DIO — Holy Diver

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DIO - Holy Diver cover
4.35 | 135 ratings | 11 reviews
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Album · 1983

Filed under Heavy Metal


1. Stand Up and Shout (3:18)
2. Holy Diver (5:51)
3. Gypsy (3:38)
4. Caught in the Middle (4:17)
5. Don't Talk to Strangers (4:53)
6. Straight Through the Heart (4:34)
7. Invisible (5:25)
8. Rainbow in the Dark (4:14)
9. Shame on the Night (5:19)

Total Time: 41:31


- Ronnie James Dio / vocals, keyboards
- Vivian Campbell / guitars
- Jimmy Bain / bass, keyboards
- Vinny Appice / drums

About this release

Release date: May 23rd, 1983
Label: Mercury Records

Remastered and reissued in 2005 by Rock Candy Records with a bonus audio interview with Ronnie James Dio.

Thanks to Time Signature, Pekka, diamondblack, Unitron for the updates

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Dio seems to excel everywhere he appears. He lead Rainbow to the top in the 70’s, reinvigorated Black Sabbath for their (in my opinion) best albums ever, and then quit at the top of his game to do his own thing. And yeah, it was another success; Holy Diver is a monster of an album.

Dio took the energy and flash of Rainbow and married it to the dark moodiness of Sabbath, and dropped something that triumphed almost anything either band had produced. His vocals are top notch as always, and now he’s free to do what he wants with them rather than bend to the wishes of another band. However, saying they steal the show is far from the truth. Guitarist Vivian Campbell is a master riff writer, and his guitar melodies play off of Dio’s hooks flawlessly.

As far as classic Heavy Metal goes, this is near the top.
siLLy puPPy
Ronnie James Dio declares independence with gusto on his first solo outing HOLY DIVER. To be accurate this was the band effort that he created and directed that utilized his last name. The leading track “Stand Up And Shout” is a ferocious and enthusiastic tribute to this independence after being a subordinate talent to Ritchie Blackmore in Rainbow and Tony Iommi in Black Sabbath. Well, I should say regaining his independence since he had been a founder of many bands since the 50s including The Vegas Kings aka Ronnie & The Redcaps and then Ronnie & The Rumblers as well as his 70s band Elf. This band effort includes some formidable talent in the metal world in 1983. Vivian Campbell was an up and coming guitarist who matched the intensity (but not technical prowess) of the talent of Randy Rhoads. The drum abusing beast known as Vinny Appice was snagged away from Sabbath after RJ DIO left and seems more on fire than anything he ever played with Sabbath or Rick Derringer. Also on board was Jimmy Bain on bass who RJ DIO played with in Rainbow.

This is one of those magical albums for me. This combination of musicians at this time in musical history all managed to channel some strange transitional energies that made a fantastic album that incorporated the fantastical oriented energy of early Rainbow combined with the dark doomy magic of Sabbath and then included the youthful up-and-coming fury of the evolving genre of metal in the early 80s via the melodic power playing of Vivian Campbell. The recipe is a complete success in my book. I find this album to be the pinnacle in Ronnie James Dio's lengthy career where all the different eras that he represented collaborated perfectly to create this highly melodic, mystical and energetic traditional metal masterpiece. After this album DIO as a band would start the slow descent into losing what this album started but for a brief moment in musical history all the stars aligned for Ronnie James DIO in his nascent leadership of his new band and the result is an album that I have loved from first listen to the present.

