Dio - Angry Machines
(4 reader votes, average 3.75 out of 5)

by Ben Perry

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Band Name: Dio
Album Name: Angry Machines
Release Date: October 15, 1996

Band on Record:
Ronnie James Dio: Vocals
Tracy G: Guitars.
Jeff Pilson: Bass
Vinny Appice: Drums
Scott Warren: Keyboards


Track 1: “Institutional Man”
Crashing cymbals, pounding bass (drum and guitar), eerie keyboards, and chugging guitar bring the heaviness, but always maintaining some level of harmony and melody whether Dio provides it with his voice or some fragmented form of guitar melody plays in the background. This is not the classic Dio and nowhere else is that obvious than during the solo, which is in no way crisp or clear, but chuggy and cloudy.
Song Rating: 8.5 out of 10


Track 2: “Don’t Tell the Kids”
This song has slightly grown over me over repeated listens, mostly due to the guitar riff with its intriguing chug and followed by slide and then into the speed metal, but sludge metal, riff. The guitar during the chorus is another section that truly drives this song into your mind. Dio’s vocals, although singing odd lyrics, are perfect for the song and also make it memorable.
Song Rating: 9 out of 10

Track 3: “Black”
“Black” was one of the few tracks that grabbed me at the first listen from this album. Vocals, guitars, and drums all converge for a start-stop combination that gives the track the cohesion it needs. Dio’s vocals are reminiscent of some other band on here at points, not the best work he’s managed with his voice, and the guitar does become over repetitive at times saved only by what could possibly be the best solo on the disc.
Song Rating: 8.5 out of 10


Track 4: “Hunter of the Heart”
If you are a Dio fan and you hear this album, I’m sure this is the song that pops into your mind. Absolutely mind-blowing bass kicks this track off, possibly the best one on this record, as everything sounds better than everything else on here: pinch harmonics with a truly unique sound, great vocals by Dio, and the aforementioned bass. If every track on here sounded like this one, Angry Machines would have been a solid album.
Song Rating: 10 out of 10


Track 5: “Stay Out of My Mind”
This song is very odd, containing different aspects you would not expect with the straight-ahead speed and almost grunge type guitar this album presents, such as cellos and an extended keyboard solo. Those aspects of the song are great, but the other parts mesh slow and fast parts that only serve to confuse and make you wonder, is this supposed to be a slow or a fast song and how do I react to this without that knowledge? Also, this extends on far too long with all the different solos (the good parts) into another two minutes of the singing and regular musicianship.
Song Rating: 7.5 out of 10


Track 6: “Big Sister”
Another odd song on an album of odd songs…”Big Sister” also grew on me after a lot of listens, but not into any great standing in Dio’s long line of songs. The music ebbs and flows with Dio conducting everything with his vocal prowess. The keyboard influence of the song is huge for me, and sets it apart from some of the other tunes.
Song Rating: 8 out of 10


Track 7: “Double Monday”
The other song on this album that immediately stood out to me, with the highlights coming from the middle of the tune in which the speed breaks down and you get a sweet acoustic interlude accompanied by rumbling bass and Dio singing into a screech as the tempo increases once again.
Song Rating: 10 out of 10


Track 8: “Golden Rules”
Chalk up another song that just makes me wonder where the traditional Dio went too, and can we get him back? The riff is decent and the vocals okay, but the lyrical content has truly lost itself with me in any form of anything but Dio just stretching at this point. The solo is pretty good, though.
Song Rating: 7.5 out of 10


Track 9: “Dying in America”
This tune did not take long to grow on me, with a killer riff and great vocals over a rhythm section that flows everything along. There is really no weak part to the song as everything compliments the other as Tracy G even rips off another good solo on this one.
Song Rating: 9.5 out of 10


Track 10: “This Is Your Life”
For whatever reason, Dio chooses to end one of the heaviest albums of his career with this piano ballad. It’s a decent song, and good ballad, no lies there but its place on this album does not make sense especially as the final song and word to the listener. Take a listen for a near a cappella performance from the vocal master that is Ronnie James Dio, plus some good keyboard and piano.
Song Rating: 9 out of 10


Overall Review:
This Dio disc is the hardest one for me to swallow, a complete departure from everything he did before and that both works, and does not work for me. Changing his musical style is a decent move, with some interesting additions such as the heavier feel from Tracy G on guitar, as well as the added bass, however some of the added do-dads like “Golden Rules” just leave me shaking my head and wondering what is going on with Dio and his musical direction. The disc is not as terrible as everyone makes it out to be, this is Dio remember, but in the grand scheme of Dio’s volume of work this ranks as either the most lackluster release or in the Top 3 of the bottom.

Lyrically, the messages are clearly stemming from a sense of anger, probably at America based on the lines of “Dying in America” that completely condone the lifestyles of Americans with the excess, conformity, and sexual nature of our entire populace. Even the youth have become sexualized as noted on “Don’t Tell the Kids” where it is apparently “all about the experience” a reason kids feel they have to participate in sex in order to get good at it for later in life. There is also a strong paranoia in the songs “Institutional Man” and “Stay Out of My Mind” as if people are controlling in, and in “Big Sister” (wordplay on Big Brother and the government control) you see how there could be a trigger to cause the paranoia, but in this case it comes across as a feminist version. The album is uncomfortable and raises some interesting questions as to the American society and everything that happened in the 90’s such as the Internet boom (from “Golden Rules”: “Angry machines, designing your destiny/Digital dreams, with no heart, no soul”) a subject that will come back to Dio’s music with the release of Killing the Dragon in 2002. Track 10, “This is Your Life”, is the track that brings everything together, the call to action in other words that brings the reality of a person’s life into crystal clear focus and everything else that happens does it really matter in the end?

Dio survived the 90’s by changing his style to a much heavier and although not grungy sound something that was similar to bands from that era. His lyrics, however, never stopped their criticism nor did they ever stop being ambiguous in meaning. He served up another good disc, not his best, but with some definite merit behind it.
Overall Rating: 8.5 out of 10

 

 

 


 

 

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