Dio - Killing the Dragon
(8 reader votes, average 3.75 out of 5)

by Ben Perry

Dio - Killing the Dragon Review

Artist Name: Dio
Album Name: Killing the Dragon
Release Date: May 21, 2002

Band on Record:

Ronnie James Dio: Vocals
Doug Aldrich: Guitar
Jimmy Bain: Bass, keyboards
Simon Wright: Drums
Scott Warren: Keyboard solo on “Before the Fall”
King Harbour Children’s Choir: chorus on “Throw Away Children”

Track 1: “Killing the Dragon”
One of my all-time favorite Dio songs, and also the first tune I learned to play on guitar. There is such a sense of urgency in the guitar and bass riffs; coupled with Dio’s always stellar voice and you have the perfect song to rock out too. Not to mention a solo that took me forever to nail, thanks to the harmonics and blues feel Aldrich was able to give it.
Song Rating: 10 out of 10


Track 2: “Along Comes a Spider”
One of the two songs co-written by Doug Aldrich who was brought on to play guitar for this album, and his contributions are pretty good as this track continues the fast pace that most of the tunes on here offer. The added melody keeps things interesting and the solo is one of the best on here, absolutely blistering on a blues scale. Dio’s voice accompanies the riffing giving an added melody.
Song Rating: 9.5 out of 10


Track 3: “Scream”
The second tune Aldrich contributed guitar music for, and this is a different offering than what he gave on “Along Comes a Spider.” The guitar seems to have a darker edge to it than previously everything was just fast and airy. The subject matter is a bit darker, so the contribution does accentuate that fact. Dio still maintains some great vocals, but at some parts I feel could have been done better.
Song Rating: 9 out of 10


Track 4: “Better in the Dark”
Another one of my favorite tunes, this one has a great groovy courtesy of Mr. Wright and Mr. Bain that are accompanied by a guitar riff to keep the move going. Great bass solo, although small, into another great solo that Aldrich rips off.
Song Rating: 10 out of 10

Track 5: “Rock and Roll”
Originally, I never liked this song, no reason why, just did not fit with what I wanted to hear at the time. Now though, I have to say my opinion has done a complete 180 and everything from the soft intro to the hard dark guitar riffs. Dio adds the melody here as everything else focuses on creating that doom feel of the end coming. Even the solo contains those dark edges as the rhythm continues to pound away with the melody notes hanging around on the outer fringes.
Song Rating: 9.5 out of 10


Track 6: “Push”
The first, and only, single from the album that actually got a decent amount of airplay at the time and is actually a good song. The groove of the song is what makes it shine and also gives it a catchiness that can leave Aldrich’s guitar riffs playing over and over in your head. His work is absolutely fantastic, going from blues-based (though turned up a few notches) melody to hardcore riffing. Everything follows the back drum and bass beat and Dio sings over giving the perfect complementary melody.
Song Rating: 10 out of 10


Track 7: “Guilty”
This song took a long time to grow on me, not sure why as it is a decent tune that starts off with a groove reminiscent of the previous song. That is until the first verse hits and things turn more into a traditional hard rock song. The use of dramatic start-stop by the instruments adds a nice touch of feeling to the traditional straight instrumentation. Kick-ass solo on here! Absolutely blistering work!
Song Rating: 9 out of 10


Track 8: “Throw Away Children”
I really hate this song, never have liked it…and probably never will as it’s had a long time to grow on me and that has never helped it out. The song would be halfway okay, until they through in the children’s chorus and then everything just goes downhill and never truly hits a high point. The beginning does have a nice bass part, and that would be the highlight with the drum pattern coming in as a close second.
Song Rating: 3.5 out of 10


Track 9: “Before the Fall”
That groove and hard rock feel comes back on here with Aldrich again shredding it up and Bain with Wright adding the back groove. Classic sounding keyboard solo from Scott Warren a few spots on here too. Nothing wrong with hearing one of those :B
Song Rating: 9.5 out of 10


Track 10: “Cold Feet”
A great way to end the album, “Cold Feet” takes everything that was good on the album and puts it into one song. Great rhythm with interesting drum breaks, guitar riffing that is both interesting and shreddy, not to mention a superb solo and great vocals. The keyboards are used here as well, they were mostly unheard on the album but add some good background here.
Song Rating: 9 out of 10


