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Dio

Sacred Heart

Review by Greg Olma

In 1985, Dio, the band and the singer, were riding a wave of popularity spurred on by the two great releases Holy Diver  and The Last In Line.  Behind the scenes, things were not so rosy and this record marked the final one by the classic line-up.  While I feel that there are some great tunes on Sacred Heart, the chinks in the armor were starting to show.  Half the disc sounds like B-side material. Don’t get me wrong, even a bad song by Dio is still better than most of the heavy metal fare that was being churned out on a daily basis back in the day.  The first side of the original record is where all the real gems reside, but there are moments where side two shines as well.  I still like Sacred Heart a lot and, even though this isn’t the finest moment in the Dio catalogue, I still rank it as a “must own” for any Dio fans.


This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2021  Volume 2. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2021.

Track by Track Review
King of Rock and Roll
The record starts off with dubbed-in crowd noise to make it seem like it is a live track but it is a studio cut.  This is a worthy successor to “Stand Up And Shout” off of Holy Diver.  It is a rocking tune and it is the type of track that gets you pumped.  It is an awesome way to start Sacred Heart, and, even today, I rank it as one of their best tunes.
Sacred Heart
Claude Schnell ushers in this plodding song that really is the showpiece of this album.  There are a lot of keyboards starting to creep into the Dio sound, and while some fans might have been unhappy with that change, I think it brought some extra color and dimension to the sound. The track goes on for quite a bit, but you can almost tell that this was conceived to be a live tune that would showcase the extravagant show for the Sacred Heart tour.
Another Lie
There is a sparseness to “Another Lie” that makes it seem like it was a leftover form their previous releases, and I feel it would have fit on Holy Diver.  Vivian Campbell really was great at coming up with catchy riffs, and it works so well with Ronnie James Dio’s melodic vocals.  Dio adds a sense of urgency into his performance on this track that, for me, makes this one of the better songs on Sacred Heart.
Rock ‘N’ Roll Children
Keyboards play a big part in this cut which was a pretty big hit for the band.  This is one of the most melodic tunes that came out of the classic era of the band, but it still manages to rock out.  It is a mid-paced rocker with an extremely catchy chorus that contains one of Campbell’s signature solos.
Hungry For Heaven
While it is a good song, this tune is where you see the band writing hits instead of what they should be doing which is writing heavy metal tunes.  The song was part of the Vision Quest soundtrack in a slightly different version, but neither sounds very inspired.  It is also very keyboard heavy, and hardcore fans didn’t like the added texture and were more interested in Dio’s previous output.
Like the Beat of a Heart
After two fairly softer songs, the band seems to realize they need to notch it up a little and they put forth this plodding metal workout.  Instead of going for the hits, they needed to focus on songs like this because I think this could have been a hit because it has that melodic heavy metal feel without compromising their signature sound.  They played this track on tour and then dropped it afterwards, but I feel that this could have been a bigger song than what it eventually became; just another track on Sacred Heart.
Just Another Day
This starts off with a riff that reminds me of “Neon Knights” off of Black Sabbath's Heaven and Hell.  This is one of the faster songs on the record but it really doesn’t go anywhere.  At just under three-and-half minutes, this one has an album filler vibe to it.  As mentioned previously, a bad Dio song is still better than most bands can come up with, but you can hear the quality dipping on this one.
Fallen Angels
Just like “Another Lie”, there is a sparseness to this cut.  It has the vibe of just a bunch of guys rocking out in a basement.  It is one of the heavier tunes on Sacred Heart, and I can guarantee that is it often overlooked because of it’s positioning on the album.  They should have sequenced this one higher up in the track listing, which would have made it a crowd favorite.  It is a heavy rocker that deserved better than it got.
Shoot Shoot
Not to be confused with the UFO song by the same name, this mid-paced rocker showed promise until the chorus.  The chorus is just too light and doesn’t quite fit the heaviness of the rest of the track.  Given more time (remember that the band was putting out one record per year), I feel that this one could have been fleshed out into something better.  I like everything about it except the chorus and I remember feeling a bit disappointed with how the record ended.  Previous releases had "Shame on the Night" and "Egypt (The Chains Are On)," which are both phenomenal cuts, and this is a let-down.
 
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