When ex-Dio bandmates Vinny Appice, Jimmy Bain, and Vivian Campbell got together for a jam in 2011, they could not have foreseen that a new band was going to come out of it. The session was so much fun that they brought in singer Andrew Freeman and the band was born, named after one of the Dio albums which the three of them had played on. During the course of 2014 and 2015, the band wrote and recorded 12 new songs and chose long-time friend Jeff Pilson (Dokken, Foreigner) as producer. Their debut album, ‘Heavy Crown’ was released in February 2016, hitting number 1 on the Billboard Heat-Seekers Chart, with the singles “Devil In Me” and “Starmaker” leading the charge. Jimmy Bain passed away at the age of 68, but the band decided to continue and for the second album brought in Phil Soussan (ex-Ozzy) to fill his spot.
The result is an album which feels modern yet dated at the same time. If I had been given this and not told anything about it, I would have said that apart from the modern production what we have here is a band heavily influenced by Bad Company, and it was probably a “lost” record from that time. It certainly doesn’t sound as if it is modern release, and the use of the name while identifying the musicians certainly doesn’t provide any clues to the music they are playing (unlike Heaven and Hell, for example). Freeman is an incredible singer, with a real depth and breadth to his voice, much like a modern-day Paul Rodgers, but there is little in the way of flashiness from the rest of the guys as they concentrate on providing the support for Freeman to do his stuff. There are times when it comes over really well, but others when it almost seems like the guys are treading water and one wishes they would just up the tempo and get on with it. Interesting, but definitely not essential.