DIO – Master Of The Moon


Sanctuary Records
Release Date: September 7, 2004

User Review
10/10 (1 vote)

According to biographical data on Ronnie James Dio, he was born in 1942, making him about 62 years old here in 2004. As far as Metal artists go, he’s got to be the most veteran of the veterans … and one of the most amazing. Although individually one of the truly recognizable and “household” names in the Metal genre, a legitimate argument can indeed be made that Dio as a solo artist never really enjoyed a level of album sales and radio play commensurate with the quality of his output. In the heyday of Metal, when Holy Diver turned heads in the industry in 1983 with its “perfect” percussion sound and raw power approach, Dio’s quest to achieve mega-levels of success likely suffered from the incapability of being displayed as a “pretty boy,” instead opting to hold true to his image of being one small step removed from the recesses of purgatory’s pits and/or the tormented dreamland of uncertainty and metaphorically undecipherable imagery.

Nonetheless, Dio continued to plug along and defend Metal’s/his faith as admirably and loyally as anyone in the business. Justifiably and somewhat recent to the time of this review, Dio received a much deserved accolade when The Encyclopedia of Heavy Metal bestowed on him the ultimate designation of being the #1 Heavy Metal Singer of All Time! Certainly a few other vocalists who have paid their dues (and then some) may have equal or better raw talent, but based on how sometimes these awards get divvied out, you can’t help but to feel a warm feeling of satisfaction for Dio and for the genre as a whole.

Now 21 some odd years since Dio decided to take the solo plunge, we have Dio’s latest effort entitled Master Of The Moon, coming out about 2 years since his prior studio release, Killing The Dragon. Master Of The Moon is comprised of 10 tracks with the following major players: Craig Goldy – guitars, Jeff Pilson – bass guitar, and Simon Wright – drums.


Dio has opted for a very straightforward, bass-orientated, predominantly methodical approach to this album … if Master Of The Moon had come out as Dio’s first album in 1983 after Black Sabbath’s Mob Rules, Dio would’ve been accused of copycatting the Sabbath style – this CD definitely has a Sabbath-era feel to it musically. It generally works. It’s heavy and driving without coming across as disjointed or out of control. It’s kind of refreshingly simple, actually. Goldy’s solo’s are somewhat tame, yet well constructed, and Wright’s drum playing, along with Pilson’s bass work, is nicely blended.

As everyone knows, Dio has been continually successful in his lyrics writing in the past. In the tracks “In Dreams,” “Living The Lie,” “Shivers,” “The End Of The World,” and “The Man Who Would Be King,” you’ll encounter vintage Dio writing – witty, image provoking, and catchy all at the same time. You just gotta love classic lines like this one out of the song “Shivers”: “… Rats and bats and spiders / And little things that crawl / Never make me tremble / I’m not bothered, not at all …” when Dio unveils that the female protagonist in the song does in fact chill him to the bone.

Comparatively, “In Dreams,” “Living The Lie,” and “Shivers” certainly are capable of standing side-by-side with the best tracks ever formulated by Dio. “In Dreams” has a great guitar solo, and is the most “Sabbath-like” of the 3. “Living The Lie” is the most conventional Dio-sounding track with a tempo faster than what is typical on this album. “Shivers” is driven by a very heavy and prominent drumbeat, and certainly benefits from the genius of Dio’s lyrics.


A few of the songs seem to need a proverbial “kick in the pants” to get going and to climb over the hump. In particular, “I Am,” the title track “Master Of The Moon,” “The Eyes,” and “The Man Who Would Be King” seem to all have great potential, but seem to lack punch or a key twist to make them stand out as stellar.

Surprisingly too, the other 5 tracks not noted in the WHAT’S GOOD section, “Death By Love,” “I Am,” “Master Of The Moon,” “One More For The Road,” and “The Eyes” all have kind of lame lyrics when considering Dio standards. Here’s a few examples:

From “Death By Love” – “… Don’t ask why / Don’t even think about it / Brave men die / But what a way to go / She’s not above / Death by love …”
From “Master Of The Moon” – “… Turn around and when you face the sun / We can make you be like everyone you know / Hey you / Master of the moon …”

These 5 tracks give the listener the feel that Dio was close to coming up with something special, but opted just to get something down on paper that rhymed without being repetitive in content to previous works – who knows, maybe Dio is running short of ways to describe his 4th dimensional dreamland after all.

Lastly, the golden voice of Ronnie James Dio isn’t always so golden in this album. The mix often has him coming through with a bit too much volume, and his voice seems forced quite often – almost as if he’s straining to sing rather than naturally delivering his lyrical lines as in prior efforts. Don’t misconstrue these comments, however, even on an “off day,” Dio still ranks in the upper echelon of Metal front men.


Subject to some obvious shortcomings, Master Of The Moon is actually a pretty solid album with a very successful music sound and approach. Dio fans will likely find enough highlights within this album to make the 2-year wait since his last album worthwhile. Dio shows he continues to have the talent and musical ideas to, at times, deliver some extremely high quality tracks. At other points, particularly with his voice, Dio may be starting to show his age. Nonetheless, let’s hope this Metal patriarch continues to carry the torch for our beloved musical genre for years to come!


Guitars: B-
Bass: B+
Keyboards: Sparsely Used
Percussion: B-
Vocals: B
Lyrics: B-
Recording Quality: B+
Originality: C
Overall Rating: B-


  • Dan Skiba

    Dan is a former partner at Metal Express Radio, and also served as a reviewer, photographer and interviewer on occasions. Based out of Indianapolis, USA he was first turned on to Hard Rock music in the mid-1970s when he purchased Deep Purple's Machine Head as his first album. He was immediately enthralled with the powerful guitar sound and pronounced drumbeat, and had to get more! His collection quickly expanded to include as many of Heavy Rock bands of the time that he could get his hands on, such as Ted Nugent, Judas Priest, and Black Sabbath, to name just a few.

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