DIO – The Studio Albums 1996-2004 [remastered 4-disc box-set] (2023) HQ *Exclusive*

DIO - The Studio Albums 1996-2004 [remastered 4-disc box-set] (2023) HQ *Exclusive* - full

BMG and Niji Entertainment Group Inc. have partnered to issue Limited Edition Deluxe CD & LP box sets of Ronnie James Dio’s final 4 studio albums on September 22nd. Titled ”DIO – The Studio Albums: 1996-2004”, the set include Angry Machines (1996), Magica (2000), Killing The Dragon (2002), and Master of The Moon (2004).
Wendy Dio says, “I am very excited to be working with BMG, a label that still has a passion for rock music. They will be making the complete Dio catalogue available again with some interesting surprises.”
Each of the four albums on offer here have been remastered housed in a sideloading box with newly created artwork especially designed for the box-set release.
“DIO The Studio Album Collection: 1996 – 2004” kicks off with ‘Angry Machines’. Recorded in 1996, the album features Tracy G on guitars, ex Dokken Jeff Pilson on bass, skin basher Vinny Appice and Scott Warren on keyboards.

‘Angry Machines’ is a strange entry in the Dio canon, with the band seemingly unsure of how to proceed against the commercial onslaught of grunge. Although the album boasts a number of cracking tracks, it remains a divisive among fans.
That said, Angry Machines starts very well indeed. Kicking off with the pummelling Institutional Man, Dio typically gives his all as his band lay down a series of punishing riffs. With a superlative performance from Appice just as he was out the door, Institutional Man is a bruising start to an album that doesn’t quite manage to maintain such intensity.
On the plus side, the first few tracks continue to impress. You have the rolling drum thunder of Don’t Tell The Kids, and the slow-paced Hunter Of The Heart, both tracks that suggest Angry Machines has a great deal to offer.
In contrast, the lengthy Stay Out Of Mind initially recalls early Soundgarden with its minor key guitars, the keyboard passage that haunts the mid section remains one of the album’s more questionable decisions. Of course, Dio is one of the few singers out there who could comfortably stand shoulder to shoulder with the late, great Chris Cornell, and the first four minutes of Stay Out Of Mind are classic Dio, but the track is in dire need of editing.


With a completely new line-up (including guitarist Craig Goldy, returning from Dream Evil), and licking his wounds in the wake of Angry machines, Dio unleashed Magica, a bold concept record that returned to the more mythical trappings of his early career. Written from the villain’s perspective, Magica was originally planned to be the first part of an epic trilogy (tragically cut short by Dio’s death in 2010), and the conceptual framework reinvigorated Dio, who delivers a performance of confidence and power.
Setting the scene, the short, spoken-word Discovery and the orchestral bombast of Magica Theme pave the way for the mid-tempo metal of Lord Of The Last Day, which gets the album proper underway.

Then Fever Dreams is a cracking track in the vein of Holy Diver, it sees the band find their footing, marching in lockstep for the rest of the record. Next up, Turn To Stone sees Craig explore a bluesier side to his guitar playing, reminiscent of Gilmour’s work on Momentary Lapse Of Reason, before leading the band into the chugging main body of the song. It’s the sort of thing Dio could produce in his sleep, but it’s elevated by the voice of the man himself.
A short, spoken-word intro paves the way for the dark, dirty Feed My Head, an album highlight that is, somehow, eclipsed by the symphonic majesty of Eriel, which features some glorious guitar work, cinematic strings and a structure reminiscent of Operation Mindcrime.

Kicking off the second half, Simon Wright’s gargantuan drums announce the slab of road rock that is Challis and, if obligatory ballad As Long As it’s Not About Love ultimately feels overegged, it still offers a wonderful opportunity to hear that voice set against a more stripped-down arrangement than found elsewhere on the album.
Losing My insanity proves to be classic Dio, as does the prowling Otherworld – one last dose of classic metal before Magica and Lord Of The Last Day are treated to short reprises, rounding out the album (the Magica Story proving absent here).
There is, however, the 7″ offering the set’s only bonus cut. Electra was the last song to be recorded by Dio’s band before his death and, although it’s a belting track, it’s also a painful reminder of what was lost on May 16th, 2010. It’s a worthy addition, but you can’t help but wish they’d been more generous with the extras given just how much material there is out there.

On Magica Dio sounds invigorated by the conceptual framework and fantastic narrative, and his band more than step up to the plate to meet his demands. The resultant album is hugely enjoyable, with the only tragedy being that Dio never got to finish the proposed trilogy.


Keeping Jimmy Bain (bass) and Simon Wright (drums) from the previous album, Dio appointed Doug Aldritch (Whitesnake) as the new guitarist for 2002’s Killing The Dragon.
With Magica having clearly refocused Dio and his band, Killing The Dragon has a tough, metallic sound that harks back to Holy Diver, and the title track gets the album off to a cracking start. Aldritch’s solo, rendered with great clarity within the mix, is something of a showstopper, announcing his presence with considerable, foot-on-the-monitor flourish.
Keeping the pace taught, Along Came A Spider makes good use of Aldritch’s Whitesnake experience, with a bluesier touch augmenting the heavy metal thunder, whilst Dio delivers his vocal with all the power and authority he can muster.
It’s a powerful opening that Killing The Dragon offers, make no mistake, and if such classic metal posturing was not entirely in vogue in 2002, it has certainly found its time now.

