Review by Carl Pickles
I know what you’re thinking… who the Hel is David “Rock” Feinstein, and how did he get Ronnie James Dio to record a vocal for his album?
Well, Feinstein was the original lead guitar player in Elf (before being replaced by Steve Edwards, who as we all know was eventually replaced by Ritchie Blackmore), is currently with The Rods and is Ronnie James Dio’s cousin.
The next question is “What’s he sound like?” The answer has to be “pretty good”. The first track, Smoke On The Horizon barges out of your speakers like something Judas Priest would have recorded in the mid 80’s. That’s especially evident in the chugging riffs and melody lines that soar over the top of them. There’s even a slight Halford-ness to the vocal phrasing (although the ozone-layer piercing screams and trademark sneer are replaced with an grittier, distorted vocal). That feeling carries on throughout the early part of the album.
That changes with Metal Will Never Die, the last song recorded by Ronnie James Dio before his untimely death. It’s a bravura performance from Dio and a powerful song. The song’s chorus line of “I am Metal and I’ll never die/We are Metal and we will never die”, is oddly poignant, and it is a standout. After the Dio soundalike, Kill The Demon, Feinstein cranks the pace back up for the headsdown charge of Rocks Boogie, Give Me Mercy and Run For Your Life. Anyone who doesn’t at least nod along to Run For Your Life needs to seriously question their musical choices!
Rounding out the album is Gambler Gambler, which I have to admit I was a little disappointed by. For me, it just doesn’t work. Feinstein sounds to be straining vocally, and although the solo (like everywhere else on the album) is really rather good, the rest of the song is a bit of a let down. That really is a shame, since it may well be the last song Ronnie Dio ever had a hand in writing.
On the whole, a very enjoyable album. It does Rock with a capital “R”. The last appearance of Ronnie Dio has given this album a bit of a boost. I’d never have heard of it if it wasn’t for that, and if that had been the case, I’d’ve missed a bit of a gem.