There are several bands out there now with roots to the band Dio and legendary vocalist Ronnie James Dio. One of them is Last In Line, a band formed by three members of Dio's first and classic line-up; Vivian Campbell, Vinnie Appice and the late Jimmy Bain. Together with vocalist Andrew Freeman, they released their impressive debut album in 2016, HEAVY CROWN. The band hit the road and cemented their reputation as a solid live band who were more looking to the future than living in the past. Sadly in 2016, bassist Jimmy Bain passed away. Last month the band released their second album, entitled II.
One of the first thing you will notice is that the band sounds nothing like they did in Dio in both performances and style. Forging their own identity, guitarist Vivian Campbell still has the flash, but on songs like Gods And Tyrants and Landslide, he still plays with the speed you would expect, but there is more control and substance. Drummer Vinnie Appice has always played to the music and here, he continues that trend. On Year Of The Gun he has his fills, crashes and rolls but, plays to the song, like everything on the album.
Vocalist Andrew Freeman has a very unique voice and is not the typical metal singer. He has a voice that doesn't wail above the songs and try to keep up with the solos, it is melodic, full of body and is quite pleasant to listen to. On the song, The Unknown, Freeman (in my ears) goes from Kip Winger to Dug Pinnick to an almost grunge feel but you know it's still the same guy.
The new addition to the band, bassist Phil Soussan adds so much grit to the songs. Much like he did with his time with Ozzy Osbourne (THE ULTIMATE SIN), his playing adds another level, not just filling in the bottom end, just listen to False Flag.
The production by Jeff Pilson (Dokken/Foreigner/Dio/T&N) is so spot on you start to think there isn't anything in the music biz he can't do. He lets the band create their own identity but adds some vocal tricks and musical moments that bring the Dokken in... and that is a compliment.
If you get II and expect to hear Black Sabbath riffs, Def Leppard harmonies or Ozzy style hysterics then you will be very disappointed. What you will get is some solid heavy guitar rock with a bit of the blues, like Badlands and Lynch Mob, with more nods to Led Zeppelin than Iron Maiden. The more I listen, the more I LOVE!!!!
MATMAN RATING - 4 OUT OF 5
Last In Line Official Site - For news and tour dates!!!
The Power Chords Podcast is a twice-monthly podcast celebrating rock and metal music of the '70s, '80s, '90s and beyond. The show is co-hosted by Matt Herring and Brian LeTendre.