By the time the lengthy Scream comes into view, it’s clear that Dio and his band have hit their stride – it boasts a strong riff, a typically blistering vocal from Dio, and an addictive melody. The monstrous ebb and flow of Rock And Roll, with its delicate acoustic introduction and echoes of Kashmir, more than makes up for it, as Dio pays tribute to his life-long muse. It’s an album highlight and, although Push was the album’s hit, it’s neither as worthy as Rock And Roll nor Scream, suggesting that Spitfire Records were not entirely on the ball when it came to promoting the record.

Another fine track emerges next, with the slow-paced doom of Guilty, a song that serves as a precursor to the sound that Dio would craft with Heaven and Hell just a few years later. Next up, eerie synths and thunderous drums open the dark-hearted Throw Away Children, a suitably apocalyptic piece over which Dio provides a towering vocal. Even the addition of a children’s choir at the conclusion (usually a recipe for disaster) fails to derail things, the subtle mix meaning that it actually makes the track unnerving rather than syrupy.
The pace picks up on the surging, Deep Purple-esque Before The Fall, and then Cold Feet rounds the album out.
Killing The Dragon got a lukewarm reception upon its release, and it’s a worthy addition to any Dio collection.


The final album in this set, Master Of The Moon sees another line-up shift with Craig Goldy (guitars) returning from the Magica line-up, and Jeff Pilson (bass) returning for his first album with Dio since Angry Machines. The last studio album recorded under Dio’s own name, Masters Of The Moon is another LP that seemed to suffer at the hands of the media, primarily because traditional heavy metal had fallen out of favour a touch back in 2004, but there’s a grit to the performance that deserved better.

Right from the start, with the whip-crack of One More For The Road, Dio and his band sound fired up and combative. Even better is the title track, a metallic beast with huge, doom-laden riffs and a typically compelling vocal.
Built around a surprising, AC/DC-esque riff, The End Of The World has a bluesy swagger to it, while the chugging Shivers is a track that hits a headbanger’s dream of a groove towards its conclusion, with only the decision to fade the track down a minor disappointment.
Scott Warren (keyboards) comes into his own on The Man Who Would Be King, an initially mournful piece that goes on to recall Deep Purple / Rainbow at their heaviest by its conclusion.

An album highlight is the strange, keyboard-washed doom of The Eyes, a track that sees Dio experimenting with his core sound and delivering a strong piece in the process. The fast-paced Living The Lie is classic Dio, although I Am is rather more pedestrian, despite a convincing vocal performance.
Death By Love, however, is a belter and Craig Goldy delivers one hell of a solo, more than making up for its lacklustre predecessor. The quality remains high to the very end and In Dreams concludes the album in fine style, bringing both it, and this box set to a strong close.

Master Of The Moon is an underrated album in Dio’s cannon and is ripe for reassessment. Most of the songs are pretty much classic Dio, with Shivers, The Eyes, and Death By Love all standing out as particular highlights.
If you had lost your faith by 2004, head back and see what you missed, Dio was firing on all cylinders throughout this unsung period of his career.


Disc 1 Angry Machines (remastered)
01 – Institutional Man
02 – Don’t Tell the Kids
03 – Black
04 – Hunter of the Heart
05 – Stay Out of My Mind
06 – Big Sister
07 – Double Monday
08 – Golden Rules
09 – Dying in America
10 – This Is Your Life

Ronnie James Dio (vocals)
Tracy G (guitars)
Jeff Pilson (bass)
Vinny Appice (drums)
Scott Warren (keyboards)


Disc 2 Magica (remastered)
01 – Discovery
02 – Magica Theme
03 – Lord of the Last Day
04 – Fever Dreams
05 – Turn to Stone
06 – Feed My Head
07 – Eriel
08 – Challis
09 – As Long as It’s Not About Love
10 – Losing My Insanity
11 – Otherworld
12 – Magica (reprise)
13 – Lord of the Last Day (reprise)
14 – Electra [Bonus Track]

Ronnie James Dio (vocals)
Craig Goldy (guitars)
Jimmy Bain (bass)
Simon Wright (drums)


Disc 3 Killing The Dragon (remastered)
01 – Killing The Dragon
02 – Along Comes A Spider
03 – Scream
04 – Better In The Dark
05 – Rock & Roll
06 – Push
07 – Guilty
08 – Throw Away Children
09 – Before The Fall
10 – Cold Feet

Ronnie James Dio (vocals)
Doug Aldrich (guitars)
Jimmy Bain (bass)
Simon Wright (drums)


Disc 4 Master of The Moon (remastered)
01 – One More For The Road
02 – Master Of The Moon
03 – The End Of The World
04 – Shivers
05 – The Man Who Would Be King
06 – The Eyes
07 – Living The Lie
08 – I Am
09 – Death By Love
10 – In Dreams

Ronnie James Dio (vocals)
Craig Goldy (guitar)
Jeff Pilson (bass)
Simon Wright (drums)
Scott Warren (keyboards)



You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.