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I've been fan of Dio's work in Black Sabbath for a number of years now but I never could get into this solo stuff. I mean, I always liked the song “Holy Diver” (what Heavy Metal fan doesn’t) but despite constant praise from a friend of mine, I never heard anything from Dio that really grabbed me. So it took me awhile but I happened upon Holy Diver used so I figured I didn't have much to lose, and at least I knew I was getting one good song. After many repeated listens over the past 6 months, I can only say wow! Holy Diver is definitely a keeper!
The two highlights of this CD are obvious: Dio’s vocals and Vivian Campbell’s guitar playing. Dio has an excellent voice that is truly unique and he sings with a lot of emotion on this release. Every song and chorus is memorable from a vocal standpoint and the melodic and driving guitars only add to the catchiness. Campbell is a solid rhythm player, laying down some good Hard Rock inspired riffs, with some really good leads.
“Stand Up And Shout” is really the only fast song on Holy Diver… it even has a strong Judas Priest feel. The rest of the songs, as mentioned, are largely mid-paced, with some progressive build-up here and there: see “Don’t Talk To Strangers”. Other stand out tracks (besides the obvious title track) are “Rainbow In The Dark” with its melodic synth and “Shame On The Night”. Not only did doom masters Solitude Aeternus cover this track, but I think a lot of Doom bands in the vein of Solitude Aeternus took heavy inspiration from this song; perhaps as much as they did from any single Black Sabbath song with the possible exception of the song “Black Sabbath”. Even though the songs are mostly mid-paced, the arrangements and vocal delivery make them all interesting and I will say that not one track sounds similar; this is also due in part to the unique atmosphere that always seems to surround Dio’s work.
I was very, very impressed with Holy Diver. It has even joined the ranks of my all time favorite Heavy Metal releases, and in just a short period of time. Any Heavy Metal fan who doesn’t own this, I give you the advice to not do what I did and wait 8 years to buy this.
Song Hightlights: All of them, although Gypsy is probably the weakest.