Dio – Holy Diver

ARTIST: Dio 220px-DioHolyDiver
TITLE: Holy Diver
YEAR RELEASED: 1983
CHART ACTION: #56 US, #13 UK
SINGLES: Holy Diver (#40 US Mainstream, #72 UK), Rainbow in the Dark (#14 US Mainstream, #46 UK)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Stand Up and Shout, Don’t Talk to Strangers, Straight Through the Heart (not the Bryan Adams song, thank GOD!)
LINEUP: Ronnie James Dio, Vivian Campbell, Jimmy Bain, Vinny Appice
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Tempestuous but tremendous metal lead singer forms his own band and bests any work his former employers in Rainbow and Black Sabbath released around that time.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Ronnie James Dio, RIP, the man who popularized the metal horns, and famously clashed with Ritchie Blackmore, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler (which, frankly, isn’t that hard to do), decided that there was one way to keep going and not have all these arguments – form his own band.

So he took Appice from his version of Sabbath, grabbed Bain from the projects he had been working on (Bain was fired from Rainbow earlier, imagine that), and found Campbell in a UK metal band, and went about and rocked it up.

What resulted was an album that was kind of a surprise in that it was straight forward and rocked just as hard as Sabbath, and wasn’t as proggy as his time with Rainbow. Campbell proved to be an excellent foil as a guitarist and added great riffs to the material. His work on “Straight Through the Heart” during the verse and chorus is sneakily stellar with his flourishes.

This album rather much grows on you. Some of the songs aren’t top notch (not a big fan of the ballady parts), but Dio knows how to use melody and hooks and so they’re memorable. Of course “Holy Diver” and “Rainbow in the Dark” are just out-and-out metal classics (even if the latter has keyboards (OMG!)). This is definitely a great insight to mainstream 1983 metal.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The band’s mascot is named Murray. I…I did not know that.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, with B-sides and live cuts and even an interview disk.

GRADE: A-: Maybe this has really grown on me. A while ago I used to skip quite a few of the songs, but now, I recognize the whole thing as a good album with two all-time tracks.

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