I picked up this album at the tail end of 2016 and it ended up being my No 1 album of 2016. After Ronnie James Dio died the original members of his band, the band that recorded the Dio classics Holy Diver and The Last In Line, got together to do some Dio tribute gigs. It needs to be remembered that at the time Vivienne Campbell joined Dio he was only 21 years old, there is a lot of water under the bridge after 26 years with Def Leppard. The story goes that the original 4 guys Campbell, drummer Vinnie Appice who was with Dio in Sabbath, bass god Jimmy Bain, who was with Dio in Rainbow and keyboardist Claude Schnell who became part of the Dio band once they started playing Holy Diver live enjoyed the gigs so much they ended up writing new material. That new material is this album called Heavy Crown.
The elephant in the room is always going to be vocals. How does anyone step into Ronnie James’s shoes? The answer is that Andrew Freeman is actually excellent. He is so good he can do all the Dio stuff but doesn’t sound like he is trying to rip Ronnie off, he’s got the range and the power but on the Last In Line originals he still sounds like his own man. I think Andrew Freeman is great, he looks cool as well. Here are the two official video’s off the album, they are well worth checking out. There is quite a lot of club footage on YouTube where they are playing the Dio songs as well. The sound isn’t great so I haven’t included them here but worth checking out to hear how they sound if you are interested.
The other thing I find really interesting here is how Vivienne Campbell plays exactly like he did on Holy Diver. The solos are aggressive and in your face like they were when he was in Dio. In Def Leppard I just don’t hear that, its almost like he is a completely different guitarist. I would like to tell him ”Welcome back Viv, you sound awesome ”