On August 13, 1985, "Dio" released their third album "Sacred Heart".
This is the band led by the legendary singer Ronnie James Dio, with their third album in three years.
The line-up from the previous two albums is also preserved here and includes drummer Vinnie Appice who retired with Dio from "Black Sabbath" while performing the mixes for the "Live Evil" album in 1982, bassist Jimmy Bain, Dio's friend from "Rainbow" and the guitarist, who was young and unknown at the time - Vivian Campbell. During the tour of the first album, Dio added keyboardist Claude Schnell, who was a member of the glam metal band "Rough Cutt", as a paid musician. Claude became a full member of the band during the recording of the album "The Last In Line" and he continues with the band on this album as well.
In this album, Dio continues the mesmerizing music line of previous albums and at the same time deepens his exploration for more accessible and friendly materials that are meant to win the heart of the masses.
As you may recall, the previous album "The Last In Line" already sounded less aggressive and immature than its older brother "Holy Diver". Campbell's formidable riffs, Ronnie's powerful voice, and Appice's solid, aggressive drumming were there, but "The Last In Line" still sounded "lighter" and more accessible than its predecessor, with less complex songs and much more sleek production.
This search for mainstream catchy tunes continues here as well and the dominance of keyboardist Claude Schnell is growing. Claude was not involved in writing any of the songs on this album, but as on the previous album, his presence hovers over a large portion of them and is well felt in the production.
What sets this album apart from the previous two albums is indecision. Dio tries to enjoy both worlds and it does not necessarily help him. On the one hand, he tries to stay true to the DNA that characterized the masterpiece "Holy Diver", and on the other hand to go for more melodic and lighter tracks that will expose him to a new audience and make him accessible to radio stations and MTV. So it turns out, on the one hand, we get songs like "Like the Beat of a Heart", "King of Rock and Roll" and the theme song "Sacred Heart" which somehow try to preserve the formula from the first album, and on the other hand we have "Rock 'n' Roll Children" and "Hungry for Heaven" which feature lighter compositions that are deliberately designed to please the masses, in order to push" Sacred Heart "into the mainstream charts.
But the inconsistency is not the big problem of this album, as even the "lighter" songs sound good with Dio's immortal voice. The problem with this album is that, unlike the previous two albums, this time Dio failed to maintain a high level of writing throughout the album, with songs like "Fallen Angels" and "Shoot, Shoot" significantly falling short of the level of musical material Dio managed to produce in the first two albums. It seems that the desire to ride on the momentum of the previous two albums and produce a third album, as soon as possible, was not in Dio's favor. It seemed that Ronnie had to take the time and wait a bit with the third album, until writing material that would maintain a uniform and high level throughout, as was done in the first two albums, and not succumb to the pressure of the management and the record company.
At the same time, despite the lack of uniformity in the level of writing and composition, this is a fun and good album from the classic Dio era. Songs like "Sacred Heart", "King of Rock and Roll", "Rock 'n' Roll Children" and "Hungry for Heaven" Make it a must-have album in the music library of fans of the genre.
It is interesting to note that in this album as in the previous two albums, the opening song is very fast, rhythmic, and strong ("King of Rock and Roll") and is always followed by the theme songs of each of the albums. The theme songs are also always the more complex songs in terms of composition compared to the rest of the album songs.
Sadly guitarist Vivian Campbell, who no doubt fit into this lineup like a glove, was fired by Dio in the middle of a tour that supported the album. A few years ago drummer Vinnie Appice leaked some details about the circumstances of Campbell's dismissal and noted that Dio made a mistake when he fired him because in doing so the band lost part of its musical identity. Jimmy Bain said similar things and we tend to agree with the two. Campbell had a significant influence on the sound and musical style of the band and after his departure, the magic could no longer be restored. It's not that Dio did not have great albums later, but they failed to recreate the band's initial charm with Campbell.
Before Campbell was fired from the band, he and his bandmates participated in the "Hear 'n Aid" project, which aimed to raise money for the famine in Africa. The project was a kind of an answer of heavy metal artists to "Live Aid" which took place in 1985. Dio, Campbell, and Bain wrote and composed the song "Stars", which was performed by the leading artists in heavy metal at the time.
Another song worth mentioning is "Hide In The Rainbow" which was written by Dio and Jimmy Bain more or less at the time and was first released as part of the soundtrack of the movie "Iron Eagle". The song was not included on any of the band's albums, until the release of the deluxe version of this album on 2012.