Album Review: This Is Your Life: A Tribute to Ronnie James Dio

817plRru3PL._SL1425_This year, an all-star tribute album celebrating the music of the late, great Ronnie James Dio was released. “This is Your Life” features 13 classic Dio songs ranging from his time in Rainbow to his beloved solo work. The album was released as a means to raise money for the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up And Shout Cancer Fund. 100% of proceeds from this album will go to the foundation and it was produced by his longtime manager and wife Wendy Dio.

Tribute albums are always iffy to me. They are always a mixed bag for me and in the case of Dio, I was going to go through this one with a fine toothed comb. Just right off the bat, there aren’t really any musical surprises which disappointed me. A lot of the songs focused on Ronnie’s time in Rainbow and in Black Sabbath. The solo songs from his Dio career are nothing surprising which almost makes me wonder if these people were even true fans of his work or just casual fans that claim to be fans. I mean, I could think of so many classic Dio songs I would’ve loved to have heard covered but then again, I’m a fan of the obscure. No Elf? Pft, whatevs.

Anyways, I decided to give this album’s songs very attentive listens and then record my thoughts on each song. Here they are. Take it for what it is or just leave it behind but again, these are my opinions.

Neon Knights – Anthrax
4/5 Not Men

Anthrax fucking nailed the fuck out of this song but it’s pretty much note for note and played to a “t.” Hearing lead singer Joey Belladonna belting out this song really shows us just how much Dio influence is behind this guy. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Anthrax is a fucking amazing band and this was an awesome tribute to the late, great Ronnie James Dio that would have made him proud without a doubt. I’m just glad that they chose to do something other than “Heaven and Hell.” Great way to open this album.

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The Last in Line – Tenacious D
5/5 Picks of destiny

Kyle Glass opens this one with a spot on acoustic intro but let’s face it… Jack Black for the motherfucking win. How this guy never made it as a metal singer is beyond me. His delivery on this song is so fucking stellar and it had me throwing horns and moshing with my fucking dog. I love the fact that there was a fucking flute solo instead of a guitar solo. Again, you can’t escape the magic and the power of the D. They owned the fuck out of this song and as of now just may have the best song on this album.

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The Mob Rules – Adrenaline Mob
3/5 Big headed drummers

Much like the Anthrax version of “Neon Knights”, this song is pretty much note for note all the way down to the solo but with all that busy fucking drumming. That shit needs to stop. What really makes this song for me is without a doubt the vocals of the mighty Sir Russell Allen. That man can do no fucking wrong in my book and even fronting this shitty fucking band he still manages to blow me away with his voice alone. This was a very faithful tribute but if I wanted to really listen to this song, I’d listen to the real thing over this one any day.

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Rainbow In The Dark – Corey Taylor, Roy Mayorga, Satchel, Christian Martucci, Jason Christopher
3/5 Drumming Clowns

I fucking hate Slipknot and I think that Corey Taylor is a grade A douchebag but I have to give it to him on this song. Taylor did a fucking decent job and his little crew of clowns took this song and turned into something different. I really liked how they replaced the keyboards with a guitar and down tuned it a little bit to give it that dag nasty heaviness. I was really pleasantly surprised by this one but quickly found myself getting bored and tired of Taylor’s voice. It wasn’t horrible by any means but it wasn’t mind blowing in the least.

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Straight for the Heart – Halestorm
2/5 Flat chested singer chicks that look like Tom Keifer

AHHHH. Kill this with fire! The only reason this song got a “2” is that they knew how to play the fucking song and the chick has a pretty decent voice (even if it is auto tuned to death). This song just sounds terrible. It sounds so digital, flat, and lifeless. There’s no soul, no feel to this at all. It sounds like they literally learned this song just to make it on this album. I’m sure their hearts are in the right place and all but this band just fucking sucks. This is everything that is wrong with metal these days. Kids here this crap and think that they’re hearing metal. Hearing this band try and cover Dio just solidifies the fact that they are about as metal as Avenged Sevenfold and that is NOT AT ALL.

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Starstruck – Motörhead with Biff Byford
5/5 Aces in Denim and Leather

HOLY FUCKING SHIT. Motorhead fronted Biff Byford? How could this shit NOT fucking rule? I was loving every fucking minute of this one. They nailed the fuck out if it and I love it that it just sounds like what it is: Motorhead fronted by the motherfucker from Saxon. This is the kind of shit that I know that Ronnie would be looking at and shaking his head and laughing with delight. Legends paying tribute to a fallen brother with a lot of heart, a lot of soul, and a lot of fun. Take note Halestorm. This is how it’s done.

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Temple of the King – Scorpions
5/5 Winds of change

Um, FUCK YES! HAHA. I don’t know what it is but when I saw the Scorpions were going to be on this album I immediately said, “I bet they cover “Temple of the King.” Listening to this version of this classing song gave me goose bumps. These classic dudes know how to fucking do it. The Scorpions paid tribute to Dio by taking this Rainbow classic and turning it into one of the greatest Scorpions songs of all time. It is an absolutely gorgeous tribute and again, they made it all their own while still paying the highest of respects. The Scorpions fucking nailed it and as of now have the best song on the album hands down.

