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'Heavy Crown'
(Frontiers Records Srl)
Release date: 19th February 2016

Liz Medhurst

liz medhurst

last in line

When the original musicians from the classic Dio albums, plus vocalist Andrew Freeman, announced last year that they were delivering an album of brand new material, there was a lot of anticipation from those who had seen Last In Line live.

Initially formed as a way of keeping the music of Ronnie James Dio on the road and to recreate the classic sound of the early 80s albums they have now become a band in their own right.

Still, they are absolutely entwined with Dio's name and catalogue, so the association will always remain but they have shown that they are another branch of the family tree, not merely bringing in a replacement vocalist.

In a very sad twist to the tale, with bassist and songwriter Jimmy Bain passing away on the Def Leppard's 'Hysteria On The High Seas' Cruise last month, the promotional period for 'Heavy Crown' ought to have been loaded with anticipation for the future, but instead it's serving as his epitaph.

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'Heavy Crown is written jointly by all band members and is a real corker of an album - majestic, hard, heavy and melodic. From the classic leanings of traditional Metal in 'Orange Glow' and 'Martyr', to the powerful 'Starmaker' to the anthemic 'The Sickness' and all points in between this is well-crafted and played by a band with obvious chemistry.

'Blame It On Me' is the perfect example of this, with a driving hook reminiscent of one of the key figures from Jesus Christ Superstar, it showcases every member brilliantly using open spaces to great effect.

Throughout, Viv Campbell's guitar playing is as classy ever, always finding a corner to throw in an inventive phrase and the rhythm section of Vinnie Appice and Jimmy Bain is a hard-hitting profusion of joy, albeit a poignant one under the circumstances.

Freeman also does an excellent job here full stop – no "as a replacement" or "considering the shoes he's stepped into". He's an excellent vocalist working with excellent material whose vocals are strong and rich and do the music perfect justice.

Even with hindsight it's a stretch to think that the lyrics foretold Bain's death and that the album contains a Bowie-like message of farewell, but there are times when they do pull you up – moments like the spoken "though we may die – today we live" at the end of 'Revolution', and there's a whole track called 'Already Dead' - and more besides.

Of course death and related themes are no strangers to rock and Metal music and there are many more layers and aspects to this album which are revealed on repeated listening.

'Heavy Crown' is classic and timeless, the band and producer Jeff Pilson have done themselves proud. It will appeal to Dio fans but it is not stuck in the past – it is in the spirit of Dio but also a natural evolution.

At the time of writing the expected tour is not happening, but Last in Line will honour the headline slot at Frontiers Rock Festival in Italy in April, with a bassist yet to be announced. I hope that these songs continue to find an outlet as they are far too good to be lost in time.





Wacken Winter Nights 2018 takes place between February 23rd and 25th 2018 and the great news is that you can now experience a full-on, top class German Metal Festival easily and affordably.

It only takes an hour to fly to Hamburg from London and we've had longer journeys than that within the capital and they were certainly more expensive than the £33 air ticket that just appeared in our 'flights to Wacken Winter Nights' search.


Wacken Winter Nights is organised by the same team who are responsible for the world's greatest Metal festival, Wacken-Open-Air and the 2018 bill includes Skyclad, Orphaned Land, Elvenking, Finntroll, Grave Digger, Aeverium, Comes Vagantes, Coppelius, Corvus Corax, Die Pressgëng, Elvellon, Heimataerde, Hell-O-Matic, Ignis Fatuu, Ingrimm, Irdorath, Johnny Deathshadow, Krayenzeit, Letzte Instanz, Mr Hurley und die Pulveraffen, Pampatut, Pat Razket, Schandmaul, Sündenrausch, The Aberlour's, The Moon And The Nightspirit, Torfrock, Visions Of Atlantis, Vroudenspil, Wind Rose and more.

Besides this rich billing of superb Metal bands, there is so much more to see in the festival area including the medieval market and also the walking acts and jugglers you will meet at the theme worlds, including Robert Blake, three-time World Cup winner of street magic.

Wacken Winter Nights is something not to be missed and you can check out the amazing ticket and accommodation prices right here.

We just priced up the whole four day trip with hotels, flights, shuttles and festival tickets for less than £300 and we don't think you will get a better value festival than that, anywhere.


MetalTalk recently sat down with Wacken founder and owner Thomas Jensen and that interview will be online next week and it's a fascinating insight into how Wacken originated from nothing to become the world's premiere Heavy Metal event.


Wacken 2018 takes place from 2nd to 4th August 20218 and as with Wacken Winter Nights, if you have never experienced all it has to offer, then you owe it to yourself to remedy that.

Already announced for Wacken 2018 are Judas Priest, Nightwish, Running Wild (exclusive), Arch Enemy, Dirkschneider, Doro (Special Anniversary Show), In Extremo, Sepultura, Amorphis, Amaranthe, Firewind, W.A.R., Belphegor, Mantar, Knorkator, Deserted Fear, Watain, Night Demon, Epica, Knorkator, Belphegor, Firewind, Deserted Fear and many more and we'll have more Wacken 2018 announcements during December.

As well as being the greatest Heavy Metal festival in the world, it is without a doubt the Mecca of Metal and the one thing that every single person who loves our music should have on their bucket list.

For 2018, MetalTalk have joined forces with Wacken-Open-Air to help you get to Wacken easily and inexpensively and you can peruse the ticket and travel options right here.

If you are interested in going to Wacken 2018 and have questions, please fill out the form below and we will contact you with answers to all your enquiries. You are under no obligation whatsoever by filling this form out. We won't add you to any mailing lists or send you loads of spam - all we will do is help you get to Wacken as easily and inexpensively as possible.



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