Listening to this so again so many years later I can understand if it may sound outdated to newcomers simply because this album was so influential. It has a black metal “feel” to it without musically sounding like that subgenre. The title track is one of the first examples of a substantial ambient intro for any metal band that I can think of. That intro still gives me chills and creates a “evil” feel to it before the actually metal begins. Yes, this could be considered “proto” in some ways but for me this album still holds up quite well even if the ideas have been improved upon and surpassed. DIO is Latin for God and at this moment in metal history he was just that. CLASSIC!!!!
"Dio has rocked for a long, long tiiiiime..." And for more or less his whole solo career, he's rocked to the blueprint set on Holy Diver. That's no great failing, mind, because as far as blueprints go it's a damn good one. With a mixture of heavier numbers (such as the title track or Shame On the Night, which could for all the world have been an off-cut from one of Dio's albums with Sabbath), lighter, more accessible pieces (like opener Stand Up and Shout), and tracks that chart an interesting course between those extremes (the synthesiser-enhanced Rainbow In the Dark), it's a brilliant evocation of Dio's sonic universe, establishing his solo band as a force to be reckoned with.
Ronnie James Dio is one of my favourite vocalists and this is his debut album under his last name DIO. This was the first project he got involved with after leaving BLACK SABBATH having released two classic albums with them in "Heaven And Hell" and "Mob Rules". He brought with him from SABBATH fellow New Yorker and Italian Vinnie Appice on drums while scooping up his former band-mate from RAINBOW bassist Jimmy Bain. Add guitarist Vivian Campbell and this gem was released in 1983. Ronnie wrote all the lyrics and music and also produced this record. I have to mention the album cover that at first made me smile back in the day when i saw it in the record stores but later it almost haunted me. I used to run on the beach very faithfully and once we got into November it mean't running in complete darkness down there(no artificial lighting at all) other than the moonlight. It was actually really cool and surreal at the same time. And yes i did wipe out many times but usually in the Winter months when i was running on ice and snow. This picture though reminds me of November, especially the sky and often my thoughts would drift to this album cover for some strange reason. I never did see the giant demonic figure shown here and i'm not a priest so yeah it was all in my mind(haha). The music here is great but i'll take the two earlier albums with SABBATH over this one. Love that track "Rainbow In The Dark" which almost seems out of place but it works. Also the title track and "Don't Talk To STrangers" would round out my top three. This would go platinum for the band making it an obvious success for Dio and the boys.
Diver What can be said that hasn’t been already ? Holy Diver is one of the most respected albums in Rock and Metal and Ronnie James Dio himself is one of the most talented and respected artists in the world, be it in Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath or Dio.

Put simply, Holy Diver is one of the few albums that lives up to its hype. The album is as good as people say it is and there is a reason is held in such high esteem, the sheer quality of the music and of course, Ronnie James Dio’s much lauded voice and performance.

The album contains a good mixture of material of various tempos and moods, from the fast and heavy (such as opener Stand Up And Shout) to mid paced numbers like the title track to more melodic numbers like Rainbow In The Dark and my personal favourite Dio track Caught In The Middle.

The great thing about Dio is that it was always more than just a solo act from a famous singer, but an imensly talented band in its own right and Vivian Campbell’s guitar work is absolutely fantastic. The rhythm section of Jimmy Bain on bass and Vinny Appice on drums is rock solid and provides absolutely first class playing and delivery.

One thing that sets Holy Diver apart is that the album features considerably less Keyboards than the next few Dio albums, giving it a distinct sound even in the Dio catologue, seeing as Claude Schnell had not yet been hired when the album was written.

If you are thinking about getting Holy Diver I’d strongly recommend that you do, you will find one of the most enjoyable albums you’ve ever heard. This isn’t the sort of album that you listen to one or two times and then shelve forever, this is the sort of thing you’ll still be listening to for months and months.

Holy Diver is the debut "solo" album from former Elf/Black Sabbath/Rainbow frontman Ronnie James Dio. Technically, it wasn't a solo album but a band project using his last name. However, over the years he remained the one constant member throughout, thus the "solo" label. This album, possibly single-handedly, established the heavy metal sound of the 80's to be used by an untold number of followers. Holy Diver, along with the follow-up album, The Last in Line, are the two essential releases from Dio that all metal fans must have. This debut deserving the masterpiece status with The Last In Line being just a touch below.

This album is strong from top to bottom. The album starts out with the great heavy metal anthem Stand Up And Shout, which is what heavy metal is all about. The highlights of this album include its two hit songs Holy Diver and Rainbow In The Dark, which is one of the greatest heavy metal songs of all times. The remainder of the album is also quite strong with great tracks such as Don't Talk to Strangers, Straight Through The Heart, and Invisible.

