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'Cause the Words May Come Out Real - 95%

Twisted_Psychology, May 25th, 2018
Written based on this version: 1983, CD, Warner Bros. Records

One can’t overstate the dominant role that Ronnie James Dio played in his tenures with Rainbow and Black Sabbath. He may have been on equal footing with legendary control freaks like Tony Iommi and Ritchie Blackmore, but they were clearly accommodating their writing styles to match his instead of the other way around. Guys like Ian Gillan and Ozzy Osbourne seemed content with weaving their vocal lines around long-winded jams, but Ronnie was the kind of singer to demand that the riffs be played around him.

Thus, it isn’t too surprising that Dio’s debut album is such a streamlined affair. Songs like the title track and “Don’t Talk to Strangers” avoid running verse-chorus structures into the ground, but their arrangements still adhere to the vocal lines. There’s very little wiggle room for the musicians to meander about beyond brief but flashy solo sections and climactic codas that are only extended when Dio is either ad libbing or, in the case of the outro on “Shame on the Night,” has already finished saying what he wants to say.

Thankfully Dio surrounded himself with some extraordinarily talented musicians to keep this formula from reaching critical masses of self-indulgence. Bassist Jimmy Bain and drummer Vinnie Appice were reliable in their respective stints with Rainbow and Sabbath, and they both prove to be just as talented here. Appice puts more muscle here than he did on The Mob Rules and I swear Bain’s tone is one of the most recognizable in 80s metal.

Guitarist Vivian Campbell proved to be the group’s wild card. Plucked from Sweet Savage and now criminally underused in the likes of Def Leppard, his tone gives the riffs on “Stand Up and Shout” a razor-sharp bite, while his acrobatic leads give songs like “Invisible” a great deal of character. His performance is just as hungry as that of his mentor, but his contributions are tasteful enough to avoid stepping on anybody else’s toes.

Through all this early 80s bravado, the band was smart enough to remember that the songwriting matters above all else. There may not be anything as epic as the likes of “Heaven and Hell” or “Gates of Babylon,” but songs like the title track were clearly composed in the same spirit. “Rainbow in the Dark” is a classic in all its cheesy, keyboard drenched glory, and even the straightforward rockers like “Gypsy” and “Caught in the Middle” deserve attention.

Holy Diver could’ve easily been the power trip of a vocally gifted egomaniac, and it honestly may very well be one, but Dio’s delivery is based more on confidence than outright self-indulgence. The performances are all worthy of note and there is a slew of timeless classics throughout, even if the presentation can be rather dated at times. Bands like Iron Maiden and Metallica were the real trailblazers of 1983, but I don’t need to tell you that this is still mandatory listening.

Highlights:
“Stand Up and Shout”
“Holy Diver”
“Don’t Talk to Strangers”
“Invisible”
“Rainbow in the Dark”

Originally published at http://indymetalvault.com

Shame on this Album's Fanbase - 65%

Superchard, April 15th, 2018

After releasing one masterpiece after another, it was about damn time Ronnie James Dio got his own solo band in 1983. All the way up to this point it was just a relentless barrage of classic albums from the Ritchie Blackmore led Rainbow to the heavier leanings of Iommi's Black Sabbath. He even did doo wop in the late 1950's and 60's. DOO WOP. Seriously, what other heavy metal singer can you say has done that, and done it within the context of its relative time frame? I wouldn't be surprised if Holy Diver ended up becoming Ronnie James Dio's hottest selling album. Over time, this album has been hyped up to the legendary status that every heavy metal enthusiast should get their hands on.

And it deserves the praise that it gets, Holy Diver is a decent album from start to finish, with only a few flaws. For one, Dio's solo band, generally speaking has always had this tendency of playing it safe and this album is no exception to that rule. There's nothing but classic hit after classic hit here, but it's all pretty radio friendly and ends up feeling really stale to my ears. The songwriting is fine tuned, perhaps too fine tuned. I can only handle so many songs that fade out at the end without any proper ending to them, I can only handle so many cliche guitar riffs and solos, I can only handle so much treading on the beaten path. This album straddles the line between pop and heavy metal and unlike something along the lines of Judas Priest's Screaming for Vengeance, I just can't help but come to terms with the hard pill to swallow that Dio's Holy Diver just doesn't hold up.

