Top critical review
Good but not up to the usual standard
on 30 January 2008
The Last In Line was a high water mark for Dio in his solo career and nothing subsequently has come close to touching it's level of sheer craftsmanship and energy. Following it up was always going to be tricky and Sacred Heart really isn't up to the job. Whereas LIL crackled and sparkled with ideas, this is a fairly straightforward delivery of some pretty basic arrangements (in Dio terms).
Opener `King of Rock n Roll', like 'We Rock' and 'Stand Up and Shout' on previous Dio CDs, is a frenetic kick off, harping pack to Dio's Rainbow harder moments (e.g. think 'King of Rock N Roll'). However it is dogged throughout by an annoying fake crowd noise which is designed to give a live energy feeling to the song but simply sounds electronic and contrived. The title track Sacred Heart is up second as 'Holy Diver', 'Last In Line' and 'Dream Evil' all sat in their respective albums running order. This plodder is distinctly the weakest of the aforementioned armoury of title tracks. It's not bad but it just isn't up to Dio's normal standard, lumbering as it does to a conclusion through a jarring and annoying keyboard effect. `Another Lie is a straight forward, bass driven, rocker and distinctly a high point in terms of catchiness and power. `Rock N Roll Children' is a keyboard layered melodic radio friendly single which closes out what was side 1 on a high note, however `Hungry for Heaven' is twaddle and quickly despatched before the pairing of `Beat of a Heart' ( a song that transferred well to a live setting during the Sacred Hear Tour) and `Just Another Day' redeem the album back to 3 stars (the latter's opening riff copied straight from Black Sabbath's Neon Nights). Finally the album fizzles out with `Fallen Angels' and the wholly lamentable and limp `Shoot Shoot'.
The main problems with SH are that firstly Dio has a massive canon of quality work to compare it to and secondly the production is pedestrian so really doesn't lift the songs. Dio himself said that the internal strife within the band led to a substandard product and subsequently the departure of the guitarist Vivian Campbell to be replaced mid tour by Giuffria guitarist Craig Goldy. I am happy I own it for nostalgia reasons but it is really not as involving or as fresh as his earlier work.