Ronnie James Dio has one of the top 5 voices in heavy metal and this album displays this voices at its finest. The drumming from fellow Black Sabbath refugee Vinny Appice is exquisite throughout. Whereas fellow Rainbow refugee, Jimmy Bain's bass playing completes the hard hitting rhythm section. Relatively unknown guitarist Vivian Campbell shines with his playing filling the album with a number of excellent riffs and quickly established himself as one of my favorite guitarists.

One of the keys to my enjoyment of this album is the band's glorious use of tempo changes. Songs starting out soft and beautiful turning quickly into hard-hitting metal bombardments of drums, bass, and guitar riffs. These tempo changes would be somewhat perfected by Metallica in the near future.

This album truly is a masterpiece and belongs in the collection of all fans of heavy metal. Dio went on to create 9 additional albums, but none of them, including the Last In Line managed to reach the heights of Holy Diver.

Time Signature
Straight through the heart...

Genre: traditional heavy metal

Ronnie James Dio, heavy metal legend and all round good guy, passed away on May 16th, 2010, but he lives on in his music, and this album, the first album by his band Dio, certainly is a legendary heavy metal masterpiece, which, despite being first released back in 1983, and despite being traditional 80s heavy metal, still stands the test of time.

This owes in a large part to Ronnie James Dios amazing vocals, but also to his ability to compose solid hard rock songs, and "Holy Diver" contains nothing but solid hard rock and metal songs from the heavy title track (which has later been covered by Killswich Engage) over the uptempo opener "Stand Up And Shout" to the more commercial "Rainbow in the Dark". There is also some great guitar work by Viv Campbell on this masterpiece of a metal album.

This belongs in any heavy metal collection!

Members reviews

While Dio’s albums are decidedly hit and miss for me, this first outing is unquestionably classic, and established all his hallmarks straight off the bat. The epic tendencies of Rainbow and the darkness of Sabbath gave way to a streamlined but distinctive traditional metal approach. The songs on “Holy Diver” are built from the ground up with just a few strong riffs played with hearty conviction, complemented by Vivian Campbell’s show stopping lead guitar (pre-Def Leppard, he was quite something!) and a solid rhythm section keeping it all going. Each song stands apart proudly though. There are slower, reflective tracks (“Caught in the Middle”), pounding, fast rockers (“Stand Up and Shout”) and mighty metal monoliths (“Rainbow in the Dark”) on offer that never wear out their welcome.

Dio’s voice is of course spectacular, with a power, presence and range he was never to lose. It’s impossible to get tired of, and is instantly recognisable. The album also features some of his more interesting, and strange (i.e. the title track) lyrics. Every song is a winner, but my personal choice picks are “Rainbow in the Dark”, “Invisible”, “Don’t Talk to Strangers” and the title track, but no doubt any one off this album is someone’s very favourite they will defend to the death.

I’ve not got much else to add that others haven’t, except that this is an essential listen - but no doubt you already have (and if not, why not!?) The recent remastered edition contains a bonus audio interview with the man himself which should prove insightful for even the mildly curious.

RIP Ronnie!
Dio had arguably already been the key element in the masterpieces that are Rainbow’s Rising and Black Sabbath’s Heaven and Hell. I don’t think there was any doubt he could go it alone and he proved it beyond any shadow of a doubt with his band’s debut Holy Diver. He did, however, make some remarkably shrewd choices of musicians to assist him. He took Vinny Appice from Black Sabbath with him on drums and Jimmy Bain his band-mate from Rainbow on bass and keyboards. His coup de grace though was the discovery of guitarist Vivian Campbell. All in all this was an incredible heavy metal recipe.
16 MAY will be one of the saddest days in the history of rock!Today,passed away one of the most representative voices of rock...RONNIE JAMES DIO!He was an absolute major performer and a heavenly gifted vocalist!Some people said about Dio..THE LITTLE MAN WITH A GOLDEN VOICE!And sure he had a wonderful voice!If we only think at what he did with RAINBOW...BLACK SABBATH and in his prodigal solo career...all our respect for him is ENDLESS!!!67 years old is not at all an age to die,but he burned like a candle on the altar of rock and offered so much for the people who love honest and straight from the heart rock!His anger in his voice and the passioned interpretation will never be forgotten!For example CATCH THE RAINBOW will remain forever one of the most sensitive ballads in the history of rock and WE ROCK one of the most amazing hard rock power songs!HOLY DIVER was his debut solo album and is one of the most important albums in rock!Sensational songs,top class from STAND UP AND SHOUT to SHAME ON THE NIGHT,on this album DIO shines literally and offers some real anthems of rock!VIVIAN CAMPBELL was a revelation as guitarist and the whole album is so fresh and so well composed,really impressive!DIO came on this album with a vengeance after leaving BLACK SABBATH and proved that he was a major composer in BS!!!DIO's wonderful career was something magical and his musical legacy will never be forgotten!All our love,respect and regrets to one real rocker ,one of the most important vocalist of all time.a true ROCK ICON!GOD BLESS YOUR GREAT HEART,RONNIE and smoke a cigar in HEAVEN or HELL...with other immortals...500 stars for a monumental album!
Caught in the middle (between Rainbow and Black Sabbath)