Which brings me to the other critical flaw of Dio's solo band in general. Vivian Campbell sucks. I know, most of you reading this are already foaming at the mouth and going red in the eyes before I can even explain myself. For Holy Diver specifically, I can only cherry pick so many good guitar riffs because the majority of what I hear from this guy, as I said before just sounds so cliche. The opening track is the same cliche riffing you've heard as the opener for every Saxon album ever made, "Holy Diver" has a catchy riff, but gee, I wonder what inspired this riff. Black Sabbath's "Heaven and Hell"? Oh, who am I kidding? It's practically blatant plagiarism. Case in point, Vivian Campbell couldn't write an original guitar riff to save his life, and has time and time again let me down. He may have the dexterous prowess to masturbate his guitar, but I'm not impressed by it.

So we're left with an album that offers very few evocative moments, in all honesty, I can only say that "Rainbow in the Dark" does it for me. There's this jarring poppy keyboard melody blaring over everything. I hated it at first, but the song has grown on me the most and become my favorite on the album. The album may have started off weak with the pitiful "Stand Up and Shout" but it does at least close off well with the sleek and bone chilling "Shame on the Night". This is one of those tracks where the bass kicks in and directs the song, and in a live setting it could go on for over 15 minutes if the band really wanted to stretch it out to take beer or piss breaks. "Don't Talk to Strangers" is a fun metal ballad, albeit implementing a fairly underdeveloped acoustic intro only serving as a starting point to create a dynamic shift when the distortion switches on and takes the song to hell and back. This is one of the few times we get to hear acoustic guitar on the album and it's nothing but lost potential, there's no acoustic guitar solo, no melody laid on top of it, no layering, hell, there's not even a single embellishment! Remember when I said Vivian Campbell sucks? He lacks any imagination whatsoever.

Holy Diver never strays too far from pop metal. It's unfortunately too linear for my blood. There's plenty of good songs here, but the album becomes a boring listen as it goes on with too few interesting moments spread too far between one another. To be fair, Vivian Campbell isn't the only one responsible for this, the rest of the band are truly at fault here too. He certainly puts more effort into this work than Vinny Appice is. Vinny, are you even there? There's the occasional drum fill here and there but for most of the album he's on autopilot. Don't expect everything here to be as good as the marching fury of the title track, or the moment where the imaginative light bulb goes off for "Rainbow in the Dark". Holy Diver is by far Dio's most overrated work in his entire career. If you're new to Dio, I'd recommend any of his albums with Black Sabbath or Rainbow over most anything his solo band has ever put out, but if you want to dig into his solo discography, this isn't a bad record by any means; give it a spin, enjoy it, and grow tired of it months later when you finally realize just how painfully dull it is.

Superchard gets super hard for:
Gypsy
Don't Talk to Strangers

Heavy metal that has stood the test of time - 90%

kluseba, January 18th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2012, 2CD, Universal Music Group (Digipak, Slipcase, Deluxe edition, Remastered)

Ronnie James Dio's highly volatile early career finally found some stability when the critically acclaimed singer with the skilled theatrical vocals formed his solo band and released the iconic Holy Diver. The record has everything heavy metal stood for in the eighties and is rightfully considered a classic. The talented singer moved away from his early progressive rock soundscapes and doom metal stylistics to release an album focusing on consistent, fast and short anthems and slightly more elaborate mid-paced atmospheric tracks. The first category is best represented by vivid opener ''Stand Up and Shout'' that makes you want to do exactly this. The second type is exemplified by title track ''Holy Diver'' with its atmospheric introduction leading into a memorable anthem.

Everything is focused on Dio's expressive vocals that work very well overall, especially in the often overlooked hard rocking ''Caught in the Middle'' where he finds the right balance between control and emotion. However, Dio also has the tendency to put too much emotion into his vocals when he is loudly singing ''uh!'' and ''yeah!'' on multiple occasions instead of giving his excellent backing band the occasion to shine as in the overtly dramatic ''Straight Through the Heart''. It's obvious where singers like James Hetfield got their inspiration and while Dio's signature sound is quite unique, it gets somewhat repetitive and tiring after a while.

