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6 Degrees Entertainment

Title - 'Ronnie James Dio - This Is Your Life' (Rhino)
Artist - Various

To celebrate one of rock's most powerful voices, an all-star group of his friends and fans recorded 13 of their favorite tracks for a tribute album that will raise funds for the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund.

Produced by his longtime manager and wife Wendy Dio, the album includes contributions by such metal heavyweights as Metallica, Motörhead, Scorpions, Anthrax, and Rob Halford, as well as appearances by many of the musicians who performed with Dio over the years.

The highly-anticipated album kicks off in grand style with Anthrax bringing us ‘Neon Knights.’ A track that fairly bursts through the speakers, it actually does more to enhance the harmonies of the American thrash metal band than anything else. A fantastic track to begin musical proceedings, Anthrax nail it perfectly. Tenacious D bring it next and all in their usual satirical style with ‘The Last In Line.’ Once the slow intro has been stated Jack Black deepens his tone and gets down to Ten D business. Next up is ‘The Mob Rules’ from Adrenaline Mob, which actually is so reminiscent of the original it’s scary!

Along next is ‘Rainbow In The Dark’ from the mixture of Corey Taylor, Jason Christopher, Christian Martucci, Roy Mayorga and Satchel. Taylor’s vocals are near pitch-perfect for this song and his crew back him to the musical hilt and back. It’s quite a furiously recreated sound, that’s for sure. Then comes Halestorm’s drum thumping version of ‘Straight Through The Heart,’ which allows Lzzy Hale's voice to shine like a beacon of light through the musical darkness.

Up next is ‘Starstruck’ from the always-great Motorhead with Saxon’s Biff Byford along for the ride. And wow, what an incredible sound this track turns out to be. A heavy rock gem is unearthed by Lemmy and his crew and therefore makes it one of the best tracks on this new compilation, in my mind, at least. Scorpions get to do their thing here also when they enhance ‘The Temple Of The King’ in fine style, and that’s backed by a seductively-sung ‘Egypt (The Chains Are On)’ from the delicious female music God, Doro.

‘Holy Diver’ by Killswitch Engage is next and as much as I had hoped they could have broken free from their death metal vocal spirals, their usual sound does punish this track more than it deserves, in truth. Then comes the guitar masterpiece ‘Catch The Rainbow’ from the collective: Glenn Hughes, Craig Goldy, Rusty Sarzo, Scott Warren and Simon Wright, which is itself backed by a smaller collective of Oni Logan, Jimmy Bain, Rowan Robertson and Brian Tichy on the always-powerful ‘I.’

Another gathering in the form of Rob Halford, Doug Aldrich, Vinny Appice, Jeff Pilson and Scott Warren then collectively bring us a simply riveting ‘Man On The Silver Mountain.’ Albeit, in truth, Halford’s voice isn’t strong enough for the lead on, as he seems to be sleepwalking his way through the song! That said, and in all other respect, this truly incredible tribute album is then brought to a close with a ‘Ronnie Rising Medley’ from Metallica. Featuring a medley of ‘A Light in the Black,’ ‘Tarot Woman,’ ‘Stargazer’ and ‘Kill the King’ it is a great musical melting pot of all-things Ronnie whilst all being accompanied by some blistering guitar work from James Hetfield and co. The final track is Dio doing their quietly-subtle thing for the title track, ‘This Is Your Life,’ and a lovely way to close out a musical tribute if ever I heard one.

Reviewed by: Russell A. Trunk

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