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Ronnie James Dio hit the solo scene hard in 1983 with the release of 'Holy Diver'. After a fallout with Black Sabbath due to the mixing of "Live Evil" (1982), the band split in half and Dio took drummer Vinnie Appice with him to form the foundation for DIO. They recruited former Rainbow (whom Dio had been vocalist for in the 1970s) bassist Jimmy Bain and Sweet Savage guitarist Vivian Campell to fill those respective spots. Together these four would create a masterpiece of an album. It would be called 'Holy Diver' and was released in May 1983.
In my own terms, DIO manages to pull you in with the opening track 'Stand Up and Shout'. A fast-paced number which tells us to ignore the people who try to hold us back and express yourself as you see fit. The title track of 'Holy Diver' is up next and sends the message of not everything being as it appears to be in this world. The cover of the album shows DIO's mascot Murray drowning a priest but Dio has said many times, "why is a devil drowning a priest?" how do we know that the priest isn't drowning the devil?
Despite having only nine tracks (though I believe the remastered version has extra tracks), the album really doesn't have a weak song. 'Caught in the Middle' is a great track with a nice melody to go along and a very catchy chorus line but what got me hooked on the song was the opening lyrics:
"Look deep inside of yourself, you might see someone you don't know."
Dio writes in metaphors and expresses it out into his music which works beautifully. He tells of his meanings for plenty of songs but everyone who listens to it can have a different view on what the song is about. What I take out of my favourite lyric in that song is "Even the angels have a devil." 'Don't Talk to Strangers' tells us that everything you choose to do in life has a consequence. 'Straight Through the Heart' tightens the grip and brings forth another heavy and melodic song and as left evident by many Metal bands is hard to perfect, but DIO does it and DIO does it well. 'Invisible' starts off like a ballad and then rushes into the fast-paced music which is a common theme for DIO. 'Rainbow in the Dark' would have been suitable as the final track but it comes in and seems to me to be about loneliness and yet upbeat with the music and maybe that's why I enjoy it. 'Shame on the Night' closes this masterpiece and opens with the howling of a wolf and a creepy little guitar line before bursting into another wolf howl and the creepy music starts again. The bass line makes this song, I think. Dio's voice does as well. This song speaks about the dangers of the night.
It doesn't matter if you're a fan of Heavy Metal or not, check this album out. With nine tracks and not a single one lacking, you are bound to find a track that you like. This album is worthy of the word "masterpiece". If you like Metal, this is an essential album to have, no doubts about that.