“Angry Machines” came out in 1996.
By now, Dio’s glorious 80’s highs ceased to be. He was already struggling during the “Dream Evil” and “Lock Up The Wolves” eras. Even though fans like those albums, they didn’t translate commercially and the label was not happy.
His return to Black Sabbath was inevitable and with “Dehumanizer”, they released a critically acclaimed album, which the hard core Dio and Sabbath audience liked, but the same old issues of playing second fiddle to Ozzy reared its head again and Dio left, as he didn’t want to be an opening act to Ozzy.
“Strange Highways” came out in 1993 and it was well received by the hard core fans, but there wasn’t a mainstream market for 90’s Dio, let alone a 90’s Dio trying to sound relevant.
My mate, “Nick The Stick” (6ft 4 of just bones) worshipped at the altar of Dio and he burnt me a copy of this. I didn’t listen to it right away, because I had lost interest in Dio at this point in time.
Apart from Ronnie James Dio on vocals, the band is Tracy Grijalva (a.k.a. Tracy G) on guitars, Jeff Pilson on bass, Vinny Appice on drums and Scott Warren on keys.
Most reviews I have read cited this album as carrying grunge like influences, however, it is more groove metal (think Pantera) and progressive metal than a hard rock artist attempting to add Grunge influences to their sound.
And most artists who had successful careers in the 80’s didn’t really know what metal sounded like in the 90’s.
In the 80’s everything with a distorted guitar was classed as metal. Then by the mid 80’s, different genres started to come out. By the 90’s, bands advertised as metal didn’t even sing in clean tone anymore. Suddenly Black Sabbath sounded like a pop band compared to the metal bands of the 90’s, but in the 70’s Sabbath was seen as an “extreme” metal act.
On “Angry Machines”, there isn’t a perfect song or a great song or a good song. There are good bits in the songs.
Written by Appice, Dio and Tracy G. Dio sounds uninspired and tired. But the biggest problem is the lack of good riffs.
In saying that, the verse riff would sink “Sad But True” for heaviness and in between the verses, there is this chromatic riff which came from the fingers of Iommi and the song “Buried Alive”.
“Don’t Tell the Kids”
Written by Appice, Dio and Tracy G, it’s speed metal, done in a 90’s Pantera way.
Written by Dio, Tracy G, Appice and Jeff Pilson. On my initial first listen, I was ready to press stop. I didn’t like it. It was to atonal.
Hearing it again today, I like it for what it is. A way to keep Dio relevant. It’s got this E7#9 sounding shape in the intro riff which makes it sound almost progressive in its song writing.
Tracy G. shines in the lead department here.
“Hunter of the Heart”
Written by Appice, Dio and Tracy G, this song has potential.
The bass grooves to start it off are worthy, very Sabbath sludge like. When the band crashes in, it’s head banging time. The verse riff’s remind me of songs from the “Dream Evil” album.
“Stay Out of My Mind”
It again showcases Pilson’s strength as a songwriter (he is solely credited), bringing in psychedelic rock and heavy metal influences into this.
And in the middle, it’s almost theatre “Andrew Lloyd Weber” like.
Check out the outro, it’s like “She’s So Heavy” from The Beatles getting a 90’s makeover.
It could have used some editing, but… it is what it is.
It starts off with a vocal line that says, “Who controls your mind?”
Written by Dio, Tracy G., Appice and Pilson, this is when Big Brother turns into Big Sister, and you are given a number and another name, while others watch what you do.
If you like Tool, then you will like the Tool like riffs between 3.20 and 3.40.
Written by Appice, Dio and Tracy G.
Check out the awesome acoustic guitar mid-section. It’s only 30 seconds long, but totally worth the listening experience.
It starts off eerie like, as “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” is played on a music box. The song is written by Appice, Dio and Tracy G.
It then has a chugging riff and drum groove which kicks in and I like it.
“Dying in America”
Written by Dio, Tracy G., Appice and Pilson. They delivered a nice piece of groove metal.
“This Is Your Life”
Its written by Dio and Tracy G and it’s more Beatles like. The track remained ignored, only to be noticed after Dio’s death.
If you haven’t heard this album, there is no reason to go out and invest time into it. It’s not classic Dio. People claim he sold out, but he didn’t sell out chasing trends, he just didn’t know what metal was meant to sound like, so he went in and tried to create something different.
For an album that did terrible commercially, it put Dio on the road from November 1996 to November 1997. There was a U.S leg, a European leg, another U.S leg, a Canadian leg, a Japanese leg and finally a South American leg.
The venue sizes ranged from 400 people to 3000 people and Dio had quite a few sellouts.