Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Album Review: Resurrection Kings - Resurrection Kings

Time passes whether we want it to or not. Life marches on, and eventually everything becomes nothing but a memory, destined to live on through our recollections of better times. I feel that way about Ronnie James Dio, who has been gone for far longer than it feels like. It's been long enough, in fact, that we have reached the point where people are no longer listening to Dio merely to pay tribute, but are ready for the surrounding characters to return to the stage to keep the spirit alive. That's where we get to Resurrection Kings, the new project that brings together Criag Goldy and Vinny Appice from the second DIO lineup for the first time since then. So the question I ask myself going into this record is; can DIO members make music that sounds like DIO without being a painful reminder that the man is gone?

I've always thought Craig Goldy got a raw deal. While the first three DIO albums are classics, I consider "Dream Evil" to be every bit as good as any of those, and the similarly Goldy-penned "Master Of The Moon" was the best Dio album after that period. His style wasn't flashy, but his writing was solid, and was certainly better than the period of time when it was becoming sad what DIO had become.

"Distant Prayer" kicks off the album, and immediately showcases a big difference. Goldy's guitar tone is a huge, saturated wall of chords. It certainly makes the band sound big, but I actually don't like it, and much prefer the tighter tone he displayed on "Master Of The Moon", where his playing was more articulated by the relatively light distortion. This almost sounds like he's trying too hard to be metal. That said, the song is a solid track, with a decent riff, and a Dio-esque vocal line from Chas West. In a smart decision, he sounds nothing like Dio, which would have been one step too far into the nostalgia circuit.

"Livin' Out Loud" borrows the chord voicings of "I Could Have Been A Dreamer", but then squanders them on a song that doesn't have much to offer. The main riff is a mess of pinch harmonics, the pace is slow and without a groove, and then the main hook never lifts the track up. It's the kind of song that needs a huge personality to sell it as anything at all, and frankly, these players don't have the charisma or presence to stand out on their own.

We do get some really good tracks here. "Wash Away" and "Who Do You Run To" merge the heaviness and melody in the old DIO fashion, and are very nice throwbacks to the past. The ballad "Never Say Goodbye" is nice, and leads into "Path Of Love" which is easily my favorite song on the record. That's the one where everything comes together, and Goldy's riffing style finally meshes with a melody that can be sung along with.

I can speculate about the good and the bad here. I have a strong feeling that the strongest tracks here are the ones that the band had help in writing, while the ones that they created on their own are the ones that let me down. There's enough difference in the melodic approach to make me think I'm right, and it reveals why I struggle with these kinds of bands. They have the right names and faces from a classic act, but they're missing the key writer that made that music so great. Goldy and Appice might be authentic, but without Dio's ear to guide the songs in the right direction, they aren't strong enough songwriters to make engaging music on their own. And while Chas West does a fine enough job with the vocals, he isn't going to take the reigns and do that for the band.

So what Resurrection Kings have done here is put together an album that keeps the spirit of DIO alive, but reminds us that is will never be replicated, because the beating heart of it is gone. Resurrection Kings' debut is a decent listen, but there's not enough shown here by the band to make me think it will be a lasting endeavor.

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