By Andrew Bansal
As a tribute to the late great heavy metal icon Ronnie James Dio, some of the biggest luminaries of the genre have combined their efforts for the ‘This Is Your Life’ compilation, which consists of 13 covers of Ronnie’s most loved classics from his Black Sabbath, Rainbow and Dio catalogs, along with the title track off of the 1996 ‘Angry Machines’ album. 10 of the 13 covers are brand new and previously unreleased. All proceeds from the sale of this album are going to the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up And Shout Cancer Fund, and will be devoted to the organization’s ongoing cancer research. The album was released physically and digitally on April 1st 2014 via Rhino Music, and here’s what listeners can expect from it.
The album begins in full earnest with Anthrax’ version of ‘Neon Knights’ as Joey Belladonna pours his heart and soul into his vocal delivery, as he does every time he pays tribute to his musical idol. Tenacious D’s ‘The Last In Line’ comes next, in my opinion the surprise package of the album. Even though already released on their ‘Coverta’ EP early last year, Adrenaline Mob’s cover of ‘The Mob Rules’ finds itself appropriately included in this compilation and another great singer in Sir Russell Allen brings that song to life. Halestorm’s ‘Straight Through The Heart’ has not only garnered praise on this website before but has been unanimously appreciated by everyone who’s heard it including people who aren’t even Halestorm fans, and for good reason. The same goes for Corey Taylor, to the extent that his performance on ‘Rainbow In The Dark’ singlehandedly wins him a new set of fans. One of the musicians combining with him for this cover is Steel Panther guitarist Satchel, who absolutely rips the guitar leads and solos.
As the listener passes the initial phase of the album and gets into its mid-section, a delightful treat awaits with a trio of splendid gems in Motörhead & Biff Byford’s ‘Starstruck’, ‘Temple Of The King’ by Scorpions and ‘Egypt’ by Doro Pesch, each of these musicians lending their silken touch to these beautiful songs and expressing them in a manner never heard before. But following the metal queen’s spellbinding, seductive vocal delivery on ‘Egypt’, the compilation plunges to its weakest track with Killswitch Engage’s atrocious treatment of ‘Holy Diver’. This cover was originally released by Killswitch at least five years ago, and in all honesty, this album could have done without it, because it’s the only dud in this otherwise stellar assortment. Nothing against the band, but this cover is just plain horrible and I would suggest listeners to go for the ‘Skip’ button every time it comes up in play.
But thankfully, the album moves on from its worst moment to arguably its finest, with the ever-amazing Glenn Hughes’ inspirational rendition of ‘Catch The Rainbow’ wherein he’s also aided by Dio members Simon Wright, Craig Goldy, Rudy Sarzo and Scott Warren, and the quintet’s combined creation is perhaps the closest anyone on this album comes to sounding like the actual Dio band. This incredibly powerful track has the ability to overwhelm most listeners and at this point the album already achieves its aim of what it sets out to do. But almost like an encore, the album still offers four additional tracks, starting with brilliant all-star performances of ‘I’ and ‘Man On The Silver Mountain’ fronted by Oni Logan and Rob Halford respectively, and then diving into a 9-minute ‘Ronnie Rising’ medley by Metallica.
The four tracks that comprise this medley are very well-chosen, and although James Hetfield’s vocals are extremely mediocre, the instrumentation by Hammett, Trujillo and Ulrich is good enough to be deemed worthy of a place on this album and to say that this is easily the best thing Metallica have done in two decades is an understatement in itself. Production-wise too, this dwarfs most of their recent efforts. The album ends with the Dio original ‘This Is Your Life’, which is another track I’m not quite sure warranted a place here as it just sounds too depressing and may be shouldn’t have been included on what’s otherwise a positive, upbeat celebration of Ronnie James Dio’s life.
But overall, this compilation is several times worth the buck you’d spend on it, and it largely succeeds in its endeavor as it turns out to be a fitting tribute to the life and music of the great man.
Record Label: Rhino
Release Date: April 1st 2014
01. “Neon Knights” – Anthrax
02. “The Last In Line” – Tenacious D
03. “The Mob Rules” – Adrenaline Mob *
04. “Rainbow In The Dark” – Corey Taylor, Roy Mayorga, Satchel, Christian Martucci, Jason Christopher
05. “Straight Through The Heart” – Halestorm
06. “Starstruck” – Motörhead with Biff Byford
07. “The Temple Of The King” – Scorpions
08. “Egypt (The Chains Are On)” – Doro *
09. “Holy Diver” – Killswitch Engage *
10. “Catch The Rainbow” – Glenn Hughes, Simon Wright, Craig Goldy, Rudy Sarzo, Scott Warren*
11. “I” – Oni Logan, Jimmy Bain, Rowan Robertson, Brian Tichy
12. “Man On The Silver Mountain” – Rob Halford, Vinny Appice, Doug Aldrich, Jeff Pilson, Scott Warren
13. “Ronnie Rising Medley (Featuring A Light In The Black, Tarot Woman, Stargazer, Kill The King)” – Metallica
14. “This Is Your Life” – Dio *
* = Previously released