Well worth the effort

Around about twelve months ago I waxed somewhat lyrically about the excellent Deep Purple tribute Re-Machined and how such excellence in the world of tribute albums is usually hard to come by.

Given the eminence of the late Ronnie James Dio in the worlds of rock and metal it could only have been hoped that same level of greatness were to be maintained for Ronnie James Dio – This is Your Life, but alas, that is not to be so. One of the main reasons this collection fails to live up to the standard of Re-machined and a precious few other top-ranking tribute sets is precisely the same reason that album was so special – Metallica. In complete contrast to their somewhat understated and lucid reading of ‘When a Blind Man Cries’ on that album, here they’ve taken a veritable axe to a collection of Rainbow classics and roughly hewn them into a disjointed and overblown medley that fails on pretty much every level. It’s not that the original songs they attempt (‘A Light in the Black’ and ‘Stargazer’ among them) weren’t pompous and bombastic in the first place – they are – it’s just that Metallica simply doesn’t do them any justice by mashing them together the way they have done. The first “half” doesn’t even match up properly with the second, as if they started out deciding to play one thing and then changed their minds part way through, then said, “Yep, we’re done!”

It actually spoils the whole record, which is otherwise a solid tribute to the man who gave so much to heavy metal music. This is Your Life also includes Doro’s brilliant take on ‘Egypt (Chains Are On)’ from an earlier Dio tribute album, Anthrax doing a spot-on version of ‘Neon Knights’, Killswitch Engage’s ‘Holy Diver’ cover and Corey Taylor teaming up with some mates to do ‘Rainbow in the Dark’, with Satchel pulling an epic solo in the middle. Rob Halford’s version of ‘Man on the Silver Mountain’ took some getting used to as it’s the only track on the album – apart from Metallica’s mess – that steps away significantly from the original, with the ancient and clunky intro riff getting bluesified through a wah pedal, but by the end I was sold. Halestorm’s ‘Straight Through the Heart’ is a little overwrought, but perfectly acceptable and it’s great to hear the Scorpions ripping through a rare cover track. Even Tenacious D’s contribution is reverential. Dio’s own track isn’t up to his normal standard, but that’s ok. If only they’d left Metallica off or had the guts to tell them to rein it in a bit, this would have been brilliant. As it is, it’s just very good – and still well worth the effort.

1. Neon Knights – Anthrax
2. The Last in Line – Tenacious D
3. The Mob Rules – Adrenaline Mob
4. Rainbow in the Dark – Corey Taylor with Roy Mayorga, Satchel, Christian Martucci and Jason Christopher
5. Straight Through the Heart – Halestorm
6. Starstruck – Motörhead with Biff Byford
7. The Temple of the King – Scorpions
8. Egypt (Chains are on) – Doro
9. Holy Diver – Killswitch Engage
10. Catch the Rainbow – Glenn Hughes with Simon Wright, Craig Goldy, Rudy Sarzo and Scott Warren
11. I – Oni Logan, Jimmy Bain, Rowan Robertson and Brian Tichy
12. Man on the Silver Mountain – Rob Halford with Vinnie Appice, Doug Aldrich, Jeff Pilson and Scott Warren
13. Ronnie Rising Medley (A Light in the Black/Tarot Woman/Stargazer/Kill the King) – Metallica
14. This is Your Life – Dio