Overall Review:
This Dio album contains a lot of specific criticisms to the way technology has affected culture, and it seems specifically the American culture and the need for instant gratification. Being able to show the speed at which the culture has accumulated with the introduction of technology and the way children are raised to expect everything, as they want it takes precedence with the more blues and sharper guitar riffing of Doug Aldrich who was brought on for this album when the other Dio guitarist Craig Goldy suffered an injury. The playing is more much more edgy in its delivery than what Goldy offered on his album which have a more pondering and deep feel to them, unlike that faint blues with edge that Aldrich rips off. We know that the album, particularly the title track deal with technology and its influences from an interview Ronnie James Dio conducted with the television show Uranium. He stated that the “dragon” in the title is the reference to technology and the negative impacts that will come of its widespread use. Just as Ronnie James Dio expressed in songs he wrote with Black Sabbath (“Computer God”) he feels that the computer truly has become a god in society, and that should be rectified.

Within “Killing the Dragon,” which holds a metaphoric symbolism to rushing off to kill a dragon in ancient times as the drum beats and guitar riffs appear to be leading the charge of rushing horses. In this case, the attempt is to stop the technology of the present from becoming the “new king” and essentially stealing everyone’s dreams and making them “digital dreams.” The computer is likened to a “small god[s] with electrical hearts” and later in the album on the song “Before the Fall” the idea of technology shaping the ideas of people takes shape.

“Could it be the voices from the radio” that make people dream and hope to make it big, whether it’s in the music business or not? “Before the Fall” tells how fame is portrayed as something desired and wanted right this moment “when he say the future/he was sure it was just the past.” As well, fame is needed right away, and if a band or person does not achieve the pinnacle of success they were planning on attaining they “don’t know what they mean/where’s my picture/shining from a magazine.” Again, the technology of media and the persistence that fame is easily come by hurts the individual who wants the instant gratification. But, once he realizes how fleeting his fame is he’ll “smash into the wall.” Transmitting this image through technology, whether it be television, radio (as the song uses), or now through the phone where everybody is connected at the same time anytime (my girlfriend can even watch television or go online on her phone…) just invades the populace with the idea of being able to achieve everything in no time at all. The idea of obtaining anything at the click of a button means that when real work needs to be accomplished then there will be no desire to complete or even do the hard work since everything before was done so easily.

Speaking on the media, the song “Rock & Roll” takes a jab at media censorship and the misrepresentation of forms of music (can you guess what kind based on the title?). There was an interview, I do not know where the magazine it was published in currently resides, but the basis for this song was based on Ronnie James Dio calling into a radio station after 9/11 happened and saying “we support you with our music and as a band” (paraphrased on memory here, but mostly correct), to which the station said that they did not need the support of Dio because its not the music people want to here. “Never cross the song police/They can tell you what you’re gonna hear – again” describes how the radio stations do control everything that is heard and with no differential to provide a wider picture for people to formulate their own ideas. The song wants you to think everything is okay with the beginning having the soft intro and soothing vocals, but with the introduction of Aldrich’s dark guitar riffs (in contrast to the more airy guitar on other tracks) show there’s something wrong with the way things are. Of course, the media is now 24/7 with the advent of online, so technology has allowed the controlling of ideas to pervade all times of the day.

The reason all the technology presents a problem is shown in “Guilty,” “Throw Away Children,” and “Scream.” Each song deals with a sense of abandonment and loss or betrayal that derives from what could be experienced through the advent of technology. All of the songs, except “Throw Away Children” have a darker tone to them and Ronnie James Dio does not so much sing, but showcase the pain those who feel the “break down on the sanity you’ve found inside you” (“Scream”), “see that all along he’s just been/Guilty – a liar, liar” (“Guilty”), and “the throw away child” (“Throw Away Children”). Each song has loss, and those who are lost suffer at the hands of another. The trust that comes from building human relationships deteriorates with technology as things are more easily made artificial and covered up allowing the lies that appear on “Guilty,” the disregard for children on “Throw Away Children,” and the idea that “the beautiful…must be holy ones” that never allow anyone to become part of their group on “Scream.” Media is definitely to blame for the last issue there, but the others are dealt with through the attention of people shifting from human interaction to digital interaction.

The band deals with these issues in a great way. Enough has been said about Aldrich and his guitar playing, but the rhythm section of Bain and Wright allows the mood to be built up during those tumultuous lines when it needs to be. Not to mention the perfect voice of Dio who shines through everything to give true purpose to those whose voices the album is speaking for. This was a tight band, and it saddened me when Aldrich left, and then the fall of Bain to his old bad habits. At least we have this great work of music and social critique to witness their work together.
Overall Rating: 9 out of 10

 

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