Last In Line Heavy Crown cd review
On August the 20th 1983 I consider myself blessed that I witnessed the first ever live performance at the Monsters Of Rock Festival at Donington race circuit of Dio.
Their was magic in the air as they went though a set of Rainbow and Black Sabbath hits and selected tracks from their soon to be released Holy Diver cd and to this day it is in my top 3 gigs of all time and the deluxe cd version with the Donington set is a regular visitor and I still remember the day like it was yesterday.
After the sad death of Ronnie James Dio back in 2010 and a casual jam back in 2011,the remaining 3 members of that classic Dio line up Vivian Campbell on guitar,Jimmy Bain on bass and Vinny Appice have now developed into a fully fledged recording line up under the name of Last in Line after the second Dio cd.
On August the 11th 2013 the band with Andrew Freeman(formerly of Hurricane and Lynch Mob) on vocals stopped over in the UK and at Islington Academy produced a feast for any Dio fan with songs from the first 3 classic Dio albums.The chemistry on stage was incredible and as a huge fan of Vivian and in my opinion seeing him underused in his day with Def Leppard it was fantastic seeing him laying down stunning solo after stunning solo.
On February the 19th on Frontiers Records Srl Last In Line release their debut cd Heavy Crown and for me they have captured the spirit of the original material perfectly and with a style that showcases individual qualities as well as a band unity.
The first thing to say is Andrew Freeman is no Ronnie James Dio but then no one is.Having a mere copycat would have been totally the wrong thing to do and in Freeman they possess a front man and vocalist who can stand on his own two feet.As he is in the live setting he has a fantastic range and real power and passion in his vocal and anyone new to Andrew Freeman will be mightily impressed.
The rhythm team are back in sync and obviously enjoy playing with each other and Vinny has lost no power and is the driving force on a number of tracks all in his trademark style with plenty of fills!!And after a lengthy break great to have Jimmy Bain back doing what he does best!!
Of course all eyes will be on Vivian and he doesn't disappoint.Not just a number 2 guitarist but the main man and he peels off riff after riff with a tone very similar to back in the day and his soloing shows how good he is.Always melodic and again sounding uncannily like the classic albums and for that we should be grateful and just lay back and listen to a man who deserves to be mentioned with the very best.
Big kudo's go to Jeff Pilson(ex Dio and Dokken and currently bass with Foreigner) who has done a wonderful job on the production giving it plenty of crunch and clarity to all concerned.
Opener and first single Devil In Me is a great introduction with a big stop start guitar riff from Vivian and Vinny powering it along and if you have seen him in a live show he hit's hard.
Andrew set's his stall out early with a great vocal that shows off his power and range.
It has a great band groove to it with some real power in the guitar riff alongside the vocal.
Vivian's first solo on the album hit's the mark and could have come off any of the early albums and showing it isn't about how many notes you play but how you play them.
Martyr is up next and the pace increases with a chugging guitar riff and Vinny in full flow with added guitar melodies alongside the main riff.Vivian's solo is short but sharp and full of intent welcome back sir.Andrew's vocal is in keeping with the urgency of the track and he excels.
Starmaker is all about the band locking into the groove.Andrew's vocal on the verses is in keeping with the music that is bass and drums and some guitar melodies before increasing dramatically at the chorus.The guitar solo mid song is again up tempo and the band have a end of solo workout that impresses before a end of song outro that features everyone at their musical peak.Drums explode and Vivian adds an extended solo alongside Andrew's howl.Superb and bound to be a live favourite.
Burn This House Down is all stop start riff and Andrew's vocal line has real power and passion before a one line big chorus.Again a live show favourite as you can imagine the lights going off and on to the riff and Andrew mid stage with veins bulging!!Vivian's solo is in keeping with the rhythm team work behind him and shows the band chemistry off to a tee!
I Am Revolution sees the pace increase with a guitar solo to start before the guitar drops out and in the quieter interlude in the verse some great work from Jimmy and Vinny.The guitar is back for the chorus and Vinny's one foot bass work is excellent.
Blame It On Me is an atmospheric stomper with an air of menace and love the extra guitar soloing in the outro and plenty of Vinny fills too.
Already Dead sees another choppy guitar riff as the pace increases with some real band dynamics around the chorus and riff.Mid song it all goes into a drum rhythm part and Vivian soloing over it which gives that part a totally different feel to the main body of the song.
Curse The Day sees an electric guitar intro in a slower paced song that smoulders on the band rhythm and Vivian's guitar melody extra's.Andrew's vocal is understated but in perfect keeping with the song and the lengthy guitar solo shows real control and power.
Orange Glow is a mid tempo band workout with no real stand out until the urgent chorus and attached guitar riff and power drums kick in!!The guitar solo is classic Vivian and early Dio.
Heavy Crown starts as an atmospheric number that really gets going pre chorus.The guitar riff is stop start before as the chorus starts envelops with Vinny's urgent drumming.Andrew's vocal is superb and shows he knows when to reign in and when to go full throttle.Love this track.
The Sickness rounds off the album in style with a one minute band intro before the main riff kicks in and shows off the band dynamics again as it ebbs and flows around the chorus with Andrew again showing off his full range.Brilliant Vivian guitar solo mid song.
Heavy Crown is the sound of a band reliving a glorious past and paying homage to the great man who's name the band had.But also moving forward with new songs and hopefully with live dates in the pipeline a glorious future too.
And for that we should all be thankful.
Last In Line (L-R): Andrew Freeman, Jimmy Bain, Vivian Campbell, Vinny Appice.
Photo Credit: Ross Halfin.