Dio – ‘Magica’ Deluxe Re-Issue
Release Date: June 25, 2013
Rock and metal have many legendary icons, and few are legends among those legends, but Ronnie James Dio is just such an artist. In a career that spanned more than four decades, he recorded sonic monuments with not one, but four spectacular bands, including his own, Dio.
This month Niji Entertainment will issue a deluxe edition two-disc version of Dio’s too often overlooked conceptual masterpiece, “Magica”. The album was meant to be the first part of a trilogy, but sadly Ronnie was taken from us far too soon.
The original version of “Magica” was released in 2000. The new version has been re-mastered by Wyn Davis (Dokken, Foreigner, Heaven & Hell). Included will be a second disc featuring six live recordings from the original “Magica” tour along with the instrumental “Annica”, a Japanese only bonus track, and “Electra” The latter was the final song fully recorded by Dio and made its appearance on the 2010 “Tournado” box set and later , “The Very Beast of Dio, Vol 2”. The song was penned as a track for the “Magica II & III” album. The near 20-minute track, “Magica Story”, which is purely spoken narration by Ronnie is moved to the second disc for this re-issue. One should almost listen to the tale of “Magica” before listening to the music.
While “Magica” did not spawn any major hits for the band’s impressive catalog, it still stands among Dio’s most intelligent and seminal works. It is certainly an album that meant a great deal to Dio personally. All the tracks were penned by Ronnie and longtime guitarist, Craig Goldy. The story is of good and evil; past, present, and future. The lyrical content is filled with bold imagery and colorful allegory. In short, everything we have always loved about Dio’s metal aura lives and breathes in “Magica“.
Ronnie chose to produce the album on his own which adds to the personal connection of the material. Each bit of the album is handled with attention to detail and a perfect blend of instrumentation and voice, nuance and ambiance. Everything falls divinely into place like a breathing, mythical beast.
As he always did, Ronnie filled the project with immense talents which amplified his own. Longtime friend and bassist Jimmy Bain returned after a 13 year absence. Together the two even brought a bit of their classic Rainbow coupling to the album. Likewise, former Guiffria guitarist Craig Goldy returned as well, creating a cauldron of arresting riffage and soaring solos. AC/DC‘s former rhythm master, Simon Wright brought his dynamic drum skills to bear, building a thick foundation. Adding the mystic atmosphere to the record was long time keyboardist Scott Warren who worked on Dio‘s last five albums.
There are great songs on “Magica” but to truly appreciate it, one must take it as a whole. It all kicks off with an eerie futuristic disembodied digital robot voice on “Discovery”. This rolls into the instrumental “Magica Theme” opener. The combination of the two set the stage for a larger than life cinematic landscape.
“Lord of the Last Day” is the first full on song, and it swings and grooves with a Sabbath-esque rhythm. It’s plodding and dark but not overly doomy. Dio reigns in the bleakness and paints a sonic picture of a caravan moving across the vast wastelands. Still there is hope in the soaring beauty of the breakdown.
Goldy launches “Fever Dreams” with an exquisite riff. This is classic Dio in the “Holy Diver” or Rainbow vein. “Turn to Stone” is a monolithic piece that builds from Bain’s rumbling bottom end.
The futuristic vibe returns a bit for the intro to “Feed My Head”. The instruments are as essential to telling the story here as the lyrical content: The two writhe together–riff and rhyme.
The album’s opus is the seven-plus minute epic, “Eriel” which is part metal opera and part sound track. This is followed by the riff driven rocker, “Challis” which recalls Cat Scratch Nugent in its main riff.
Dio has never been a band to write ballads, but in “As Long As it’s Not About Love” we get the anti-ballad ballad. Moody and emotive, the track spirals and winds, and offers up one of Ronnie’s greatest career efforts. Goldy does some sweetly broody solo work here.
“Losing My Insanity” has a renaissance feel to it, with a big bass line and rolling guitar work. Another excellent guitar solo from Goldy, and solid skin work from Wright.
The album’s final full song, “Otherworld” slows the tempo, and returns to the evil portent of the opening song. The hope returns with a reprise of “Magica Theme”. This time we get vocals to offer us promise for the future before the malevolent robot returns to declare, “delete, delete, delete…” A reminder that the darkness still awaits, and thus a reprise of “Lord of the Last Day”.
Despite the tragedy of how readily this album was overlooked, it stands third in the Dio catalog behind only “Holy Diver” and “The Last In Line“. It is an immense and powerful record that deserves your attention if you are among those who paid little attention to the band beyond the 80s. It is a must own Dio album.
Track Listing Disc 1:
2. “Magica Theme”
3. “Lord of the Last Day”
4. “Fever Dreams”
5. “Turn to Stone”
6. “Feed My Head”
9. “As Long as It’s Not About Love”
10. “Losing My Insanity”
13. “Magica (Reprise)”
14. “Lord of the Last Day (Reprise)”
1. “The Magica Story”
4. “Feed My Head (official live bootleg)”
5. “Fever Dreams (official live bootleg)”
6. “Turn To Stone (official live bootleg)”
7. “Lord Of The Last Day (official live bootleg)”
8. “As Long As It’s Not About Love (official live bootleg)”
9. “Losing My Insanity (official live bootleg)”