The backing band shouldn't be overlooked. Vinny Appice's drum play is powerful and precise as he always finds the right approach to slow songs down or speed them up with his versatile performance. Guitarist Vivian Campbell comes around with incredibly catchy riffs that aren't a far call from Tony Iommi's skills as in the excellent ''Holy Diver'' but he also lets himself loose in some emotional yet skilled solos as in the brilliant ''Don't Talk to Strangers''. Bass guitar is performed by Jimmy Bain and adds the typical stylistic galloping sound to the record that infuses an extra dose of energy. Along with Dio himself, he is also responsible for the keyboard sounds on this release. This instrument wasn't very common for heavy metal records back then but is perfectly employed in small doses on this release as one can witness in the eerie opening passage of ''Holy Diver'' and the uplifting melody of ''Rainbow in the Dark''. Keyboard sounds have rarely sound as perfectly integrated in heavy metal records as here. The sound by experienced producer George Marino is very organic and manages to make every instrument sound present.

Fillers are nowhere to be found on this record. It must be pointed out that along obvious classics like ''Stand Up and Shout'', ''Holy Diver'' and ''Rainbow in the Dark'', there are many forgotten pearls to be found on this release like the emotional epic ''Don't Talk to Strangers'' and the melodic yet hard rocking ''Caught in the Middle''. The only songs that might not be excellent are the quite short and overtly expressive ''Gypsy'' that ends on a lazy fade-out after just three minutes and the over-performed ''Straight Through the Heart''.

Dio's Holy Diver deserves its status as heavy metal classic and hasn't lost any of its charm thirty-five years later. This record has stood the test of time and still represents everything heavy metal stands for. Let's note that the nine tracks sound even better live which can be heard on the remastered deluxe edition that includes the excellent bonus song ''Evil Eyes'' that should have replaced ''Gypsy'' and numerous live tracks but missed the occasion to feature an entire concert recording. Still, if you don't own this album yet, go grab this deluxe edition and enjoy some solidly crafted heavy metal.

This one goes straight through the heart. - 100%

ballcrushingmetal, June 6th, 2015
Written based on this version: 1983, 12" vinyl, Mercury Records

The band's frontman Ronnie James Dio was not precisely a newcomer in heavy metal music, as he was part of two of the most recognized bands thereof: Rainbow and Black Sabbath. Fanatics of such acts and the metal scene in general never overlooked his work, given the influences and the guiding principles he left for whatever relating to epic songwriting (a.k.a. dungeons and dragons), not to mention how memorable and powerful is his voice.

Despite his unfortunate departure from Black Sabbath, the voice of metal formed his band, and for his benefit, he was able to recruit skilled musicians, including his former bandmates Jimmy Bain and Vinny Appice, as well as the Irish guitarist Vivian Campbell (Sweet Savage). Such a line-up guaranteed an auspicious beginning for Dio, and even better, it helped him move the musical direction in the way he wanted: walking towards the dungeons and dragons thematic. The result of all these elements altogether ended up in what is probably one of the most astonishing heavy metal albums ever brought in the metal scene.

The music displayed therein immediately causes an impact on the listener with the powerful, intense and speedish opener "Stand Up and Shout", which is a kind of cross-over between Sweet Savage's numbers "The Eye of the Storm" and "Queen's Vengeance" (the intro riff seems to take much after that of this number). You may imagine how explosive the number resulted; nonetheless, the band kept on climbing and somehow found out their creative peak in the "Heaven and Hell" reminiscent title track. The constant explosion of power-chords throughout the number, the dark stormy atmosphere, and the powerful Dio vocals make this song the most epic in the band's catalog.

