Heavy Metal is one of my favorite styles and passions in music. And one band that truly had a hand in shaping this passion is Dio with the superb 1987 record Dream Evil.
This album played when the world still seemed in order. All kinda black and white, not torn asunder by some assholes trying to rearrange our lives. Or perhaps they did already, only we did not realize it. Also, the internet did not quite exist yet. And nobody yet dreamt of cell phones the way they exist today. Hey, we even had the good old iron curtain still in place, which only fell after 1989. Not that there’s anything good about that edifice of infamy.
What can I say, Dream Evil is probably one of the most memorable – if not THE most memorable – of the Dio albums. Yet, when it released, it did not make all that many waves. It is only much later that the actual quality of this record became apparent. To the point today that some bands claimed the record’s name for their own gig.
And indeed, the record hit the Swedish and Norwegian charts1) at relatively competitive levels, at rank 4 and 7 to be precise. Also, Dream Evil did resonate across Europe much better than it ever did across the US. Which is all wrong, because – at that time – the centerpiece of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock was in North America.
I guess that our Northern European brethren did not yet quite harness the power of having a juicy slab of metal for their main course. This came only much later with the Gothic and Extreme Metal bands flooding the barren landscapes of the North. And indeed, at that time we metalheads were frowned upon somewhat sharply.
Dream Evil is also the last studio album to feature Murray on the cover of a record. Now, who the hell is Murray? Well, here’s a first hint. It’s the guy in the picture. But we’ll never know what his (or hers or its) game is. Because, here’s the point: Does the figure in the window protect the girl, or does it preside over the mayhem all those nightly critters will unleash? Who knows, right?
The music truly is Dio – and always mindful of the theme. At times the delivery gets a tad wobbly though, and I would have liked a bit more power in my metal. It is – however – also true that, by the nature of its theme, the somewhat subdued tone was probably deliberately chosen. Scratchy and then again smooth2) and more melodic than former works like Last in Line for instance.
But, the record does contain a shitload of trademark masterpieces such as Dream Evil, Sunset Superman, Naked in the Rain, Faces in the Window, or again When a Woman Cries. The list is long and almost encompasses the whole album. And of course, delivered by Ronnie’s crystal clear lyrics and astounding voice range that never ceases to amaze me.
This record is also the last for a while with Vinnie Appice for a full-length production. He kind of contributed to the next record Lock up the Wolves, but then did not really perform in that one. But fact of the matter is, he did not re-appear until the 1993 concoction Strange Highways.
Dream Evil is one of the very best productions of Dio and – amazingly – one of quite a few in a row. The first five or so of albums – like Holy Diver – were all in the top-level department from a (then) Heavy Metal point of view. And the piece turned out to be #4 of all these prime cuts.
So, what can I say? If only I could travel back in time and attend some more of their concerts – knowing what I know now. I’d gladly do that.
Editor’s note: The record successfully made it on the second installment of the Old’n’Tasty series. Congrats!
Record Rating: 9/10 | Label: Vertigo | Web: Official Site
Release date: 21 July 1987