DIO — Sacred Heart (review)

DIO — Sacred Heart album cover Album · 1985 · Heavy Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
Kingcrimsonprog
Dio’s Third Studio album Sacred Heart is an absolute must-have for Dio fans.

The album may not feature trademark-Daemon Murray on the art work (like on the band’s first, second and fourth albums) but don’t let that lead you to expect anything from the band that you didn’t want or expect. Sacred Heart takes the formula of the first two albums pretty strictly, giving you exactly what you want from Dio… hard and heavy rock/metal music with fantasy themes, big guitar solos and the voice which separates Ronnie James Dio himself from the crowd.

This was the last Dio album to feature Northern Irish guitarist Vivian Campbell and some people say that his playing isn’t as good here as on the first two albums, but to my ears his performance is great and the guitar solos on the album are strong and, crucially, memorable.

In a move similar to Heart’s ‘Cook With Fire,’ the album opener ‘King Of Rock And Roll,’ is inexplicably either live or live in the studio with crowd noise on top (not explained in the notation) but luckily the performance is absolutely incendiary… especially on drums, Vinnie Appice absolutely destroys his drum kit in one of the most energetic performances I’ve ever heard… it isn’t even overly flashy but he plays the absolute hell out of the kit and proves himself years ahead of his time, with a modern approach to drumming that wasn’t necessarily present on a lot of early 80s music. Incidentally, aforementioned track is one of the best songs Dio ever released.

The rest of the album, back in studio recording territory, is equally good. The music is a little more keyboard driven than the band’s first two albums (perhaps keyboardist Claude Schnell had integrated into the band more at this point), but still has a hard, rock centric attitude and plenty of interesting and memorable riffs.

All the early Dio albums had at least one foray into 80s commercial territory, and Sacred Heart is no different, with ‘Hungry For Heaven,’ and ‘Shoot Shoot,’ adding some diversity to the trademark Dio sound. Some listeners may care to skip these tracks for not being heavy enough or their slightly cheesy keyboard sounds, but I find them to fit quite well with the heavier and faster material, providing contrast.

To summarise, Sacred Heart is a great album and if you enjoyed any other Dio album then you really ought to check out Sacred Heart too; more lyrical references to rainbows, more guitar solos and generally great songs… what more could a Dio fan possibly want ?
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