I was a relative late comer to the Dio era of Black Sabbath. My first memorable encounter with that version of the band was during my initial screening of the fantastic animated movie Heavy Metal, circa 1981. Who can forget the scene where a giant green orb crashes into a mountain, transforming it into an erupting volcano that envelopes and eventually turns the stunned townspeople into a savage mob of monsters hell bent on destroying their neighboring city. This is all taking place while Sabbath's ominous "E5150" plays in the background and then eventually leads into the monstrous opening riff to "Mob Rules." It didn't take much more than that to make me a fan.
I was actually a huge fan of Dio's solo work first, having practically made his first two killer solo albums, Holy Diver and The Last In Line, the soundtrack to my last few years of high school. By the mid-1980's I was getting more into the hair-metal scene and had pretty much left the ultra heavy music of Black Sabbath behind. All of the recent Ozzy reunions certainly piqued my interest in the band again, but it wasn't until the new The Dio Years compilation, released earlier this year, that my interest in the Dio-led Sabbath was really awakened again.
To tell you the truth, I didn't really have the highest expectations for this tour and DVD. Although Dio's most recent concert DVD, Holy Diver Live, showcased an overall incredible performance, RJ's once mighty vocals were definitely not in top form. Belting out those metal anthems for more that 40 years must certainly take its toll. Dio is purportedly 65 years old, but I've come across varying accounts of his actual age. With Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler both pushing 60, who knows what kind of energy and enthusiasm these guys would have left in them for this reunion tour. Vinny Appice is the baby of the bunch at age 50, so I was not too worried about him.
All of my concerns were quickly laid to rest after watching this incredible DVD. Not only does Dio's voice sound better than I have heard it in over a decade, but masters Iommi, Butler, and Appice are still rocking harder that ever. Most of these live performances absolutely blow away the album versions. I'm still kicking myself in the ass for passing on this tour when it came through my neck of the woods last year.