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Playing Around: Dio 

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Dio's coming to town. That's right, as in Ronnie James. The heavy-metal "man in black" has released a new album, Magica, along with former AC/DC member, drummer Simon Wright, guitarist and co-writer Craig Goldy, and bassist Jimmy Bain, who played with the Ronnie in the late '70s band Rainbow.

Magica is Ronnie's 21st album and the band's first new material in four years. Ronnie's first three were recorded with Elf, the next four with Rainbow, four with Black Sabbath, and ten as simply Dio. His long career in hard-edged guitar-driven bands has elevated Dio to legendary status in heavy metal circles, not only for the leader's 25 years of experience but for the grandiose, mysterious and dark songwriting that turns each album into a kind of musical gothic novel.

The latest creation tells the story of a book of spells through metaphor and musical flow, as well as a 20-minute narration by Ronnie James. Dio's fans praise the band's "literary" abilities, which are aptly showcased on Magica. More important than just plot and lyrical description, however, are the melodies and rhythms supporting the tales. Drawing from the early years of heavy metal as well as the Rainbow album Long Live Rock 'n' Roll and Black Sabbath's Mob Rules, Dio has tried to keep "bedrock metal" and "pounding metal doom" in the forefront, while sincerely trying to "support Ronnie's hopes for all those struggling with internal, societal or, indeed, spirit-based forms of evil."

Your anti-evil support group plays the Colorado Music Hall on Friday night. Tickets are $20, subject to service charge. Call 447-9797.

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