock Up the Wolves" and "Evil on Queen Street" sort of plod along even though the lyrics themselves are great (they usually are). "Walk on Water" picks up the pace but is still boring. Sounds like "Stand Up and Shout" but not as good. The only thing that I like about "Twisted" is the pre-solo bridge. It comes out of nowhere and then goes back there once the solo starts. The last one-and-a-half songs are what I'm talking about when I say "Uh, let's turn this up." Second to last is "Why Are They Watching Me." It's what "Walk on Water" tried to be: a good, mostly uptempo, catchy, riff-rocking monster. The last song starts off with what might be the best intro on any Dio album. For real. The first 39 seconds of "My Eyes" never seem to end. I play them over and over and over again and then some more. When I stop doing that, it's still pretty until the 2:12 mark. Then it veers off into something that's just okay. Instead of having to "rock out" for the last half of the song, they should have stuck with that folky first half. Even today it bugs me.