In 2012, the classic Dio 'Holy Diver' and 'The Last In Line' line-up that helped create some of the most memorable songs in the heavy metal genre joined forces to create the group LAST IN LINE. LAST IN LINE is made up of Vivian Campbell on guitar, Vinnie Appice on drums, Phil Soussan on bass (replacing bassist Jimmy Bain after his unexpected and tragic passing in January of 2016) and Andrew Freeman on vocals.
Over the course of the last seven years, LAST IN LINE have found their own success in carrying on the legacy of beloved metal singer, Ronnie James Dio who we tragically lost to cancer in 2010. Dio's passing is still felt by metal fans around the world almost a decade later and I believe fans long for some sort of live experience to bring back the music that so many have come to know and love. From touring the world to playing festivals across the United States, LAST IN LINE are now celebrating the release of their sophomore album entitled, 'II' which was released this past February 22nd.
It definitely takes some guts as a group to go forth and create original material. They without a doubt could've solely stuck to the tribute route and only played Dio tunes during an occasional show; especially in the current era of lack of monumental album sales. And who are we kidding? Following in the footsteps of the beloved Ronnie James Dio is far from being an easy feat. With all that being said, I completely appreciate them putting forth new music and giving fans something more than what's to be expected. They pay homage well and I think fellow fans are happy too.
'II' is the follow-up to the bands debut record of entirely original music entitled, 'Heavy Crown' which saw the light of day in February of 2016 shortly after Bain's passing. Even with their own original catalog, the band plays a mix between original tunes and classic RJD tunes including 'Rainbow In The Dark', 'Holy Diver', 'The Last In Line', 'We Rock', and more. The first time I had the chance to see them live was 2018's M3 Rock Festival and they honestly thoroughly impressed me.
Jeff Pilson, formerly of Dokken and presently of Foreigner has been LAST IN LINE's producer for both of their original works and his passion for the group and their project shines through when he speaks of his time working with the band. Pilson had his own time working closely with Dio himself on his record 'Strange Highways' (where he also worked with Appice) which is part of the reason I believe that he's the perfect choice to produce this group—apart from his incredible talent. Something that I think fans will appreciate about the new material is that though it definitely caters to the Dio audience and Dio fans will enjoy it, it's not like LAST IN LINE are trying to replicate the same sound of 'Holy Diver.'
Andrew Freeman's vocals can definitely pull off Dio's iconic tunes but not by any means does he sound like a complete replication of Dio, which in my opinion was incredibly smart. Real rock and roll fans can smell imitation from a mile away and it tends to be one of the biggest turn-offs. Andrew Freeman is far from an imitation. On the band's original material he's entirely being himself and it's incredibly refreshing. You could even say he's leaning more to the style of his previous endeavors as well including Lynch Mob, Hurricane, etc.
Honestly I think this 'lack of trying to be like the classic RJD band' is seen full force on this record. The band seems to be standing on their own two feet and I 100% believe it's working in their favor. I think the development of their own sound is seen even more with the addition of Soussan who worked with Ozzy Osbourne on his 1986 'The Ultimate Sin' as well as with Billy Idol, Vince Neil, and more.
When it comes to Vivian Campbell and Vinnie Appice, their playing is as solid as ever. Together they have an undeniable signature sound that has contributed to LAST IN LINE's own unique sound when joining forces with Freeman and Soussan. One of my favorites off the record was the lead single, 'Blackout The Sun' which has a pleasing balance between chunky riffs and a pleasant melody that's seen throughout the entirety of the track which is how I would more than likely describe a majority of Dio's catalog.
The track 'False Flag' is a real standout to me. It has a Marilyn Manson/Type O Negative vocal sound during the verses as well as a heavy bass intro that almost reminds me of a track off an Alice In Chain's record. Incorporating these heavy characteristics into a grunge-esque sound. But even with these interesting combinations, the song manages to break out into a chorus that gives it the vibes needed to be a perfect addition to this record. Although Freeman's low growly vocals aren't as dramatic as Peter Steele's stylings, this track definitely brought a tune like 'Black No. 1' or AIC's 'Would' to mind. I would definitely mark it as one of my favorites. Songs like 'Year Of The Gun', 'Give Up The Ghost', and 'The Unknown' have intense classic metal riffs but also feel ultimately more progressive than any of the songs seen on 2016's 'Heavy Crown'.
As a whole, this album is incredibly solid and I think proves as a push forward. It definitely strays away from the obvious influence that 'Holy Diver' and 'The Last In Line' had on 'Heavy Crown' and rather mixes this Dio influence with their own chemistry creating a more varied sound.
'Landslide', a darker tune with some good 'ole melody (we LOVE melody) is currently at #10 on the Classic Rock Charts and I only expect this album to climb. If you haven't heard the record already, you can stream it on Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music, and more. But, even with the convenience of streaming, I highly recommend showing the band some love and PURCHASING the record.
Below you can check out the track listing for LAST IN LINE's 'II' as well as the band's current 2019 tour dates. Be sure to visit https://www.lastinlineofficial.com to check out tickets, merchandise, VIP packages, news, and more.
This record gets a 🤘🏼🤘🏼🤘🏼🤘🏼.5 / 5 from us at MA Entertainment Global.
"II" Track Listing:
1. Intro 2. Black Out The Sun 3 Landslide 4. Gods And Tyrants
5. Year Of The Gun 6. Give Up The Ghost 7. The Unknown 8. Sword From The Stone 9. Electrified 10. Love And War 11. False Flag 12. The Light
LAST IN LINE 2019 Tour Dates:
Mar 20th — Bogarts — Cincinnati, OH
Mar 21st — Cheers Live Music Venue — Midlothian, IL
Mar 22nd — Arcada Theater — St. Charles, IL
Mar 23rd — The Token Lounge — Westland, MI
April 5th — Buffalo Rose — Golden, CO
April 6th — Sunshine Studios Live — Colorado Springs, CO
April 26th — Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino & Suites — Las Vegas, NV
April 27th — Ramona Mainstage — Ramona, CA
May 3rd — Mulcahy's Pub and Concert Hall — Wantagh, NY
May 4th — The Chance Theater — Poughkeepsie, NY
May 5th — Buffalo Iron Works — Buffalo, NY
May 6th — Jergel's Rhythm Grill — Warrendale, PA
May 8th — Sellersville Theater 1894 — Sellersville, PA
May 10th — Beacon Theater — Hopewell, VA
May 12th — Greasy Luck Brewpub — New Bedford, MA
Twitter: @STaylorOfficial / @maentglobal