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Dio - "The Very Beast of Dio, Vol. 2" (CD)

Dio - "The Very Beast of Dio, Vol. 2" CD cover image

"The Very Beast of Dio, Vol. 2" track listing:

1. Killing The Dragon
2. Push
3. The Eyes
4. Along Comes A Spider
5. Better In The Dark
6. Fever Dreams
7. Black
8. Feed My Head
9. Shivers
10. Hunter Of The Heart
11. One More For The Road
12. Lord Of The Last Day
13. Electra
14. As Long As It's Not About Love
15. This Is Your Life
16. Metal Will Never Die
17. The Prisoner Of Paradise

Reviewed by on April 22, 2013

"Though these tracks aren't nearly as well known as stuff like 'Rainbow In The Dark' or 'Stand Up And Shout,' they're not without a certain charm of their own — and some of them even nearly match those early masterpieces."

True to its name, "The Very Beast of Dio, Vol. 2" picks up where Rhino Records' 2000 release, "The Very Beast of Dio" left off. But where the first "Very Beast" album featured tracks from hit records like "Holy Diver," "Sacred Heart" and "The Last In Line" (and admittedly the lesser "Lock Up The Wolves" and "Strange Highways"), this album mostly covers the period between between 1996 or so and the Heaven And Hell reunion, during which the hits largely dried up, as did the major label contract.

To say that Ronnie James Dio soldiered on would be an understatement. Though these tracks aren't nearly as well known as stuff like "Rainbow In The Dark" or "Stand Up And Shout," they're not without a certain charm of their own — and some of them even nearly match those early masterpieces.

"Killing The Dragon," for example, features a virtuoso performance from guitarist Doug Aldrich, who'd go on to shred for Whitesnake, as well as a vocal that proves that Dio kept his pipes in primo shape into the dawn of the 21st century. Then there's "Push," which is arguably most well-known tune on this disc, partly owing to the music video that featured Tenacious D as guest stars. It's definitely the most pop-oriented song you'll find here, but damned if your fist won't be pumping in the chorus.

Though the venues were getting smaller, the quality of the musicians in the band was as big as ever. Check out Jimmy Bain's bass work on "Better In The Dark," which almost feels like a Motorhead tune, or Craig Goldy's guitar solo on "Shivers."

That said, the tracks featuring Tracy G, Dio's least-regarded guitarist, from 1996's "Angry Machines" do tend to weigh the album down. It's obvious that the band was trying for something approaching the Sabbath-inspired grunge sound, but "Black" just plods along, and the less said about the piano ballad "This Is Your Life," the better.

The bonus tracks are kind of a mixed bag. Originally intended for use on the unfinished "Magica II," "Electra" is heartfelt, but Dio sounds as though he's struggling with the vocal. His 2010 appearance on David "Rock" Feinstein's "Metal Will Never Die" is slightly better, but the song is pretty corny. Still, the disc ends on a great note with "The Prisoner Of Paradise," which previously appeared on the Japanese edition of "Master Of The Moon," the last Dio studio album to date.

Is this album as essential as the first "Very Beast Of Dio?" Not really, but fans who lost touch with one of metal's greatest voices in the 1990s will likely find much to enjoy in this lesser-known material.

Highs: "Killing The Dragon," "Push" and "Better In The Dark."

Lows: The piano ballad "This Is Your Life" and the plodding "Black."

Bottom line: No, they're not the "greatest hits," but this lesser-known material has a charm of its own.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 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)