Tribute albums can be a tricky proposition and reviewing tribute albums somehow feels even dumber than reviewing original albums. No one will ever top the original and I sort of prefer the continuity of artist cover albums (like Anthrax or Stryper’s recent efforts) over the multi-artist tributes. That said, there is quite a bit of satisfying material here on “This Is Your Life”, the long awaited (some feared never to be released) tribute to the late, great Ronnie James Dio. There’s also at least two songs I would skip ever playing again as long as I live my life here on earth. Let’s start with those….
I do not like the Rob Halford sung version of “Man On The Silver Mountain”, maybe noone else does either and that’s why it’s buried a bit on the album. You would logically expect a home run from the Metal God covering an artist as revered as Ronnie James but almost everything about the song just feels wrong aside from some great guitar work from Doug Aldrich. The Killswitch Engage version of “Holy Diver” is much, much worse. It just strays too much from Ronnie’s performance and could be “exhibit A” for anyone wanting to argue that Tribute albums suck.
That aside, this album rocks because you are left with a ton of great material like The Scorpions cover of one of my favorite Ronnie songs “Temple of the King”. It is faithful to the original but also clearly a song that shares much of the melodic intracacies the German masters have always excelled at. Equally amazing is the Motorhead/Saxon teaming on “Starstruck” which has a ridiculous amount of energy. Doro turns in a honest, passionate and epic performance of “Egypt (The Chains Are On”) which might be the most heartfelt of all of these tracks. Adrenaline Mob absolutely nail their performance on “Mob Rules” with possibly the best vocal on the entire album.
The big four of thrash represent here with Metallica turning in a blistering eight minute plus “Ronnie Rising” medley and Anthrax doing a passionate rendition of “Neon Knights”. My two personal favorite tracks on the album are the Tenacious D cover of “Last in Line” (complete with elfin recorder magik) and the Japanese bonus track, Stryper’s “Heaven and Hell”. There’s also the added incentive that the proceeds go to benefit Ronnies cancer fund and the amazing gatefold art that houses this album. I say pick this up, there is bound to be something you love on it. I hope the next benefit for Ronnies fund is an updated recording of “Hear N Aid”s “We’re Stars” featuring classic and current stars. I’d buy that too.
Pick up “Ronnie James Dio: This is Your Life” on Amazon here