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Egypt(The Chains Are On) – Doro
5/5 Studded Bras

“Egypt” is a song that Doro has been doing for many years and she owned this song. Many have called her the female Dio and Ronnie himself was a huge fan and good friend of Doro’s. Doro, much like the Scorps, took this song and put her own touch on it making it pretty much a Doro Pesch classic. I would’ve loved to have seen them include another song as I’ve heard this one so much but hey, beggars can’t be choosy right?

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Holy Diver – Killswitch Engage
0/5 Hot Topic Emo Kids

Taking a classic Dio song and adding your own touch to it is something I highly encourage… as long as you’re not a shitty scream Hot Topic band. How in the hell could anyone listen to this song and think that this was any good. Killswitch Engage, turn over your guitars, turn over your drums, and leave the fucking hall. NO MORE METAL FOR YOU! Go away and quit putting your reverse Midas touch on great songs. This shit sucks.

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Catch the Rainbow – Glenn Hughes, Simon Wright, Craig Goldy, Rudy Sarzo, Scott Warren
5/5 Rails of cocaine

Glenn Hughes is the voice without a doubt. Hughes took this song and infused it with so much soul that it literally gave me chills and goosebumps. Once again, leave it to the masters to understand the concept of how to truly pay tribute to an untouchable classic song without leaving a shit smear on its pristine face. “Catch the Rainbow” is a timeless song and this rendition of this song just not only preserved and captured its beauty but it also added a new element of beauty to it that just carries it into a whole new generation. This was just flawless.

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‘I’ – Oni Logan, Jimmy Bain, Rowan Robertson, Brian Tichy
1/5 Dio Cover Bands

So what we have here is pretty much another “all-star” line up. Whenever I see these line ups like this the first thing I think of are those cheesy ass Cleopatra Records “tribute” albums where they’d have all these guys from different failed bands paying “tribute” for pay to a particular artist. This particular version of the Sabbath classic “I” I find to be pretty much note for note and while Oni Logan does a great job on the vocals it just comes across as lifeless and emotionless. It just sounds like a bunch of great players with a great singer going through the motions. It’s still far better than that Killswitch Engage shit but again, it just feels flat and lifeless to me. It’s not a hard listen by any means but completely forgettable.

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Man on the Silver Mountain – Rob Halford, Vinny Appice, Doug Aldrich, Jeff Pilson, Scott Warren
1/5 Painkillers

Here we go with another one of those “all-star” lineups. Oh my where to begin? If you would’ve told me 30 years ago that one of the greatest voices of metal, Rob Halford would turn out to be a flat, lifeless, sour note singing joke I would’ve hit you for just even thinking that. I know that Halford over the years has lost his range but this particular song shows that he has not only lost his range but he’s lost any ounce of life that he ever had. His delivery is so piss poor that he might as well have just been reading the lyrics aloud in his speaking voice. The only really good thing about this song is the great guitar playing of Doug Aldrich but even that can’t save this travesty. What a fucking waste of tape. This was just painful.

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Ronnie Rising Medley (“A Light In The Black”, “Tarot Woman”, “Stargazer”, “Kill The King”) – Metallica
4/5 Band Therapists

Ok, so I have to say. I was pleasantly surprised at this little medley. First off, it’s a sad day on planet Earth when it’s a shock that Metallica does something that doesn’t suck. This medley was really well thought out and they chose some great Dio songs from his past Rainbow catalog. The drums even sound fucking good on this one which made me double take. Maybe it’s the fact that coming after that horrendous Rob Halford track that this sounds so good but in all honesty, I dug the hell out of this. It was well played and even Hetfield’s voice sounded great on this one. If only Metallica could use this as a trigger to remind them where they came from and allow them to be the great band that they once were. Honestly, this is the best thing I’ve heard Metallica do in well over 20 years and in a lot of ways just proves to me that they can still do it if they really wanted to. Sadly, they don’t seem to want to but on this track, I’m glad they found it in them to remember and channel their roots.

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This is Your Life – Dio
5/5 Rainbows in the Dark

Amazing song but why include this on a tribute to Dio? I mean, I know it’s an amazingly beautiful song but to have Dio paying tribute to himself just seemed to be kind of corny. Actually, it almost seemed like they ran out of ideas. Again, amazing song but it’s kind of a bad way to end a tribute to Dio.

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All in all, this entire tribute album is a mixed bag. There are some pretty great moments on this album but at the end of the day I feel like this album does little to preserve the legacy of Dio. This album is definitely more about making the money for the cause than it is about the actual impact of Dio’s musical legacy. There are so many great artists that were left out of the mix that I feel would’ve been so much better suited to be a part of this. Where’s Jorn Lande? Where’s Bruce Dickinson? There are so many other acts that should’ve been included that were sadly left out of the loop.

This album was all about business and again, while I understand that the money was going to a good cause, it was all about business. I sadly feel that This Is Your Life cheapened the musical legacy and did little to preserve it or even carry it on in a good light. Do yourself a favor and if you really want to give to the cause, cut the foundation a check for 20 bucks and don’t buy this album. Doing so just supports this kind of concept of quantity over quality and it’s something that I cannot get behind myself.