The final Warner Bros. release for Dio after an 11-year run of hard-edged post-Sabbath recordings, Strange Highways is almost a return to early '80s form for a group that hadn't done anything particularly inspiring since 1984's Last in Line. Joining the band's namesake vocalist Ronnie James Dio on this 1994 release is an all-star lineup, including long-time drumming cohort Vinny Appice, bassist Jeff Pilson (most notably of Dokken, and an nice addition to the group, especially live), and unknown guitarist Tracy G. Dio is in fine voice as usual, especially on "Hollywood Black" and the emotive opener "Jesus, Mary & the Holy Ghost." G. provides a nice, generally staccato guitar flow that harkens back to the glory days when Vivian Campbell filled the six-string slot in the group's finest lineup. Original drummer Appice seems to have lost some energy, tone, and sharpness by the time of this release, which is too bad considering that he had formerly personified all those qualities. As a unit, however, Dio prove they can lay down some deadly riffs, as songs like "Pain" and "Firehead" keep a nice momentum going throughout this return to solo work for Ronnie James Dio after a brief second tour of duty with Black Sabbath. Strange Highways is a solid effort with some of Dio's better late-career material, powerful singing, and strong performances from G. and Pilson.
AllMusic Review by Jason Anderson