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Jorn - "Dio" (CD)

Jorn - "Dio" CD cover image

"Dio" track listing:

1. Song For Ronnie James
2. Invisible
3. Shame On The Night
4. Push
5. Stand Up And Shout
6. Don't Talk To Strangers
7. Lord Of The Last Day
8. Night People
9. Sacred Heart
10. Sunset Superman
11. Lonely Is The Word/Letters From Earth
12. Kill The King
13. Straight Through The Heart (Live)

Reviewed by on September 20, 2010

"Jorn's 'Dio' is a near-perfect tribute to one of heavy metal's founding fathers. It's a reminder of the loss we suffered this year, and of the decades of music, brilliance and joy that Ronnie James Dio gave us."

Jorn Lande has said that he's sorry that his hero, Ronnie James Dio, died before he got to hear "Song For Ronnie James," the single and lead-off track from "Dio," his tribute to the late, great Black Sabbath frontman. I'm sorry that Ronnie didn't get to hear the versions of his songs that populate the rest of the album, which provide an even better tribute to the metal legend than Lande's heartfelt words do.

For the record, I never bought the idea that Lande was somehow trying to "cash in" on the death of one of his idols, and the fact that the surviving members of Heaven & Hell picked Lande to co-front the band with Glenn Hughes at the High Voltage festival this summer would seem to bear that out. The head of Lande's label says the album was actually in the works since last year. Not that any of that matters a damn bit once you hit "play."

"Song For Ronnie James" begins with a synthesizer swell that could've come right off of "Holy Diver," segues into a "Children Of The Sea"-style acoustic intro and then commences with the chunky metal riffing. Even the most jaded among us will no doubt wave our lighters to this ode to the heavy metal prophet, even if some of the references to his works are a little much. Name-checked are "Rainbow In The Dark" and "Children Of The Sea," with lyrical snippets cribbed from other Dio-penned tunes.

With Lande's words of tribute out of the way, the main event begins, and I have to say that I was pretty thrilled that deeper cuts like "Invisible" and "Shame On The Night" are featured, rather than a "greatest hits" approach. You know when you see tracks like "Lord Of The Last Day" from "Magica," and "Push" from "Killing The Dragon," that this is meant for the fans.

There are moments on tracks like "Stand Up And Shout" and "Straight Through The Heart" that will make the hairs on your neck stand up, with Lande perfectly replicating Dio's higher-range vocals. At the same time, I'm mostly happy that Lande didn't just go for straight covers, instead going for something more adventurous on the Black Sabbath mash-up of "Lonely Is The Word" and "Letters From Earth" (which also includes bits of "Sign Of The Southern Cross" and "Children Of The Sea," for those keeping score).

On the other hand, there are some moments in which the changes Lande and his band make to the song are a bit much. In particular, the keyboard flourishes on "Sacred Heart" are overwhelming and take the listener right out of the song. I also found myself wishing the band had chosen to play it straight with the Rainbow classic "Kill The King," rather than eliminating Ritchie Blackmore's superb guitar intro (which does show up elsewhere in the song).

I have to say that the playing on this album by guitarists Tor Erik Myhre, Jgor Gianola and Tore Moren is nothing short of amazing, particularly in giving songs from Dio's solo career just a smidgen of extra heaviness.

Jorn's "Dio" is a near-perfect tribute to one of heavy metal's founding fathers. It's a reminder of the loss we suffered this year, and of the decades of music, brilliance and joy that Ronnie James Dio gave us.

Highs: "Stand Up And Shout," "Lonely Is The Word/Letters From Earth" and "Straight Through The Heart."

Lows: The overblown keyboards on "Sacred Heart," a minor quibble with changes to "Kill The King."

Bottom line: A superb tribute to one of metal's greatest voices.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)