Dio - The Last In Line
The album "The Last In Line", the second by the band "Dio", was released on July 2, 1984.
About a year after the release of their debut album, "Holy Diver", Dio releases their second album which is an almost direct sequel to the debut album released in late May 1983.
As we mentioned in the previous coverage of "Holy Diver" - the debut album, then Dio is the band of legendary singer Ronnie James Dio, who retired from "Black Sabbath" during the mixing of the live album "Live Evil" released in 1982. Dio took drummer Vinnie Appice with him And turned to his old friend from the "Rainbow", bassist Jimmy Bain, to join them in the new band. To complete the band's lineup, Dio added then young and unfamiliar guitarist - Vivian Campbell.
This cohesive and oiled lineup continues on the second album as well, being reinforced by a fifth member, keyboardist Claude Schnell, who was a member of the glam metal band "Rough Cutt". Claude accompanied the band as a hired player during the tour of the album "Holy Diver", and became a full member of the band, during the recording of the album "The Last In Line".
This album continues the winning formula of "Dio" from the previous album, but with some minor changes.
This album is less aggressive than its "older brother". Indeed, Campbell's formidable riffs, virtuoso solos, and guitar harmonies are still present here in full force. Ronnie's voice is as strong, versatile, and dominant as ever, and Appice's solid and aggressive drumming accompanies us on this album as well. But still, this album sounds "light" and more accessible than its predecessor. The songs are less complex and the production much more polished.
Although Claude Schnell was not involved in writing any of the songs on the album and although this album does not have a heavy presence of keyboards, the influence of Claude's membership in the band still hovers over a large part of the songs on the album. This influence of "lightness" by the way, will intensify for the band's next album "Sacred Heart", which was released a year later.
Another minor change that exists in this album in relation to its predecessor, is the emphasis given to the bass roles in the final mix. Examples can be found in the bass line of the song "We Rock", in the track "One Night In The City" or in the slight lashes of Jimmy Bain in the song "Eat Your Heart Out", without a doubt a refreshing addition to the overall sound of the band.
As we have already learned, Dio loves to open albums powerfully.
Similar to "Stand Up And Shout" from the debut album, this album also opens strongly with "We Rock", with Vivian Campbell's sharp riffs, Appice's crazy drumming on the snare, and Jimmy Bain's beating bass.
The band continues to stick to the formula that brought them the dizzying success of the first album, and in the same way, takes care to place the theme song of the album as the second track. "The Last In Line" is perhaps the best song on this album, and it opens with Campbell's melodic and quiet guitar intro that leads us to 2 calm and peaceful verses, in which Dio puts us in a narrow corridor into the intricacies of the song in his philosophical words:
"We're the ship without a storm
The cold without the warm
Light inside the darkness
We're a laugh without a tear
The hope without the fear
We are coming, home"
Then, right after, comes the sentence that reminds us "that we're coming home," and immediately everything explodes inside us with a delightfully heavy with guitar-keyboard riff that is Dio's all-too-familiar stamp. And the bass.... what a line, just so beautiful. And you must not, you simply must not miss Campbell's smart and amazing guitar solo starting at 2:56, without a doubt one of the greatest and best of his career.
We continue with the roller coaster and Dio's heavy breaths with "Breathless". A song is very reminiscent of Dio in the "Rainbow" era built on Vivian Campbell's interesting riffs and Dio's melodic roars. Have we already said bass? Listen to Jimmy Bain here, definitely not technically complex but smart and fun, so good the band decided to bring him forward in the mix this time.
The next track is a song which is as its name implies "I Speed at Night". A classic speed-metal song that shows us the virtuoso abilities of all the musicians in the band.
Closes the first side of the vinyl "One Night in the City". This may sound a bit unusual to you, but we decided to invent a new concept in honor of this song - "Pop-Metal". A catchy and beautiful song that is again built on the ingenious riffs of Vivian Campbell and the dominant singing of Dio.
"Evil Eyes" opens the second side of the vinyl, with classic eighties heavy metal and it's hard not to hear the resemblance to the Dio era in "Black Sabbath", for example in the song "Turn Up The Night", especially in Vivian Campbell's guitar sentences between the lines in the verses.
In "Mystery" we return to Dio's "pop-metal" with a song filled with keyboards in a style that will become more dominant on Dio's next album. Listen to the song "Hungry For Heaven" from the album "Sacred Heart" and you will understand what we are talking about. Dio has created a formula that on the one hand will sound like good "pop" accessible to the MTV generation and on the other hand will stick to the classic metal.
And finally, we came to the icing on the cake, the piece "Egypt (The Chains Are On)" which reminds us of Rainbow's great works from the great era with Dio, with the heavy rhythm and oriental hue - Middle Eastern metal - ah-la "Stargazer". This piece seems to tell the story of the album cover, with the graceful heaviness reserved for this amazing artist. And we can not talk about this amazing song without mentioning the beautiful transition section in the middle of the song starting at 3:12, a melodic and beautiful section that reminds us again how diverse the voice of this immortal singer is. A little unpleasant to say this but the melody in this section really reminds us of the melody of the verses in the song "Susanna" by the pop band "The Art Company", God forbid. Yes, yes, listen to the melody in these bridge and hear the similarities. And note the following figure, the song "Susanna" came out a year before Dio's album was released and was a huge hit, so even if it's not minded theft, it's probably a subconscious effect. Make no mistake, we have no problem with this resemblance, this is Dio in his best, a melody on the verge of pop combined with heavy metal.
For Listening: Spotify, Apple Music