Paul Gilbert will be releasing an album celebrating one of heavy metal’s greatest icons when he releases The Dio Album via Music Theories Recordings/Mascot Label Group.
It was pure chance that led Paul Gilbert to recording the music heard on The Dio Album, available from April 7.
The American guitar virtuoso, best known for his masterful fretwork in chart-topping hard rockers Mr. Big and high-octane trailblazers Racer X.
As well as numerous solo records was in his car when he saw something that made his heart start beating faster in a moment of unexpected, unadulterated joy.
This was not a high value item of interest or even particularly rare, simply a baseball cap with the word ‘Dio’ emblazoned across the front.
Sometimes, even for the biggest of guitar legends, it’s the little things that hit us in the most profound ways.
On his drive home, a plan was being formulated. Why not capture all of that raw energy and excitement on an album devoted to Ronnie James Dio’s most celebrated tracks, spanning across his career from Rainbow to Black Sabbath and the singer’s own solo endeavours?
Gilbert is no stranger to instrumental music, but an entire album dedicated to replicating well established and world-famous vocal melodies on his trusty six-string genuinely felt like new territory.
This was already shaping up to be a challenge that he would truly relish.
It would be fair to say human voices don’t come much more magical than Ronnie James Dio’s.
He was a man who brought a sense of classical finesse to loud and heavy music, ultimately laying down the blueprint for generations and generations of rock singers to come.
Taking on the daunting challenge of mimicking those distinguished vocal lines down to a tee, each legendary performance decorated with its own idiosyncrasies and nuances, actually involved unlearning some of the technical precision that turned Gilbert into a household name for guitar players in the first place.
The Dio Album consists of 10 standout and career-defining tracks, from Neon Knights and Long Live Rock ‘N’ Roll to Holy Diver and Man On The Silver Mountain.
As well as analysing Ronnie James Dio’s electrifying vocal melodies, Paul also enjoyed paying tribute to three incredibly talented guitar legends, Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath, Ritchie Blackmore of Rainbow and Vivian Campbell from the Dio band, who has been a member of British stadium rockers Def Leppard since 1992.
“Playing all these metal riffs like Stand Up And Shout, Neon Knights and Kill The King gave me serious chills,” grins Paul.
“The guitar parts of Ritchie, Tony and Vivian brought no small number of goosebumps.
“These amazing riffs are the steel girders of the songs, upon which everything else rests,” smiles Paul.
“It had been a while since I’d been this deep into metal rhythm guitar playing, and it felt like I was digging up gold nuggets of fire with a magic platinum shovel.
“All while wearing a star-covered wizard hat. The guitar solos in these songs came screaming from distant mountaintops. Ritchie, Tony, and Vivian set the standard breathtakingly high.”
Engineered by Zach Bloomstein with Paul handling all of the instrumentation, save for Bill Ray’s inspired drum work, The Dio Album is undoubtedly the most sonically accurate tribute to the songs that made Ronnie James Dio a bona fide rock and roll legend.
In order to truly hone in on the late singer’s essence, Paul Gilbert dissected many of the melodies line by line, throwing every inch of himself into the music. It was the only way to capture every ounce of the energy and emotion.
Gilbert finishes with a tribute to Dio: “Just like he sang: ‘The world is full of kings and queens who blind your eyes and steal your dreams… it’s Heaven and Hell.’ Thank you, Ronnie, and long live rock and roll.”