The rest of the album does not move away from that direction. On the one hand, you have numbers which kept the line of heaviness drawn by the title song, such as "Straight Through the Heart", which although moving in a mid-pace, do not lose the punch that characterizes the whole damn thing while guaranteeing a dose of ass-kicking heavy metal. "Don't Talk to Strangers", on the other hand, keeps the epic spirit of the album with its proggy architecture, which moves from a sweet and soft intro to a heavier tune seasoned by the very aggressive soloing and riff set provided by Campbell.

Although the album is filled with Dio's trademark metaphoric songwriting style, where things become interesting is in their most famous number, the melodic nostalgic "Rainbow in the Dark", which through metaphors displays the feelings Dio experienced when he left Black Sabbath (just to come back again to take this role 10 years later). It also represents an opportunity of reaching the masses, as it was able to balance the commercialism and heaviness without losing the latter, something that is not common, since generally, including commercialism in the formula results in a rather poor songwriting work.

Its consistency and effective songwriting work have allowed the album reach high scales of respectability and good sales, ending up in an RIAA platinum certificate on account of its sales. Undisputedly, the album has enough merits to be considered the best album ever released in the metal scene, and few releases can reach the quality of Dio's debut. If you claim yourself a metalhead, this album should be part of your collection. If you haven't bought it, what are you waiting?

Worthy of Classic Status - 95%

MEGANICK89, January 29th, 2013

**Note: This is a review of the 2012 Deluxe Edition**

Ronnie James Dio has a way of making a first impression. He dazzled listeners when he joined up with Richie Blackmore in Rainbow and then rejuvenated Black Sabbath’s career with “Heaven and Hell.” The man had a lot to live up to when going solo and he did not disappoint with “Holy Diver.” The album is widely regarded as a classic and must have for any metal head and for good reason. This album, along with “The Last in Line” and “Sacred Heart” has recently undergone the deluxe treatment from the Universal Music Group and is loaded with some nice extras. Along with the original album, “Holy Diver” includes some live b-sides and also a live concert from the King Biscuit Flower Hour.

The main upgrade from the original release and as well as the 2005 re-release is the improvement in the sound department. Listening to this deluxe version almost felt as if hearing the album for the first time again. The instruments have a strong clarity and Dio’s voice shines like a bright ray of sun. Vivian Campbell’s riffs have an extra burst and the bass provided by Jimmy Bain have the edges rounded on and is clearly established within in the songs. The classic, iconic songs like the title track and “Rainbow in the Dark” sound just as fresh as they did in 1983.

As for the other songs, there is not much more to say then what has already been said. Dio has a way of making the listener feeling empowered with his lyrics. No song embodies that more than the opener, “Stand Up and Shout.” Filled with a rich, up-tempo riff, this song is the essence of making even the most pessimistic fellow to rejoice and raise your fist in the air.

The deeper cuts are also done very well as “Straight Through the Heart” shows Dio at his most demanding with a mean riff that slices to the bone. The final track, “Shame on the Night” has some doom qualities and ends the album on a much darker note.
There is only one tune that does not live up to the billing at that one is “Gypsy.” It is the least inspired and has by far the weakest vocal line and guitar playing. After the one-two punch of “Stand Up and Shout” and “Holy Diver”, “Gypsy” drops the bar down.

The second disc of the deluxe edition is where things become interesting. There is an alternative version of “Evil Eyes”, which would appear on the next album, as well as some live b-sides. However, the extras to sink your teeth into are the concert from the King Biscuit Flower Hour.

This concert is the Dio band in its truest form. They are young, hungry, with Dio trying to establish himself as a solo artist. “Shame on the Night” sounds just as devilish as the studio version and serves as a calming effect after an energetic opener with “Stand Up and Shout.” As the band was still in its fledlging stages, Dio dived into his past ventures with “Children of the Sea” and “Man on the Silver Mountain.” The latter stands out because the band breaks into “Starstruck” in the middle and features impressive drumming by Vinny Appice. “Children of the Sea” is my favorite Dio-fronted Black Sabbath track and Campbell does a stellar job capturing the somber spirit with his guitar work.

