Dio - Killing The Dragon

Dio – Killing The Dragon

86 / 100

Even though the sound is vintage Dio, it’s updated enough to be more than a 1984 retread. Modern production techniques keep it fresh and the riffs have a more dirty feel than they did nearly twenty years ago.

Written by: Dangerzone

ALBUM: Killing The Dragon
LABEL: Spitfire Records
SERIAL: SPT-15199-2
YEAR: 2002
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List

LINEUP: Ronnie Dio – vocals * Doug Aldrich – guitars * Jimmy Bain – bass * Simon Wright – drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Killing The Dragon * 02 Along Comes A Spider * 03 Scream * 04 Better In The Dark * 05 Rock & Roll * 06 Push * 07 Guilty * 08 Throw Away The Children * 09 Before The Fall * 10 Cold Feet



2000’s ‘Magica’ was one of Dio’s more poorly received albums, well down there with his 1993 ‘Strange Highways’ disc for dull, plodding metal. Sensibly he has returned to the direct approach found on his first two solo albums ‘Holy Diver’ (1983) and ‘The Last In Line’ (1984).

Out go the ten minute epics and in come the shorter, riff heavy slices of no frills metal. To achieve the classic Vivian Campbell guitar tone Dio has removed Craig Goldy and replaced him with veteran Doug Aldrich (Lion, Hurricane, Bad Moon Rising, Burning Rain) who makes all the difference.

Dio old timers Bain and Wright are still there and keyboardist Scott Warren is credited with a great organ solo in ‘Before The Fall’. With a seasoned lineup like this it’s refreshing to see even a weary soldier like Dio is still capable of producing classic material.

The Songs

Even though the sound is vintage Dio, it’s updated enough to be more than a 1984 retread. Modern production techniques keep it fresh and the riffs have a more dirty feel than they did nearly twenty years ago.

The title cut is first, with Dio’s usual fantasy lyrics, but this time they play second fiddle to the music. It’s ‘go for broke’ immediately, typical galloping riffs not unlike Iron Maiden in sections. Hefty soloing ensues from Aldrich, clearly here to steal the show.

‘Scream’ is straight from 83, bludgeoning heaviness with melody and an Aldrich solo which apes Campbell’s ‘Last In Line’ effort. ‘Better In The Dark’ is a modern day companion piece to ‘Stand Up And Shout’ and ‘I Speed At Night’, very fast and concise with appropriate speedy riffing. As good as metal gets in 2002.

‘Rock And Roll’ starts as a Led Zeppelin inspired epic but loses that feel once Dio’s ubiquitous vocals kick in. Deliberately slow and heavy, the chorus is a chanted masterpiece that reminds one of the Rainbow glory days of the 70’s. The single ‘Push’ is commercial enough with it’s accessible chorus, but due to the constant bias against metal, it will never get any airplay.

‘Guilty’ could almost pass for AOR with it’s harmonised hook-line and keyboard fills, smooth melodic metal. ‘Throw Away Children’ is noteworthy for it’s use of a children’s choir, a very dated manoeuvre, but which makes it all the more great.

‘Before The Fall’ is dominated by some 70’s organ styled work by Scott Warren, very Deep Purple-ish saving an unmemorable cut with a flat melody. ‘Cold Feet’ could pass for 80’s hard rock with it’s rhythm, a big difference in the riffs compared to other tracks, more Status Quo than Iron Maiden.

In Summary

‘Killing The Dragon’ has received unanimous praise from all quarters since it’s release, all justified. It succeeds because it is simple. It has heavy riffs, essential choruses and does not go on tangents. This is heads and shoulders above the latest Manowar album. Where that band were fussy with their arrangements, Dio goes straight for it.

I’m not sure how old Dio really is, but he’s still got the fire. What is encouraging is that heavy metal can still produce the odd moment of class from time to time. That it takes a legend like Dio to show how it’s done is a sad commentary on today’s acts. What’s sadder is that he and his fellow chums have never been replaced and never will. An essential purchase for any metal fan.


Killing The Dragon (Live)

Dio -Killing The Dragon Live In New York 2002

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