With a name lifted straight from a Dream Evil lyric, it’s only fitting that Dream Child is another group largely comprised of former Dio members (disciples if you will). Their debut album Until Death Do We Meet Again draws impulsive comparisons to Magica or Lock Up the Wolves, though they’re presented with a noticeable AOR sheen. A polished production job ensures that the keyboards and guitars are on near equal prominence, the bass and drums are basic but serviceable, and snarly vocals deliver plenty of melodies.
Fortunately, the songwriting is more adventurous than one would expect from something fresh off the Frontiers Records assembly line. Individual tracks may still be based around bombastic choruses and catchy riffs, but the structures often avoid verse-chorus formulas and occasionally reach seven and eight-minute lengths. Moments like the “Mountain King”-esque twists on “It Is What It Is” and the largely instrumental “Washed Upon the Shore” even draw comparisons to Savatage’s most theatrical outings.
The musicianship may not be technical enough to warrant a prog tag, but there are solid performances. Guitarist Craig Goldy is easily the star of the show, taking his signature biting tone to ambitious heights that make his Ritchie Blackmore influence even more apparent. Vocalist Diego Valdez also does a pretty good job, even if his Dio impersonation ends up sounding more like Jorn Lande or Nils Patrik Johansson than the real thing.
Unfortunately, the very things that help Dream Child’s debut album stand out also cripple it to a degree. Twelve tracks totaling to seventy minutes of music makes for an overwhelming listen, even if there aren’t any bad songs on here. It doesn’t help that Simon Wright’s drums are rather stiff most of the time. He does a decent enough job keeping time and shifting dynamics, but the energetic performances on “Midnight Song” make one wonder how the album would’ve turned out if the other songs had kept up the pace.
Overall, Dream Child’s debut album doesn’t perfectly execute its vision but the fact that it has a vision at all makes it stand more than 99% of these 80s sideman supergroups. It would’ve benefitted from a shaved runtime and livelier rhythms but the ability to imagine Ronnie James himself singing on this material must be a sign that the potential is there. Resurrection Kings is still my favorite of these Dio spinoffs, but diehards should enjoy this one just as much.
“You Can’t Bring Me Down”