Besides the concert are the song “Evil Eyes” and two live b-sides in “Stand Up and Shout and “Straight Through the Heart.” With “Evil Eyes”, there is not much difference in the version that would appear on “The Last in Line.” There is a little more run time with the riffing on this take, but overall there is not much being missed. The live tracks are steady versions with “Straight Through the Heart” retaining its nastiness and “Stand Up and Shout” is similar to what is heard from the concert provided here. This is luckily such a great song that it is not an annoyance hearing this song twice on the same disc.

This is the definitive version of an iconic album and is certainly deserving of having a deluxe edition. The advancement in the sound and the live concert are enough reasons to warrant a purchase. “Holy Diver” is a classic for a reason and this edition is the perfect opportunity to re-experience this great album.

nicksmetal.blogspot.com

An Absolute Classic - 100%

YADF, May 12th, 2012

Fresh from his stint with the legendary Black Sabbath ("Heaven & Hell", "Mob Rules", & "Live Evil"), Dio forms his own band and releases one of the best metal albums of all time. It tops even that acclaimed Sabbath LP "Heaven & Hell".

Drummer Vinny Appice also left Sabbath with Dio and together they formed the band "Dio". Dio recruited former Rainbow bassist Jimmy Bain and after a long search settled on guitarist Vivian Campbell. Despite Campbell's subsequent fame (Whitesnake, Def Leppard), half of the songs on "Holy Diver" were already written when he joined the band. He did receive writing credit on four ("Caught In The Middle", "Gypsy", "Shame On The Night", & most notably "Rainbow In The Dark"). Then again there are only nine songs on this album, which was was common at the time and there is no filler whatsoever. How anybody that appreciates Dio could rate this any less than perfect is bewildering. Yes, "Rainbow In The Dark" is pop metal (hit #14 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart) with keyboards and saturated the airwaves and MTV, but why hold that against the album? It's a great cut. You need at least one radio single on each album and this one fit the bill.

Of course the title tract (#40 Mainstream Rock), the ominous "Straight Through The Heart", and the fast and ferocious "Stand Up And Shout" are the real highlights, but every track is top shelf material.

On a side note, I did find the cover a little offensive. Like Alice Cooper, I am a Christian and I certainly wouldn't support anything truly "demonic". The truth is that this type of music is just fantasy in the Dungeons and Dragons or Final Fantasy mode. Dio was never a Satanist (and didn't exploit such imagery as much as the insipid phony known as Ozzy Osbourne) and in reality most of his songs have a positive message or a happy ending where good conquers evil. Dio himself downplayed the cover's "demonic" elements in the bonus interview on the 2005 remaster as "fantasy" and suggested one "not judge a book by its cover".

Holy and Blessed is the short man - 91%

evermetal, October 9th, 2009

Back at the 70’s, Rainbow was the band that ruled in the rock scene. Then out of a sudden, their singer R.J.Dio was out of the group. It was a shock for the fans. Before they knew it, Dio joined Black Sabbath in the place of Ozzy Osbourne. A fitting combination that gave us to memorable albums, Heaven and Hell and Mob Rules. This huge singer and personality had proved that he did not depend on Blackmore. So, what kept him from proving the same thing to Tony Iommi when he was fired from Sabbath? He recruited three skillful musicians and in no time, Dio’s first release came out at the disk stores, with the brilliant title, Holy Diver.

Having worked with those two monstrous musicians I mentioned earlier, Dio gained much in experience, knowledge and fame. On Holy Diver, Dio combine the sound of Rainbow and Sabbath and the result was an epic, hailed by the metal fans. Holy Diver is a metal monument and Dio’s top achievement. With nine songs that stick to your mind, it is heavy and technical at the same time, thanks to the virtuoso guitarist, Vivian Campbell. His inspired riffs and divine solos give another dimension to the album. I must also mention the important contribution of Bain, the bass player and Appice, the drummer of Dio. Everybody knows how important it is to have a good rhythm section if you want to go far as a band.

