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Last in Line - II

Label: Frontiers Music
Format: Download
Released: 2019
Reviewed By: Jack Mangan
Rating: 8/10

Expectation: a bunch of veterans from legendary bands come together for a little side project, do it as a laugh, putting minimal effort into it. It’s no one’s primary band, so no one takes it very seriously.
Reality: A pretty powerful traditional Heavy Metal offering of well-written, hard-rocking tunes for 2019, bringing a fresh modern sense, combined with the tried and true methods of the past.


If you don’t know the history, Last in Line was formed sometime shortly after Ronnie James Dio’s death by some of his former band members to honor his early solo material. The project soon morphed into its own thing, and are now releasing their second full-length album of original material. With Vivian Campbell on guitar, Vinny Appice, Phil Soussan on bass, and Andrew Freeman on vocals, this is an all-star line-up. To be honest, with that calibre of personnel, it’s possible they’re able to phone it in and still produce stuff this good.
The sound is a bit reminiscent of the earliest albums of Def Leppard (before Vivian joined them), Blue Murder, Tony Martin Black Sabbath, Glenn Hughes Black Sabbath, Tesla, early Twisted Sister, Y&T, solo Sammy Hagar, and Badlands. I might complain that a band with its foundation as a Dio tribute should sound a bit more like his classic solo stuff; the only recalls there are in Vivian’s solos. At least throw some dragons and rainbows into the lyrics, guys! I assume this was a conscious decision to hone their own dual identity: partially as a tribute to Dio’s legacy, and partially as their own independent entity.
Vivian Campbell was always a standout player, and still is today with LiL. His leads are dazzling but still human; he writes juicy riffs and plays them with emphasis and soul. Andrew Freeman sounds nothing at all like RJD, but his voice is a powerhouse. Great sounding, great talent behind it. They really shine through on “Landslide,” “Gods and Tyrants,” “Year of the Gun,” and “The Unknown.”
Be advised that if you see Last in Line live - - at least in 2019 - - they will play some of their solo tunes, but the majority of the set will be dedicated to greats from the first two Dio albums. I’m good with this.

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