Paul Gilbert – The Dio Album – Review

Paul Gilbert – The Dio Album – Review

4th April 2023 0 By George Simpson

Since his untimely passing in 2010, there have been many tributes paid top the late great Ronnie James Dio. The latest of these is a full album of his finest work given an instrument treatment by virtuoso guitarist Paul Gilbert. Being a big fan of both for many years standing, this was an album I was eager to hear.  

Judging by the attention to detail on display here, this album is clearly a labour of love for Paul. Each track gets a faithful re-recording, with the majestic vocals swapped for some astonishingly precise guitar work. Such is the minutiae that the vocals have been covered with, even RJD‘s moans and hums are recreated. To achieve such detail proves what a master of his craft Paul Gilbert is.

The track listing covers the full range of Ronnie‘s work, from Rainbow, Black Sabbath through to his eponymously titled band. Reading like a best of, it’s a twelve track monster, classic after classis. Therefore any critique of the quality of material here is obviously pointless. However, as an album, it’s going to fall between two stools with it’s audience. On one hand, fans of guitar shredding will love this, but on the other fans of metal in general will find a full album of noodled covers a bit much. I find myself in the latter category.   

I really enjoyed his last album, 2021’s Werewolves of Portland album, but after listening to this one, I realise that what makes that album so great is its quirky style. Indeed, there were numerous influences, such as rock, jazz, country, you name it, determining it’s style. Here, however, there was no room for such maneuvers as the song and vocals are so locked in. As a result, the novelty of these versions wears off long before the end. Had this been an EP, for example, it could perhaps have benefitted from a less is more approach in comparison.

However, this is by no means a bad album. As if to copy RJD‘s magnum opus, Heaven And Hell, the album races out of the blocks with Neon Knights. As is the case in most of his solo work, the guitar is in effect the vocalist here. If you know the songs as much as I do, the guitar is almost singing to you here, and you have to give a congratulatory nod of the head in appreciation to him for being able to perform that skill. 

The rest of the album progresses in like manner. The arrangements are kept pretty faithful, with none reinventing the wheel as it were. That said, the funky feel that Man On The Silver Mountain gets, while managing not to fully go there, did grab my attention. In addition, it must be pointed out that he never tries to sound like Tony Iommi, or Ritchie Blackmore at any point. It sounds like Paul Gilbert throughout.

Like I said earlier, the novelty, for want of a better word, of hearing instrumental Dio covers wears off by the time the majestic Last In Line brings things to a close. Being a big fan of both PG and Dio had me expecting more from this album. Though it has to be said, he was damned if he did, damned if he didn’t when it came to the arrangements. If all the tracks were reinterpreted he’d have been criticized for doing so, such is the conundrum of tackling an album of other people’s material. 

Whilst I found this a fairly enjoyable album, it’s not one I’ll be playing repeatedly for years to come. It works as a pit stop sort of album, but it will hopefully not be too long til we get some new, original, material for him. Working on a limitless musical blank canvas is to my ears, where he creates his best work. Though, if the purpose of this album was to celebrate the legacy of one of the giants of heavy metal alone, it certainly succeeds in that sense.

Score: 6/10


1 – Neon Knights

2 – Kill The King

3 – Stand Up And Shout

4 – Country Girl

5 – Man On The Silver Mountain

6 – Holy Diver

7 – Heaven And Hell

8 – Long Live Rock N Roll

9 – Lady Evil

10 – Don’t Talk To Strangers

11 – Starstruck

12 – The Last In Line

Label: Mascot/Provogue

Release Date: 7th April 2023

For all things, Paul Gilbert, click HERE, and to purchase the album, click HERE

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