I'm surprised to see that I’m the first person to review this classic, the very first album by Dio and according to many their best. Just like Ozzy Osbourne had done a couple of years earlier, Ronnie James Dio came straight out of Black Sabbath to form his own self-titled band. It is indeed possible, even plausible, that Ronnie James was directly inspired by Ozzy’s solo success and thought that ‘if Ozzy can do it, so can I’. And it turned out he could indeed!

As you all know, Ronnie James Dio was the lead singer in Rainbow before he replaced Ozzy as the lead vocalist in Black Sabbath and the formula for Dio's music is clearly a crossover between Dio-era Rainbow (Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow, Rising & Long Live Rock 'N' Roll) and Dio-era Black Sabbath (Heaven And Hell & Mob Rules) but adapted for the 80’s. As a fan of both Rainbow and Black Sabbath, this is a good formula for me even if it is hardly groundbreaking.

Again like Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie James too gathered a distinguished cast around him with Jimmy Bain (who previously played with Ronnie in Rainbow) on bass and Vinny Appice (who played with him in Black Sabbath) on drums. The guitarist on Holy Diver was Vivian Campbell, who like Randy Rhoads in Ozzy’s band, was similarly very young and basically unknown before and also very talented. Ironically, Jake E. Lee was part of the initial rehearsals that led up to Holy Diver but he left to join Ozzy’s band and Lee can be heard on the latter’s third album Bark At The Moon that was released the same year as Holy Diver.

Dio did not have a permanent keyboard player at this point but both Jimmy Bain and Ronnie James himself played keyboards on the album. Claude Schnell joined Dio for the tour in support of Holy Diver and then went on to play on subsequent studio albums. Also the production was handled by Ronnie James himself.

Both the title track and the catchy Rainbow In The Dark became hits and Stand Up And Shout and Don’t Talk To Strangers too became strong live favourites for the rest of Dio’s long career. In 2005, Dio would go on a special tour on which they performed the Holy Diver album in its entirety in the original running order which proves just how important this album was for the band and its fans.

However, I don’t think the album is uniformly excellent. I wholly agree that the title track and particularly Don’t Talk To Strangers are eternal classics of traditional Heavy Metal and several of the other songs are great too, but I don’t think the album as a whole reaches the heights of previous classic albums Ronnie James sang on like Rainbow’s Rising and Black Sabbath’s Heaven And Hell. Gypsy and Straight Through The Heart are the least good songs here, in my opinion.

The slow and heavy closer Shame On The Night seems to be modeled on the songs that closed Heaven And Hell and Mob Rules respectively. But nothing by Dio is as heavy as Black Sabbath and Holy Diver is clearly a more polished affair than those Black Sabbath classics.

Many Metal fans probably dislike the infectious Rainbow In The Dark with its heavily keyboard-driven melody that in many ways resembles what Asia was doing at the time, but I kind of like it, actually! Invisible is another favourite of mine and I particularly like the first part when Ronnie sings the immortal words "If your circle stays unbroken, then you're a lucky man, 'Cause it never, never, never has for me"

Holy Diver is an excellent addition to any Metal collection, but make sure you get those classic Rainbow and Black Sabbath albums first!

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