Ronnie James Dio : This Is Your Life

RonnieJamesDio_ThisIsYourLife_WEBThere have been rumours of this one for a while, an all star tribute to the late, great Ronnie James Dio. This isn’t to be your usual tribute album fare though, with some huge names contributing their take on some classics (and less well known tracks) from Dio’s multi-decade spanning career.

As we approach the fourth anniversary of his death it seems like as good a point as any to shine the spotlight on an unrivaled career, and at the same time raise money for the Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund 

And when we say huge names, we mean it… they don’t come much bigger than Corey Taylor or Metallica. Also on here are contributions from Dio’s peers like Glenn Hughes, former bandmates like Jimmy Bain, Vinny Appice and Doug Aldrich while Halestorm fly the flag for the new generation for who Dio was such an inspiration.

Things kick off flat out with Anthrax’s take on Neon Knights, which sees Joey Belladonna turning in one of his finest vocal performances in ages. Obviously all the vocalists on this album have got to be on top of their game to even approach the benchmark that Dio set, and Belladonna is definitely not found wanting.

Tenacious D make an appearance with a straight-down-the-middle version of The Last In Line before The Adrenaline Mob stamp their mark on, appropriately, The Mob Rules. It’d be wrong to say that everything on the album works as well though, with Corey Taylor and friends not quite hitting the spot with Rainbow In The Dark.

I think the surprise package on here is Straight Through The Heart, which sees Lzzy Hale more than justifying the bands inclusion on the album. You want power and passion in a track like this and Lzzy simply oozes both. Looking at the tracklisting beforehand you’d be forgiven for thinking that you’d be on shaky ground with this one, but not a bit of it.

Brilliant stuff.

And so it goes on, Starstruck sees Biff from Saxon hook up with Motorhead for their rollicking take on the Rainbow classic before the Scorpions play it by the heavy metal numbers for Temple Of The King.

If only all tribute albums were this good. I mean we all know the songs are great but it’s fantastic to see the bands who take them on doing it so convincingly.

Prior to the release I was interested to see who would have a stab at Egypt (The Chains Are On), but it was in safe hands the first lady of Metal, Doro Pesch. For me this is just about the highlight of the album, and on an album this good that’s saying something !!

Of course KSE’s Holy Diver makes an appearance here, but you’ve already heard that one, right ??

Things continue with couple of tracks featuring bands made up of Dio’s contemporaries, Glenn Hughes leading proceedings for Catch The Rainbow and Oni Logan giving his vocal pipes a stretch on I, both of which are knocked into a cocked hat by a frankly mental Man On The Silver Mountain featuring another metal god, Rob Halford on vocals backed by Dio stalwarts Vinnie Appice and Doug Aldrich.

Much has been made of Metallica’s appearance on this album, and their awesome blast through their Ronnie Rising medley is just about the best ting they have done in decades. Metallica wanted to be involved in this project from the start, and their romp through A Light In The Black, Tarot Woman, Stargazer and Kill The King seems to hint at a new, re-energised phase for the world’s biggest Thrash band. Hopefully it bodes well for their upcoming album…

Proceedings draw to a close, fittingly, with Ronnie James Dio making an appearance for This Is Your Life, a little known track from the largely overlooked (but well worth your attention) Angry Machines solo album.

And so it comes to an end. There have been a load of tribute albums over the years, but This Is Your Life has to go down as one of the very best. Great songs, great performances and benefiting a great cause, This Is Your Life is as close to an essential tribute album as you’ll ever hear.