Last In Line – Heavy Crown

Last In Line – Heavy Crown
Frontiers Records
When Ronnie James Dio passed away, there were many tributes to the iconic metal vocalist. When a group of those who recorded with Ronnie during his most popular and famous period got together, one wondered what to expect – if they were just going to redo the classics or create something in the vein of Ronnie’s music. Guitarist Vivian Campbell, bassist Jimmy Bain, drummer Vinny Appice, and keyboardist Claude Schnell recruited vocalist Andrew Freeman (The Offspring, Lynch Mob) and bestowed the name of the second Dio album on their project. Last In Line unleashes thunderous rock with soaring vocals and thought-provoking lyrics on “Heavy Crown.” While not  trying to mimic Dio’s voice, Andrew is more than talented enough to tribute the vocal master with his powerful pipes, evident right from the first potent strains of “Devil In Me.” The musicians have not lost the capability of wreaking musical havoc; strap yourselves in for explosive tunes like “Martyr” or “I Am Revolution” if you need proof. Viv’s rhythm and solo work are blistering as always, while Vinny and Jimmy drive the rhythm machinery into the megaton range. Claude adeptly adds just the right kiss of keyboards in the perfect locations. The music is crafted well enough to stand on its own as if this was an entirely new act not meant to tribute anyone. Every fan of Dio or heavy music in general will be pumping their fists throughout the twelve tracks here and hoping this is not just a one time project. The future of Last In Line might be questionable. Unfortunately, this CD became a double tribute since bassist Jimmy Bain sadly passed away shortly after performing with Last In Line; doing what he loved best up until the very end. Vivian Campbell has been busy with his “day job” as guitarist for Def Leppard and has been doing all this while fighting cancer like a tiger. The always-in-demand Vinny Appice is involved in several projects including Appice Drum Wars with his brother drummer Carmine. While fans will always hope for more music, there is the satisfaction that these guys released an incredible CD of monster music that has Ronnie and Jimmy banging their heads in approval somewhere in the afterlife.  – MW