Review score: 78%
Review Date: July 2012
Reviewers: Tali and Paul Jack
Source: Rock Hard Reviews
NB. The CD links above are for the 2-in-1 Magica / Killing the Dragon CD release, which is best value at the time of writing
Location: The Rock Hard Reviews office, in the dark heart of England.
Date: A cold, slightly snowy Saturday in February 2013.
Tali: Okay, today I'm reviewing...wait a minute, what are you doing here?
Paul Jack: Ah, well you see there was this Twitter thing and I’d been up all night and there may have been some tweeting going on and next thing I knew I'd somehow been talking to some nice person from Niji Entertainment running the @OfficialRJDio account and one thing lead to another and they suggested writing about Magica.
Tali: Writing about what?
Paul Jack: Magica! It's a Dio album from the year 2000.
Tali: Errr... OK, play me some...
(15 minutes of cursing, thumps and coughing ensues before Paul Jack returns looking dustier and cobwebbier than before, clutching an old CD from the back of a cupboard. Or maybe from the back of a sofa.)
Paul Jack: Achoo!
Tali: All right, all right, give it here... I thought Dio's songs were about rainbows, dragons and wizards, why are there robots?
Paul Jack: They are from the distant future, discovering the relics of a long dead civilisation. A civ once full of rainbows and wizards and dragons I expect.
Tali: Do these robots dance the robot? (Silence)
Paul Jack: Errr...
Tali: And the ro-bo? Two kinds of dances?
Auntie Ethel: Coo-eee! Are you two young'uns talking about my lovely Bret and Jemaine from Flight of The Conchords?
Paul Jack and Tali in unison: No!!!
Paul Jack: (Whispering) OK, very funny. Now keep your voice down, you know what Ethel's like when she gets going.
Paul Jack turns up the volume and Lord of the Last Day kicks in.
Tali: This sounds like Iron Man.
Paul Jack: I've got Live Evil somewhere, the Sabbath album with Dio singing Iron Man.
Tali: No, I'm pretty sure I've already heard that one. Let's stick with Magica.
Paul Jack: So what do you reckon to Lord of the Last Day? Apart sounding a bit like Iron Man, I mean.
Tali: It's not the sort of stuff I usually like, but it's growing on me. I do like nighttime.
Paul Jack: Yup, well this is a concept album. A morality play about Light versus evil. See, the tracks finishing off with a bunch of monks chanting.
Paul Jack: Wait... Here we go. (A cool guitar riff kicks in). This is Fever Dreams, I really like this track. Catchy, no?
Tali: Yes, it's quicker than the last one. More classic metal than Lord of the Last Day. Now the guitarist is just showing off!
Paul Jack: Yeah, cool solo. Hard to play live too.
Paul Jack: Doug.
Tali: Say, what?
Paul Jack: Never mind. You know what this sound reminds me of?
Tali: Nope, I'm still not psychic.
Paul Jack: A much earlier Dio album, called Dream Evil. I used to have that one on vinyl, back in the day.
Tali: (Sigh) Not Vinyl Everest again, grandad?
Paul Jack: Leave it out. I used to love Dream Evil. You know why they sound similar?
Tali: Cause they're the same guy?
Paul Jack: Not just Ronnie. See here – Craig Goldy.
Tali: Wait, new track. The intro sounds like the soundtrack to a sci-fi / western crossover movie.
Paul Jack: Funny. It's called Turn To Stone.
Tali: That would explain why sounds like this place has a Medusa problem. It's got another catchy riff.
Paul Jack: Yeah, it's a bit like Push, another Dio number. I like it. Except Push doesn't end with funky robot talk.
Tali: (Singing along) Turn to stone, just forever.
Paul Jack: You like the lyrics? How about this guitar solo?
Paul Jack: Huh?
Tali: Never mind. Yeah, the lyrics are good, they paint the picture of what was going in the old world. What's the next track?
Paul Jack: Feed My Head. Don't s'pose you remember an old song called White Rabbit?
Tali: I do quite like that one actually. Yes, I get your dormouse reference.
Paul Jack: Dark lyrics or what? "Waiting for my number to climb upon the cross, maybe they'll forget about me."
Tali: Brilliant. How about this chorus? "All is lost, hope is dead."
Paul Jack: Here comes the quiet bit.
Tali: I like what Dio did with his vocals there. Sounds good. Did someone press the 'vibrato' button?
Paul Jack: The what now?
Tali: The button that makes everything sound wibbly.
Paul Jack: Don't diss Ronnie's singing.
Tali: I'm not, this is good stuff. Hey, that's another good solo right there.
Paul Jack: Here comes the chorus again. Do you realise you're humming along to it?
Tali: That's a lie.
The keyboard intro to Eriel walks into the conversation, accompanied by some beating drums.
Paul Jack: That bit there sounds like proper Dio lyrics too – Signs in the air? Shining like a diamond, promising that hope will never die. I love this old school Dio stuff.
Tali: I have to say this bit sounds pretty epic, something to do with the orchestra hiding at the back.
Paul Jack: Epic. That's a good word to describe the Magica story. What do you think of the alternating guitar and keyboards in Eriel?
Tali: They've gone now, this is another good solo. Sounds tricky to play.
Paul Jack: Yeah, Craig Goldy is a great guitarist.
Tali: I like this outro too. Sounds a bit like James Bond.
Paul Jack: Is that a good thing?
Tali: Yep. Oh, here's comes a squiggly bit.
Paul Jack: That's a bit of cool guitar work my dear. Hey, here comes the next number, it's called Challis. Another one of my old favourites.
