RAINBOW — Rising (review)

RAINBOW — Rising album cover Album · 1976 · Heavy Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
Warthur
This landmark Rainbow proved to be a turning point in the careers of all involved, but most particularly of Ritchie Blackmore and Dio; it not only established Rainbow as a credible band rather than a mere vanity project of Blackmore's, but it also saw Dio join the front rank of metal frontmen from the era. It would not be too much of an exaggeration to say that most of Dio's subsequent career would be based around refining and perfecting the fantasy metal blueprint provided by this album, both in terms of his Dungeons & Dragons lyrics and the driving proto-NWOBHM sound on display.

I do not say that to denigrate Dio - quite the opposite. The fact that he was able to base so much of his future career on what was accomplished with this album just goes to show the rich creative vein tapped by it. As well as Dio's stalwart vocal performance and Blackmore's usual virtuoso guitar playing, major kudos has to go to the rhythm section of Jimmy Bain and Cozy Powell, whose driving fast-paced playing provides a rock-solid base for Blackmore and keyboardist Tony Carey's solos and Dio's quasi-operatic proclamations.

Although it's of obvious historical interest, on a purely musical level I wouldn't count the album as an unadulterated classic. Tony Carey's keyboard playing, aside from the intro to Tarot Woman, is usually upstaged by the rest of the band and doesn't seem to add much to the compositions beyond the odd bit of texture here and there, to the point where it feels as though he's present solely because artsy rock bands in the 1970s were supposed to have a keyboardist. In addition, the songwriting flags a bit after the first half of the album, with Stargazer getting repetitive to the point where I never want to hear Dio yelling "Whips and chaaaaaiiins" ever again. In addition to this, fans of more brutal and aggressive metal styles - or even harder and heavier Rainbow-influenced variants of NWOBHM, traditional metal and power metal - may find it to be rather tame. But still, when I'm in just the right mood for a Dio fix and I don't want something as heavy as his Sabbath material or as quintessentially 80s as his best solo work, Rising hits the spot.
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