Dio – Strange Highways (1994)

dio_strangehighways4.5 out of 5 Stars!

This album is, in a single word…Killer!

After acclaimed vocalist Ronnie James Dio’s second short stint with Black Sabbath for 1992’s generally ignored (and terrific) Dehumanizer album, he resurrected his own band with a new batch of musicians and released his sixth studio album, which (to me) is just as powerful and riff-heavy as the Sabbath release, thanks in large part to underrated guitarist Tracy Grijalva.

For some unknown reason, however, a lot of Dio fans maligned this particular “comeback” album, but I, for one, loved and embraced it, placing it near the top of my list of “All-Time Best Dio Releases,” and it still remains one of my “most played” Dio albums. With dark, hammering, and bombastic metal tracks such as “Firehead,” “Pain,” “Here’s To You,” “Hollywood Black,” and “Evilution,” how could it not? Also included on this release is the eerie, atmospheric (Sabbath-like) title track, along with the similar metal ballad “Give Her a Gun.” Then there’s “One Foot in the Grave” and “Bring Down the Rain” (which could both have easily been excerpts from Dehumanizer), and the opening track, “Jesus, Mary and the Holy Ghost,” which comes off as a wildly demented, metal version of King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man.” A tad odd, yes, but heavy as hell.

RIP Ronnie James Dio…your vocal performances on this album will remain extraordinary—simply “metal perfection”—for all time and your talent is missed daily!

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