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Metal Monday 12-20-2021

Welcome to a new weekly post that I will call Metal Mondays, where I will rank the albums of a certain artist in the metal and hard rock genre from worst to best.  As I am a list and ranking person, I am unable to have a simple discussion on what a band’s good albums are, as well as their not-so-good ones.  I must rank them in some sort of order, or I will not be able to participate!  This also makes for a fun debate, don’t you think?

NOTE:  I will rank full length STUDIO ALBUMS only.  There will be no live records, greatest hits, or EP’s here.

We’re back to the album rankings this week.  I can think of no musician more fascinating than Ronnie James Dio.  Here is a legend that began his recording career in the infancy of rock and roll in the 1950s.  I am amazed at the number of musicians and classic acts that Dio has played with, from Richie Blackmore with Rainbow to Tony Iommi with Black Sabbath, not to mention those from his solo band.  In this ranking, we will span Dio’s career from Rainbow in 1975, through Sabbath in the early 80’s, and all the way through his solo catalogue. 

# 17: 

Dio-Angry Machines 1996

Recorded near the tail end of the grunge movement, even the great Ronnie James Dio succumbed to the curse that haunted many classic metal musicians by trying to fit into something he was not.  Easily the worst album of his career.

Best Song:  Don’t Tell the Kids

Best Deep Cut:  Don’t Tell the Kids

#16:

Dio-Magica 2000

I may get some flack from some of the diehards with this low ranking, as I find there are some niche Magica fans here.  Dio’s only true concept album, I find much of the record to be plodding and meandering.

Best Song:  Challis

Best Deep Cut:  Challis

#15

Dio-Lock Up the Wolves 1990

Again, not much to write home about when compared to earlier Dio offerings.  This is the record that features then-18-year-old guitarist, Rowan Robertson.

Best Song:  Evil on Queen Street

Best Deep Cut:  Evil on Queen Street

#14

Dio-Strange Highways 1993

A heavy record, I find Strange Highways to fly under the radar a littlePerhaps this is because it came out at the height of grunge.  Jesus Mary and the Holy Ghost and the title track stand up to just about anything in Dio’s catalogue. 

Best Song:  Jesus Mary and the Holy Ghost

Best Deep Cut:  Jesus Mary and the Holy Ghost

#13:

Dio-Master of the Moon 2004

The final Dio solo album was a very good one.  One More For the Road, the title track, and Then End of the World get things off to a strong start, while Living the Lie and In Dreams highlight the second half.

Best Song:  Living the Lie

Best Deep Cut:  Living the Lie 

#12:

Black Sabbath-Dehumanizer 1992

The first reunion to feature Dio and drummer Vinny Appice with Sabbath, Dehumanizer is by far the weakest of the three albums to feature Dio on vocals.  The time together turned out to be short lived, as well. 

Best Song:  Too Late

Best Deep Cut:  Too Late

#11:

Dio-Dream Evil 1987

Guitarist Craig Goldy’s debut with the band has its moments but continues a noticeable downward spiral that started with 1985’s Sacred HeartNight People offers an all-out thrash blitz, while the title cut, and Sunset Superman are worthy of a listen.

Best Song:  Dream Evil

Best Deep Cut:  Night People

#10

Heaven and Hell-The Devil You Know 2009

Sadly, this is the final studio album to feature Ronnie on vocals.  Indeed, this is not a bad way to go out.  Due to Black Sabbath currently working with Ozzy Osbourne, this lineup featuring Dio, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and Vinny Appice went with the moniker, Heaven and Hell to avoid any confusion.  Atom Evil, Bible Black, Double the Pain, Eating the Cannibals, and Follow the Tears are the highlights for me.

Best Song:  Bible Black

Best Deep Cut:  Bible Black

#9: 

Dio-Killing the Dragon 2002

I feel this release does not get nearly enough love as it deserves.  For me personally, coming off two subpar records, Killing the Dragon represents a return to form of sorts.  Listen to the title cut, Along Comes a Spider, Push, and Guilty.

Best Song:  Killing the Dragon

Best Deep Cut:  Killing the Dragon

#8: 

Dio-Sacred Heart 1985

As mentioned above, Sacred Heart proved to be a drop off from the first two Dio albums, and was the final record to feature guitarist, Vivian Campbell.  There are some major highlights that save the record, namely, King of Rock and Roll, Rock ‘n’ Roll Children, and Hungry for Heaven.  Unfortunately, the rest offers too much filler material.

Best Song:  King of Rock and Roll

Best Deep Cut:  Sacred Heart

#7: 

Rainbow-Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll 1978

Dio’s last collaboration with Rainbow and Deep Purple guitarist, Ritchie Blackmore, Long Live Rock and Roll is the weakest of the lot, although there is plenty of solid material in the title track, Lady of the Lake, and the amazing Kill the King.

Best Song:  Kill the King

Best Deep Cut:  Lady of the Lake

#6: 

Black Sabbath-Mob Rules 1981

Dio’s second album with Sabbath is where I began to have trouble ranking the records.  The title cut and The Sign of the Southern Cross are classics.

Best Song:  The Sign of the Southern Cross

Best Deep Cut:  The Sign of the Southern Cross

#5: 

Dio-The Last in Line 1985

It’s hard to imagine that this outstanding record is only number five in this ranking.  That speaks volumes as to the strength of the four other releases above it.  The title cut, We Rock, Evil Eyes, and Egypt (The Chains Are On) are the highlights.

Best Song:  We Rock

Best Deep Cut:  Egypt (The Chains Are On)

#4: 

Black Sabbath-Heaven and Hell 1980

The first and finest Dio-led Sabbath album perhaps saved the doom metal legends’ career.  Side One is a masterpiece, with Neon Nights, Children of the Sea, Lady Evil, and the title cut.  Meanwhile, don’t fall asleep on Side Two.

Best Song:  Neon Nights

Best Deep Cut:  Lady Evil

#3: 

Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow-1975

Deep Purple’s Ritchie Blackmore’s new band, before it shortened its name to simply, Rainbow. Man on the Silver Mountain is the big hit here, however, Black Sheep of the family, The Temple of the King, and If You Don’t Like Rock and Roll secure this album as an all-time Dio-fronted classic.

Best Song:  Man on the Silver Mountain

Best Deep Cut:  Black Sheep of the Family

#2: 

Rainbow-Rising 1976

Dio and Blackmore outdid themselves with the follow up to their debut.  Tarot Woman and Starstruck highlight the first half, while Stargazer and A Light in the Black offer an epic one-two closing punch.

Best Song:  Tarot Woman

Best Deep Cut:  A light in the Black

#1: 

Dio-Holy Diver 1983

Dio’s first solo album is an all-time rock and roll classic, complete with an all-star band of Vivian Campbell on guitar, Jimmy Bain on bass, and Vinny Appice on drums.  The record provides everything, including huge hits, such as the title track and Rainbow in the Dark.  Meanwhile, Stand Up and Shout, Don’t Talk to Strangers, and Straight Through the Heart offers undeniably great deep cuts. 

Best Song:  Holy Diver

Best Deep Cut:  Stand Up and Shout

Great Metal Albums of 1987: Dio- Dream Evil

After what many people thought was the flop of Dio’s third album, “Sacred Heart,” (I never thought it was), all eyes were on the band for their …

Great Metal Albums of 1987: Dio- Dream Evil

Great album. I do believe some sort of Dio/Rainbow ranking should be featured in an upcoming Metal Monday post. Stay tuned!