The latest in the seemingly never-ending line of Dio tribute acts comprised of ex-colleagues of the great man, Dream Child might just have snuck up on the inside to take the lead in the ‘most like Classic Dio’ stakes…
The key to this is vocalist Diego Valdez, of Argentinian metallists Helker.
Put simply, whilst Ronnie Romero (Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow) Ripper Owens, Toby Jepson (both Dio Disciples), and Andrew Freeman (Last in Line) are all more than capable singers in their own right, none have managed to capture the pure essence of RJD quite as well as Valdez on storming tracks like You Can’t Take Me Down.
His phrasing, his throaty ‘allrights!’, his timbre are all just totally spot on – goosebump inducing even. Add to this Rudy Sarzo’s rumbling, stentorian bass work – pure Bain – and Simon Wrights’s Appiceesque drum avalanches and you have the perfect recipe for a night of rip-roaring Dio-themed fun.
Guitarist Craig Goldy – the Dream Child himself, so christened by the great man when he was Dio’s guitarist – hasn’t sounded this vital in years either. He’s come up with a veritable smorgasbord of classic rock and metal riffs all over the album, every one as good as the last and every one guaranteed to prompt the breaking out of air guitar mayhem whenever they’re cranked loud and proud – which should be often.
Games of Shadows is a Zeppelin-styled strutter, whilst the rock-steady Playing With Fire adds radio-friendly keyboards and backing vocals to give a Whitesnake/Badlands feel to proceedings. Needless to say, this is a more than welcome diversion.
Valdez truly is a revelation throughout, and if occasionally he does dip into the world of tribute band copycatism, as a listener you’ll be happy to overlook the slip ups, which are far outweighed by the sheer skill of the delivery.
Light of the Dark, as it’s title might suggest is more epic and seventies in feel, taking Stargazer as a launch pad for sure but still retaining it’s own identity and flavour. The album’s standout track, Washed Upon the Shore, whilst owing a lot to Kansas’ Magnum Opus in the introductory instrumental piece, is an absolutely titanic piece of progressive metal that anyone calling themselves a fan of old school hard rock simply has to hear. For all that, keyboardist Wayne Findlay is the hero of the day on this track, his superb organ outbursts crowning even Goldy’s riffage.
One clunker aside (the too-quirky-for-my-liking Weird World), it’s hard to find fault with this record beyond the obvious ‘oh no, not another Dio offshoot album’ gripes. Superbly imagined, faultlessly executed and thrillingly sung, this might well be the best Dio offshoot of the lot. More power to them.
Until Death Do We Meet Again is released on September 14th.