When considering who the best metal front men of all time are, Ronnie James Dio is certainly one of the forerunners. Dio was without a doubt one of the artist responsible for COMPLETELY changing the face and soul of the genre. Initially, I thought that This Is Your Life was an album comprised of b-sides, rarities and other rare material that people hadn’t heard. I was not expecting a tribute album, but that wasn’t a disappointment in the slightest, as the album is a fantastic remembrance of a true pioneer of the rock/metal industry.
This Is Your Life opens with Anthrax performing “Neon Knights.” Joey Belladonna and Scott Ian are no strangers to Dio’s history and music and Joey does an amazing rendition of this song. The energy in his voice honestly reminds me of Dio himself. “The Mob Rules” is covered by Adrenaline Mob (see what they did there?) and these boys bring the noise! Being comprised of Symphony X and Dream Theater members, Adrenaline Mob have a pedigree that’s custom built for a song that rocks this hard and rock they do! One of Dio’s best known songs, “Rainbow In The Dark” is covered by Corey Taylor, front man of Slipknot and Stone Sour. I am a huge fan of Corey’s vocals, he can belt out a song like he was born to do it and this song proves that he was put here just for that. The music flows similar to modern metal but has a classic feel that can only come from the time it was originally conceived, and this rendition does so much justice to the classic.
Halestorm, fronted by Elizabeth “Lzzy” Hale, take up the reigns on “Straight Through The Heart” and honestly, there isn’t anyone else in modern music who could’ve done this song better than Hale. Sure, that says a lot, but so does her performance. It’s a brilliant moment on an already noteworthy album. For all those Lemmy fans out there, Motorhead makes an apperance with Biff Byford of Saxon on the vocals. Anyone who knows Saxon or Motorhead already knows that this will be a classic metal collaboration and you will not be disappointed. Lemmy provides the backing vocals while Biff takes center stage on the song, belting out his classic Yorkshire heavy metal sound. Killswitch Engage covered “Holy Diver” a few years back, but being one of Dio’s most well known songs, it only makes sense that it again appears on This Is Your Life. Initially, there were mixed reviews about the Killswitch version of the Dio classic, but in the context of this record, its inclusion makes sense.
Not to overlook some of the lighter tracks that Dio produced throughout his career, Glenn Hughes takes on “Catch The Rainbow.” He gently croons the tune of lost love and the futility of human mortality. But perhaps my favorite song on the album (and maybe a bit of a guilty pleasure) is performed by one of my metal idols, Rob Halford. He takes on “Man On The Silver Mountain” and yes, it is that good that I had to pick it from this culmination of sheer awesomeness! Rob performs this song with Doug Aldrich and Jeff Pilson along with Vinny Appice and Scott Warren, both who frequently collaborated with Dio himself. On an interesting side note, Rob was awarded recognition for his work in both metal and the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout cancer foundation. The award that Rob was presented with was aptly titled, The Man On The Silver Mountain.
In summary, this is probably the best album I’ve heard so far in 2014, and it is going to take a lot to beat that standing. If you’re a fan of Dio, any of the above mentioned bands or even just love the classic heavy metal sound, do yourself a favor and pick up this record. It’s an epic tribute to the life, music and man that was Ronnie James Dio and the 53 years of metal magic that he provided to the world.