The album begins in a thunderous way. The bombastic riff of Stand up and Shout gives us a fair warning of what is about to happen. Then the bass and drums come in to fill the picture and urge us to do as the title says; to stand up and shout with all our strength that heavy metal will never die as long as bands like Dio are here. Rock ‘till you drop! The self-titled song is considered to be Dio’s greatest hit. Don’t mind the bit long introduction. Focus on the majesty of this remarkable composition. Beautiful guitar theme, nice breaks and Dio… my God what a singer!

If there are few tracks in here that are kind of poorer in quality, these are Gypsy and Shame on the night. Gypsy is a mid-tempo but mature song, typical Dio. I listen to it with ease. I can’t say the same for Shame on the Night. It’s rather slow and mediocre. It falls too behind compared to the other diamonds of Holy Diver. Don’t let that ruin your whole opinion of the album.

And now we get to the best song I think Dio have ever written. The one and only Don’t Talk to Strangers. It is a song that will be forever a Dio classic, a hymn for heavy metal. Starting with a serene melodic riff and gentle vocals, it turns into a river of hot, boiling metal that flows in your veins. I get the chills whenever I listen to it. It reaches divinity. There are just a few other songs like this in metal. Perhaps Rainbow in the Dark could be a match but it loses by a breath. Another fantastic song, with awesome keyboards and a tremendous performance by R.J.Dio Unique in its own way. I have to say that the crystal clear production of Holy Diver allows the bass and the drums to stay at the front line.

But there is more. A hinch of perfection can be found in Caught in The Middle. Steady pace and a pure rock atmosphere are the characteristics for this one. It’s a song that speaks Straight Through the Heart. Another great piece of work. The smashing drum intro by Appice gives you the first punch in the stomach before Dio unleash some streaming rock energy. Invisible, kind of sounds to me like the Holy Diver song, though not as excellent. Dio’s angry vocals give life to this one.

The best leverage of Holy Diver is that it’s a well balanced album. There are no fillers but songs that are heard with great pleasure. It’s a colossal release, superb and one that Dio never surpassed. It turns out that what happened between Sabbath and Dio was for our best. Otherwise we wouldn’t have gotten this precious asset in our collections. Don’t you think so?

You damned nitpickers. - 97%

Empyreal, July 28th, 2009

A lot of people have been talking about Holy Diver since its first release in the year 1983. What rock fan doesn't know who Dio is? Even without the help of guys like Jack Black and his insipid musical endeavors, Dio is just a crucial part of rock and metal culture, with his iconic voice, mystical and imaginative lyrics and unstoppable charisma. He doesn't change, he doesn't sell out and he is always at tip top form on any album he is asked to sing on. Holy Diver is perhaps his most iconic point, and here I go, diving right in to review it.

Right from the start, Dio wastes no time, barreling open with the ricocheting "Stand Up and Shout" motivating you to do what metalheads do best, and providing a thoroughly uplifting hook in the process. The sound is a very thin one, crisp and nimble, without any real crunch to the guitars, and there will probably be some days when you yearn for something a bit meatier and more fattening, but the charm is always there, there is no denying that. The melodies are agile and laid back, the riffs are classic slabs of rocking goodness and Dio's voice is as melodious and wondrous as it has ever been. It soars, it dives and it belts out some of the catchiest vocals you'll ever hear.

The title track is perhaps the most known song on here, with its hard rock groove and idiosyncratic lyrics being fronted by Dio's signature wail and creating what is one of metal's all time trademark tunes, right up there with "Master of Puppets," "Painkiller" and "The Number of the Beast." Yet, it's not even near the only great song on here, or even the best one: it's followed up with the AC/DC-invoking "Gypsy," the catchy, infectious hook of "Rainbow in the Dark," the melodious fretting of "Caught in the Middle" and "Straight Through the Heart," the ominous and significantly more metallic "Invisible" and "Shame on the Night" and my favorite in the half-ballad "Don't Talk to Strangers." See? I told you every song had something to offer. Next time you should just take my word for it.

