Various Artists – This Is Your Life (A Tribute To Ronnie James Dio) (2014)

This Is Your Life - A Tribute To Ronnie James Dio

“Straight Through The Heart” is taken on by Lzzy Hale, who also gives it a nice touch. Even though I can’t get into Halestorm at any other time, I will definitely give her the proper respect for this cover. One of the most bizarre covers (and songs in general) on this disc is the Motorhead contribution for “Starstruck.” No, you’re not drunk. That’s Biff Byford fronting Motorhead. I still have no idea as to how or why this happened, but Lemmy was obviously taking it easy during the recording for this piece and the Saxon frontman jumped on the project. But that’s going to be a little bit of a collector’s incentive for this disc. I mean, when else have you ever heard the frontman of Saxon recording with Motorhead? Exactly. The next track here is by The Scorpions who just couldn’t stay separated for too long, as “The Temple Of The King” shows. I’m particular to the Blackmore’s Night rendition (re-recorded for their latest album, Dancer And The Moon) and of course the original, (this song has always had a certain resonation with me) but they certainly do a solid job with the track regardless.

“Egypt (The Chains Are On)” is performed by Doro, whom a female friend of mine has had a crush on for many years now. Though I’m not so sure what she’d think of this song, there’s definitely a sense of power and purpose here; complete with misty guitars, dew-soaked drums and an all-out sort of eighties fuzz that sounds perfectly well placed among Doro’s passionate croons. Now I see why she’s fallen head over heels for this metal goddess. Killswitch Engage throw their Howard Jones fronted “Holy Diver” cover onto this mix, even though we didn’t really need it. I remember hearing this one back in 2006 however, and playing the living hell out of it during what was around the hey-day of metalcore (and before there was even an ounce of djent). At any rate, it’s definitely one of the strongest renditions I’ve ever heard of the track and it still sounds just as powerful today as it did when it was recorded. Howard’s vocals made it timeless. After the nostalgia trip has worn off, we’re enticed by a rendition of “Catch The Rainbow” by Glenn Hughes. I can’t get into the vocals at all here personally, and have heard better versions of this song before. However, I’ll say that this is Dio at his most fragile and it cannot be replicated. If you are new to Dio and turned off by this version of the song, then by all means hear the original version of this powerfully romantic song. Dio’s original version is timeless captivating and an absolute must for your next romantic foray. Jimmy Bain does a relatively strong version of “I” even though I’ve never heard the original track, or the band that covered it.

Next we have one of the biggest disappointments in my entire life, which is Rob Halford’s cover of one of my personal (it’s on my playlist) favorite songs of all time. That song would be the absolutely timeless (play it at my funeral) classic, “The Man On The Silver Mountain.” Musically, the arrangement is great. It sounds like a slight update of the original, rather than the full blown power metal version that Hammerfall did much earlier. Unfortunately, the amazing vocal shriek that we’d expect from this titan has been reduced to a slight whimper. Yes, read that again. I just used “Rob Halford” and “whimper” in the same sentence. I was so sure that he would hit it, that he’d be able to pull it off – I mean, this is Rob fucking Halford. But then when I finally got the track in my ears, I was completely frustrated by it. In all honesty, I think the track needs to be re-recorded. I even went back and listened to the original, noticing the high pitch vocal style that Dio uses doesn’t even carry the same vibe as what Halford did on this track. It sounds like he’s just monotonously read-singing it out of a book of hymns. There’s no passion, no emotion, it’s just a complete run of the mill performance. As this is my favorite Dio song of all, I am completely appalled that such a thrilling number turned out to be a total nightmare. There’s no excuse for this…”

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