A testimonial has become a memorial

In some cases, timing is everything.

Jørn Lande began working on this tribute to his hero early last year, wrote a massive, Dio-esque homage to open it, finally got it done and then, on the eve of its release, the man it is dedicated to died. Now, what should have been a testimonial has become a memorial. The release of Dio (the album) was unfortunately announced the same week that Dio the man passed on, prompting calls from the peanut gallery that this was nothing but a heartless rip-off. Even with today’s studio technology, though, it would be almost impossible to have knocked out an album as great as this in the short time since May 16, and Dio — artwork and all — has been in the can since before that, so arse to that theory.

If ever there was a guy who could successfully pull off a set of Dio covers, Jørn Lande is the man. In fact, with a voice so similar to the master, it would have been almost a disappointment if he hadn’t done this, if not now then at some time in the future. On tracks like “Lonely is the Word”, “Lord of the Last Day” and “Sunset Superman”, Jørn is such a convincing mimic you could be forgiven for thinking you’re listening to Dio himself. Possibly even Dio would have had trouble telling the difference. The resemblance is beyond remarkable: “Sacred Heart” and the live version of “Straight Through the Heart” should rightly give any listener chills.

In helping to lift this to a level of greatness beyond the limit of awesome, Jorn (the band) equal their singer’s phenomonal achievement, doing for the music what he does for the vocals. The guitar team of Tore Moren, Tor Erik Myrhe and U.D.O.’s Igor Gianola step out with some stunning work that sets the songs ablaze. “Song for Ronnie James” is a majestic eight-minute opus that Dio himself could have written, and was intended for him to hear. The real tragedy of this album is that he never got to. The triumph of it is that it’s brilliant.

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)