But really, this album is just full of great moments as well as great songs. It lacks any form of pretension and doesn't try to do that much; it's only goal is to provide a set of good songs, which it does. Every song is instantly memorable and automatically replayable. The album is short and allows for multiple plays in a short period of time, if one so desired - which I usually do not; for any album. It's the little things that matter, like the build up in "Don't Talk to Strangers," or the sheer mountainous heaviness of a song like "Shame on the Night," which is especially effective at the very end of the album. How about the opening of "Rainbow in the Dark," with its supremely catchy keyboard melody, and then the bouncy groove that follows? Or the intricacy of the guitar melodies in "Caught in the Middle" behind Dio's vocals? Every song has these subtle and yet simple things to them that make them insanely enjoyable. The hooks here are masterfully crafted, effective from just one listen. Sure, it isn't terribly innovative, but it's just such a damned crafty album - the hooks are devilish; they'll never leave you! Dio certainly knew how to work his target audience.

And the fucking drumming, too. Vinny Appice is no stranger to the metal scene, and here he plays his heart out as if he were a man with ten hearts instead of one. His playing is acrobatic, dynamic and all around superb, backing up the songs on Holy Diver with insane precision and delicacy. Just pick any song here, and the drumming is out of this world. Would I lie to you? I don't think I would. Especially since I just devoted a whole paragraph to the drumming.

Recently, it has been a trend for people to subject this great album a kind of revisionist scrutiny that leaves me quite confused. I see people on this website calling it overrated, calling certain songs 'filler,' and saying there are boring parts...what? Did they just not grow up listening to rock music? Have they some higher standard to which this kind of classic, rocking metal must conform? Really, there's no accounting for taste and all, but I just can't legitimately see eye to eye with the view that this and albums like it are overrated. They just...aren't. Even if you don't personally like this album, calling it overrated is about as silly as calling it underrated - it is what it is, and what it is is one of the classic metal albums. You can nitpick all you want and dissect every song, but it's missing the point, and I have never had a taste for such so-called scholarly reviewing practices, anyway.

Just...the way I always think of this album is just that it isn't doing any harm. That can also be misconstrued as a bad thing in some cases, but here it's just different. Holy Diver is as honest and stripped down as rock music comes. It is teaching moral lessons and telling stories, veiled in a cloak of electric guitars and harmonious solo playing, and it is not attempting to do anything but that. There isn't any anger here, only a creative fire that needed to grow and be nurtured, and Dio knew it. Bashing this album doesn't seem very productive at all; it wasn't doing anything to you, so why would you do it? There is far too much value placed on dissecting every single last tidbit of a song - I just call it trying too fucking hard. I know it doesn't really apply to everyone, but really, there is some truth to the whole idea of people placing too much weight on how heavy or technical something is, and as soon as they can put aside those presumptions, they will be able to enjoy music like Holy Diver a lot more. Yeah, even I don't think this is as good as Heaven & Hell or some of the better Rainbow stuff, but that says absolutely nothing for the quality of this album on its own.

I mean, it's Holy Diver, one of the easiest going and most simplistic Heavy Metal milestones you'll find. Yet we have endless cases of people who listen to this album expecting something other than what it is, which is basically a metal album from the days when the subgenre was just getting off its laurels to progress. It is an album that does not aim to offend a single soul, an album crafted from a simple and basic love of the rock and metal genres, of the sound of a distorted guitar, a wailing voice and a kick ass drum beat to go along with them, and the magic they produce. And that is a damn worthy cause.

A step down from Sabbath - 67%

MercyfulSatyr, July 22nd, 2009

This album gets a whole lot of undeserved praise. From new fans to experienced metalheads, almost everybody seems to worship Holy Diver. The thing is, though, it’s not all that great. Despite a few great songs and the phenomenal Ronnie James Dio, the album tends to plod along in generic ‘80s fashion. Of course, you have to give the band credit for what they do manage to achieve on Dio’s solo debut, as these peaks are some of the greatest traditional-styled metal ever unleashed.

The band’s legendary frontman as well as its rock-solid musical foundation makes for potentially engrossing music. And things go well for a few songs, after which it becomes apparent that Dio’s solo band is no Black Sabbath. Great tracks like the opener and “Don’t Talk to Strangers” are somewhat castrated by the more average songs like “Invisible.” And let’s face it – there’s nothing more annoying than an obviously talented band playing average music. When the music delivers, it delivers HARD, and so there’s no excuse for the lack of continued quality.

