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Flashback Album Review: Dio - Holy Diver
To every metalhead and everyone in the world who has ever flashed the famous devil horns, you owe it to one man, Ronnie James Dio. Dio wasn’t a big man (he was 5’4”), but his voice had the power of giants. His vocal range and stage presence and power reflecting in every project he was involved in was above everything out there. From his own solo work, to joining Black Sabbath, singing with hard rockers Rainbow with Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple fame, and reuniting with members of Sabbath in Heaven & Hell. Dio’s voice is one of the most iconic voices in heavy metal history. Dio started his solo career with what some would say, would be the most iconic debut album in heavy metal history with 1983’s Holy Diver.
A driving opening track, “Stand Up and Shout”, the amazing opening riff done by Vivian Campbell alone that sets the bar for the record and the band jumps over the bar and into the stratosphere. Dio’s vocals are powerful on this track and every track on the album, showcasing how diverse his vocal range is with every note, but also how you don’t need vocal effects to amplify the power and force that Dio brings when he sings. Drummer Vinny Appice brings a good rhythm section to the track as well and throughout the album along with Vivian Campbell and his amazing solos throughout the record.
Next is the iconic “Holy Diver”, the ambient build up builds a sense of tension, setting the listener up for when Campbell starts playing that legendary riff. I still get chills when I hear Dio’s vocals start up. Vocal harmonies are so enjoyable to the ear when he starts singing the title of the song. I still air guitar the solo of this song every time I hear it. Metalcore titans Killswitch Engage did an amazing cover of this song in 2007, but you cannot beat the original.
The song “Gypsy” starts out with an opening scream that reminds me of Roger Daltrey of The Who. I love the galloping bass and guitar during Campbell’s solo. The entire song is a good toe-tapper and such a great song. To me, it even sounds, almost like if Fleetwood Mac made a heavy metal song, and Dio makes it work and the band’s musicianship make it their own.
An 80’s metal style riff in the beginning of “Caught in The Middle” sounds so nostalgic today, but it sounds so good 40 years later. The riff, gives off a Van Halen-esque vibe to it but with a way better singer rocking it. The song almost has a power ballad like feel to the song but still sounds heavy which is a unique combination that the band are able to pull off successfully.
With “Rainbow in The Dark”, you start with that famous keyboard intro that adds that little touch of uniqueness to the track. Vocals shine along with the drum build up near the end of the track and with Dio’s constant singing of “You’re A Rainbow in The Dark”, it will definitely be stuck in your head throughout the day and make you want to sing it loud and proud no matter what you are doing.
Dio’s monumental debut set the stage for an impressive solo career. With 10 studio albums over 20 years, Dio stuck to a defining sound that was a major force in American heavy metal. We sadly lost Ronnie James Dio in 2010, but his voice, persona and most importantly, his music will live on and we will always look for the rainbow in the dark.
1) Stand Up and Shout (3:18)
2) Holy Diver (05:52)
3) Gypsy (3:38)
4) Caught in The Middle (4:18)
5) Don't Talk To Strangers (4:53)
6) Straight Through The Heart (4:34)
7) Invisible (5:26)
8) Rainbow in The Dark (4:14)
9) Shame on The Night (5:19)
SCORE: 10 / 10
LABEL: Mercury Records
FFO: Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Scorpions