RATINGS: A = must own B = buy it C= average D = yawn F = puke

Last in Line - Heavy Crown
Frontiers Music

Rating: B

Release Date: February 19, 2016

Frontiers Music will release Heavy Crown, the debut album by Last in Line on February 19th. Last in Line is a side project of guitarist Vivian Campbell, which includes Vinny Appice, Claude Schnell, and Jimmy Bain, all who played in the Dio band, plus singer Andrew Freeman.

On January 23, 2016 Last in Line bassist Jimmy Bain died in his cabin on Def Leppard's Hysteria on the High Seas cruise, on the eve of a scheduled performance by Last in Line.  His cause of death was from lung cancer, even though he had not been diagnosed with the disease... Bain thought he was just battling pneumonia.  Bain was an icon of hard rock, having played in the band DIO, Rainbow and other releases by Gary Moore and Phil Lynott, to name a few. His unexpected death makes this latest release shrouded with a certain amount of sadness, mixed with much anticipation from his fans.

Last in Line began life as a jam session in 2011.  It didn’t take long for the former DIO band mates to discover the chemistry was still there.  The trio of Bain, Campbell and Appice appeared on the classic DIO albums Holy Diver, Last in Line and Sacred Heart... arguably the best DIO albums ever created. Bain also co-wrote some of the biggest DIO tunes. After nearly three decades apart and surviving the death of Ronnie James Dio, the three rockers decided to create Last in Line, the band, and begin writing and recording new songs.

Lead vocals are sung by Andrew Freeman.  He sounds nothing like Ronnie James Dio, but he holds his own.  “Devil in Me” is the best tune on this sucker.  “Starmaker” has the classic DIO/Rainbow feel to it.  Campbell delivers big on both of these, making a very welcome return to heavy metal after years of hanging around in the band Def Leppard.  “Burn This House Down” will harken fans to the lead guitar break in “Holy Diver.”  Some songs really have a nod to the early DIO days, while others show a band creating music without worrying about their ‘sound’.    It is a good way to go.  There are plenty of DIO moments, but there is enough original uniqueness to make this band stand as its own entity.

Viv can still rock as hard as he did when he was plucked from obscurity by Ronnie.  The two had their differences over the years, which led to Campbell leaving the DIO camp.  After all of this time, and seeing Viv being a cancer survivor, along with the deaths of Ronnie and Jimmy, this album has a greater meaning than the members could have known when they began this project. 

At the end of the day, this is not a DIO tribute.  Last in Line is a band. In some ways that is good...  In other ways, with Freeman singing, it takes a bit away from the fact that Ronnie James’ fans wanted this to sound more like classic DIO.  Truth be told, it is somewhere in between, which, after all that has gone on, is a good place for it to land. Producer Jeff Pilson did a nice job sonically, as this album sounds like a classic metal album. 

The band Last in Line is, hopefully, not a ‘one and done’, as there is a lot here to be excited about.  They will tour both the USA and Europe.  The live set will include songs from their debut release Heavy Crown  as well as masterpieces from the DIO catalog.

The bottom line is that if you’re a hard rock/metal fan and like to go old school, you’re already going to check this sucker out despite this, or any other review.

Go get it.  Crank it up and enjoy.

Track Listing:

01.Devil in Me
04.Burn This House Down
05.I Am Revolution
06.Blame It On Me
07.Already Dead
08.Curse the Day
09.Orange Glow
10.Heavy Crown
11.The Sickness

By Jeb ‘In the Dark’ Wright