When I was sent this album to review, I was over the moon! Being a big fan of Dio this was on my ‘to get’ list. Since that day, the sad news of bass legend Jimmy Bain’s passing changed the mood somewhat to sadness.
Here at Rock N Load we all send our deepest sympathy to all Jimmy’s family, friends and band members past and present. The great house band in the sky has just gained another legend up that Stairway to Heaven.
On to the album he left behind.
What began as a casual ‘just for fun’ jam back in 2011, has taken on a life of its own. The band name Last in Line is taking from the 1984 Dio album of the same name. Vivian Campbell on guitars, Vinnie Appice on drums and Jimmy Bain on bass, were the co writers, and the classic line up that recorded the Dio albums ‘Holy Diver’, ‘Sacred Heart’ and ‘Last In Line’. The line up is completed by Andrew Freeman taking on the vocal duties. Initially just playing the Dio tracks live they had recorded many years ago, they ended up having so much fun and after being offered the chance to do a new album by Frontier records, they decided to hit the studio and write some new material.
‘Heavy Crown’ is that result.
You can definitely imagine Ronnie James Dio singing vocals on some of these tracks, I firmly mean that as a compliment to the songwriting, and not a criticism of Andrew Freeman as he does a sterling job fronting the band. It is a classic rock album played by some legends of the era, and of course, not surprisingly considering the talent pool, it sounds very much in the vein of a Dio album.
Lead track and 1st single ‘Devil in Me’ is one of the stand out tracks. I would say there are 5 standout tracks sitting here among the rest, someone else’s standout tracks could easily be a different 5. I’m certainly not saying the rest are fillers, maybe I just totally love the tracks mentioned. A listen to the full album a few times will ensure you make your own mind up.
Track 3 ‘Starmaker’ being another favourite of mine, with its great melody and with Freemans best vocal on the album, is a sure fire radio friendly hit.
‘Blame it on Me’ is where I most hear the classic Dio sound, the great man himself would be proud, looking down on his band giving the devil horns (that some say he invented) standing alongside Jimmy giving him a firm pat on the back for carrying on the legacy.
‘I Curse The Day’ and ‘The Sickness’ are my other standouts that will make it onto (in old money) my mix tape.
‘Heavy Crown’ has the riffage and crystal clear solos from Campbell, the backline and perfect timing from Appice, and at times the almost machine gun speed bass beats from Bain, along with the very capable Freeman on vocals, makes this a solid rock album from start to finish, which does real justice to the two sadly passsed true legends of rock. I really hope they carry on with a bass replacement as the world needs to hear this classic rock songwriting a whole lot more.
If you’re into the Dio albums of old or even a bit of Black Sabbath you will love this album. And the Def Lepperd fans I’m sure, will want to check out Campbell’s latest project. As of course, everyone else should around the world.
Words by Darren Thompson
1. Devil In Me
4. Burn This House Down
5. I Am Revolution
6. Blame It On Me
7. Already Dead
8. Curse Of The Day
9. Orange Glow
10. Heavy Crown
11. The Sickness
Last In Line are -
Vocals – Andrew Freeman
Guitars – Vivian Campbell
Drums – Vinny Appice
Bass - Jimmy Bain