Saturday, May 25, 2013

Dio - Holy Diver

Today (May 25th) marks the thirtieth anniversary of Holy Diver, the debut album from the American heavy metal band Dio. This Platinum seller went to number 56 on the US Billboard Hot 200, number 18 in Sweden and number 13 in the UK.

The line-up for the band at the time consisted of Ronnie James Dio (lead vocals and synthesizers), Vinny Appice (drums), Jimmy Bain (bass and keyboards), and Vivian Campbell (guitar).

Side one starts with “Stand Up and Shout”; a live version appeared on the B-side of the second single. The lyrics are motivational and encourage the listener to be the best he can be with the talents he has. It has a thundering musical accompaniment to get you instantly pumped up.

The first single was the title track “Holy Diver”; it went to number 72 in the UK, number 60 in Sweden, number 52 in Germany and number 40 on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock charts. It has been ranked at number 43 on VH-1’s Top 100 Hard Rock Songs list. The album cut features an extended instrumental opening that sets up a mystical mood. Some have said that the guitar riff reminds them of Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” - I can definitely see that.

“Gypsy” paints a tale of giving in to temptation. This one has a bit of an AC/DC sound to it, especially given Dio’s vocal delivery here.

“Caught in the Middle” sums up that feeling of being trapped between the situation you are in and the one you want to be in. The lyrics encourage the listener to move beyond the fear and take a chance at what you desire.

The B-side to the first single was “Don’t Talk to Strangers”. It has an acoustic opening that adds a bit of a calm in this album’s normal raging metal storm.

Side two launches with one “Straight Through the Heart”, a live version of which also appeared on the B-side to the second single. This one, with its grinding groove, speaks of how difficult life can be but that we need to persevere despite how painful it can be.

“Invisible” speaks to the youth who have had a difficult time growing up and wish they could just disappear for awhile to find some solitude. I like the opening guitar solo.

“Rainbow in the Dark” as the second single from the album; it peaked at number 46 in the UK and number 14 on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock charts. VH-1 ranked it at number 13 on its list of the Top 40 Greatest Metal Songs. Lyrically, it reflects Dio’s feelings after leaving Black Sabbath. Rainbow also was the name of a band Dio had previously been part of. Like the title track, this one seems to stand out in my mind too as one I heard a good bit of back in the early 80's; the synth hook is one that you tend to not forget just because of how it plays up against the rest of the hard rocking music.

“Shame on the Night” closes out the record. I like the howling wolf at the start and the simple guitar riff; it gives that chilling alone-in-the-dark feeling that quickly tingles up your spine.

Metal did not have a big place in my music library back in 1983. Most of my exposure to Dio and songs from Holy Diver came from the local album-rock station and my high school best friend. This was the type of stuff we would listen to when we hung out in his room on weekend nights, working on comic strips or playing video games on his Commodore 64.

In listening to the whole album for this review, I have to give this one a solid thumbs up. I can certainly see why fans call it one of their favorite Dio solo releases; it most definitely rocks hard.

1 comment:

HERC said...

I had the pleasure of seeing Dio twice in concert in his prime. He was a force to be reckoned with for sure. So much power from such a small man.

It makes me more than a little sad that metal was not a larger part of your music collection growing up. It remains an integral part of my daily musical life to this day.

Thank God you had your best friend, your local rock station and your brother to help round out your musical sensibilities.