Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Something Borrowed: "Temple of the King," Angel Dust/Rainbow

If you're going to cover a song by the mighty Ronnie James Dio, you'd better bring it. If you're going to cover one of my favorite songs by Dio, you'd better blow me away. Much to my surprise, Angel Dust did just that with this version of Rainbow's "Temple of the King."

The original song, easily my favorite Rainbow track and one of my favorites from the entirety of Dio's career, is a fairly simple tune. "Temple of the King" shows, perhaps, the beginnings of Richie Blackmore's leanings toward the medieval balladry that he has now pretty much hung up his Strat to pursue. There couldn't have been a better person to sing it than Dio, who turns it into high fantasy.

For their cover, German power metallers Angel Dust, stuck with the main theme of the song -- a good choice, and really the only one they could make. It begins much like the Rainbow version with a soft acoustic guitar and the vocal line of Dirk Thurisch. Let it be said that Thurisch is certainly no match for Dio, but there's enough character in his voice to make it work.

After the first verse, a keyboard line slowly begins to fade in until drums crash and distorted guitars inject an air of menace into the tune. It takes the darkness that was already in the Rainbow version and makes it just that much blacker. Add in a forlorn piano line and an addictive guitar run that keeps repeating itself throughout the heavy part of the tune, and I'm won over.

Angel Dust takes the big crescendos just a little farther than the original, and Thurisch for his part, hits some nice high notes.

The song ends where it began, bringing things back to the original, soft and mostly acoustic for the trip out.

Angel Dust doesn't top the original. That would be pretty much impossible. But I will say that I like this version just as much, and that's quite a compliment.

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