Tali: This is a bit AC/DC isn't it?
Paul Jack: I see what you mean. Yeah, guitars sound a bit like Angus there, but the vocals are all Dio.
Tali: Catchy guitar riff, this is your sort of thing isn't it?
Paul Jack: Yeah, this sounds like a perfect example of old style classic rock from the late eighties.
Tali: Upbeat? Cheerful?
Paul Jack: Yeah, Challis is a great track.
Tali: Challis is the name of the story's young next gen hero. In the story he does actually save everyone.
Paul Jack: The song ends with the robot voices again. In a way it's a shame because this would sound better as a single without them, but the voices are an integral part of the concept album thing Dio has got going on here.
Tali: Did you say something about Magica being a trilogy of albums?
Paul Jack: I did read that somewhere, ages ago. A trilogy of concept albums would be a very rare thing in music. It's a real tragedy to music and to metal that we lost Dio too young.
Tali: Try looking it up.
Paul Jack: (Boots up the information superhighway on an ancient, cracked phone.) Here, it mentions it on Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia which is never wrong. It says they made a song called Electra for the later albums.
The next track begins to play, entitled As Long As It's Not About Love. Gentle guitar ambience fills the room.
Tali: Sad now.
Paul Jack: Sign of good music, that it can change your mood.
Paul Jack: Ronnie sounds similar to the way he did decades earlier in Rainbow Eyes, a song from much earlier in his career when we was with-
Tali: (interrupts) Rainbow?
Paul Jack: Yup.
Tali: He's got a lot emotion in his voice.
Paul Jack: Talented singer, was Ronnie. Hey, the songs getting heavier. Check out that guitar.
Tali: Sounds a bit more like Sabbath.
Paul Jack: That solo did remind me of Sabbath. I'm not usually a big fan of slow rock songs, but this is alright.
Tali: He says "Sail off the edge of the world, fall forever."
Paul Jack: There was a Sabbath song called Falling off the edge of the world. Ronnie sang on that one too. I think it's on Mob Rules.
The next track begins, it's called Losing My Insanity.
Tali: What just happened? It's a happy folk song! Is that a flute?
Paul Jack: I think Blackmore's Night just walked in! Or maybe Clannad?
Tali: I wrote a review of a Clannad album a while back.
Paul Jack: Which one?
Tali: Legend. I didn't think it belonged on Rock Hard Reviews though. But maybe if Dio does it then I can count it as rock. Paul Jack: Sure, why not. I won't tell anyone that metalhead Tali's dark secret is that she likes Clannad. I promise not to put what you just said online or anything. (Grins)
Tali: Shush, Dio's singing now.
Paul Jack: Actually this track's not at all bad, is it?
Tali: Who said it was bad? It speaks to me because I'm insane.
Paul Jack: Been knitting with only one needle again Freddie?
Tali: Yes, it's called crochet. My other, other dark secret. Hey, the mix of folk and rock guitar works pretty well here. Diddly, diddly, diddly, doo.
Paul Jack: (Shakes head in amusement) It's fading out.
Tali: Now we're back to some rock.
Paul Jack: This one's called Otherworld. What are the lyrics all about?
Tali: We getting to the end of this story. Are they telling us that everything is backwards on the Otherworld? Snow in the summer? The sun is freezing me?
Paul Jack: Did you hear that bit? Dio sang about rainbows there. You know what; I have an idea for a Dio lotto game. You each pick a word like rainbow, wizard or dragon and you score a point every time Dio mentions your magic word.
Tali: The story's finishing, and the protagonist is stuck in a weird freaky otherworldly place.
The album moves onto the Magica reprise and robots delete delete etc.
Paul Jack: So, how would you rate Magica as an album?
Tali: I think it needs to be an album for it to work. If you just streamed a few of the tracks then the robot voice links would be strange. There's quite a wide range of musical styles on the album.
Paul Jack: Yeah. For me, I remember Dio's earlier work, things like Last in Line and Holy Diver. This is similar in some respects. It's a shame Ronnie and pals didn't get to make the full Magica trilogy, that would have been epic.
Tali: Agreed. We need to score this album...
Paul Jack: Well I like it better than Angry Machines.
Tali: You always do that Angry Machines thing.
Paul Jack: Sorry. It's just – you know, how some Star Wars fans feel about Phantom Menace.
Tali: You've got to let it go!
Paul Jack: Oh, all right. Anyway, Magica didn't catch me straight away, but it grew on me after a few listens.
Tali: Well I'm thinking somewhere in the high sixties.
Paul Jack: Yeah, but it's Dio so you need to add a minimum 5% because it is the great man himself.
Tali: Ok then 69% plus a five percent Dio bonus makes it 74%
Paul Jack: I can live with that. I'd go slightly higher, but then I'm older than you and Dio's music has been part of my life for so long. Magica is a nostalgia thing for me. I reckon 78%
Tali: Including the mythical 5% bonus you just made up?
Paul Jack: Sure, 78% it is. Oh, and one last thing. Give that CD back, it's mine. You can buy your own copy.
Tali: I think I might just do that. Can I listen to some of your other old Dio albums now...?
Track List (varies depending upon version purchased)
- Magica Theme
- Lord of the Last Day
- Fever Dreams
- Turn to Stone
- Feed My Head
- As Long as its Not About Love
- Losing my Insanity
- Magica Reprise
- Lord of the Last Day Reprise
- A huge 18 minute spoken version of the Magica story, depending which version of the album you purchase.