Such monsters as the opening “Stand Up and Shout” revel in the great, memorable riffs complemented by excellent backing bass, invigorating lyrics, and a truly powerful Dio. This song, for example, benefits highly from the rough delivery Dio exudes, a sharp contrast to his melodic style shown on his first Sabbath offering. He screams, shouts, and rallies with passion and luster. An excellently toned bass backs up the song, giving it a firm platform for blazing guitars and vocals. The title track, as well, implants a heavy dose of headbang fever. The fantasy-influenced lyrics contained within have become a staple of Dio’s songwriting craft, and the truly classic main riff and powerful vocal melodies make for a well-rounded slab of metal mastery. Let’s also not forget the immortal “look out!” in the middle. Two other songs – “Gypsy” and “Don’t Talk to Strangers” also are top-notch, offering two different ends of the musical spectrum, that being a heavy, speed-addled rocker and a brooding, malevolent and eerie ballad, respectively.

Unfortunately, the rest of the album cannot hope to compare to the glory displayed on the aforementioned four songs. Some tracks, like “Caught in the Middle,” open well with interesting riffs, but later become unimaginative and plodding. Some songs even have little to no musical appeal, like “Shame On the Night,” an immediately boring piece of drivel with its light riff that just doesn’t convey any real power and its sing-over-bass predictability. Mostly, though, the album is just plain average. “Rainbow in the Dark” is all right despite its insipid synthesizer noodling in the beginning, but doesn’t really go anywhere and remains just one song in an album of mid-paced rockers. This medium tempo just adds to the feeling of boredom prevalent in a lot of the album.

Don’t get me wrong – when Dio and company get into it, the output really works. But songs with lacking conviction and power shroud those moments. As such, the album’s typically average quality is its biggest downfall. Dio really can do much better.

Thanks, but no thanks - 50%

doomknocker, July 15th, 2009

If I ever needed a proper entry into the wild world of Mr. Dio, it would be this one, brought on to me by an old high school chum who said "THIS is heavy metal!". This was what followed after my ear drums took a savage beating with NILE's "Black Seeds of Vengeance", and was musically akin to jogging half a block after enduring a four-minute mile; not nearly as powerful as was let on. I understand the classicness of this album, especially the title track, but in complete and utter honesty this doesn't quite live up to its legendary hype.

Of course, most of the attention is lumped into the title track, where the fans feel Dio hit his high note (how depressing to have had done so on the FIRST SONG...), an unloaded magnum opus that at best squirts water. Sure, the guitars have a good melodic hook, the keyboard intro is nice and epic, and Ronnie-boy letting loose the slightly captivating, sober drawls that made him such a hit with BLACK SABBATH, but the song itself just kinda plugs along, with three minutes of material stretched longer than it should. And unfortunately the rest of the album suffers the same fate, only at differing lengths. The over-all delivery is still competent and very traditionally 80s sounding, wherein the guitar lines meld with the vocals and simplistic drums quite nicely, but the music itself lacks the punch it should, and instead sorta beats the hooks and melodies into your head through repetitious chord arrangements, from the mild (“Don’t Talk to Strangers”, “Invisible” and “Shame on the Night”) to the extreme (the title track, “Rainbow in the Dark” and “Gypsy”). I’m sure this was great in the 80s, but nowadays this comes off as slightly bland.

So all in all this isn’t really a worthless album, just overhyped. DIO definitely had big shoes to fill in the albums hence, as it all comes back to this. As for me, I’d like to thank Ronnie for the offer I unfortunately have to refuse, and will stick to some MERCYFUL FATE instead.

Overrated and not the classic it is said to be - 85%

Metalwontdie, July 15th, 2009

Dio’s Holy Diver while being a darn good release is certainly not a metal classic. I do agree that Holy Diver is certainly one of Dio’s best albums containing some of his best songs. Filler is present on some of the songs on this album like the album low point Shame on The Night. Holy Diver has more variety than the average Dio release also and shows some of his best songwriting and choruses.

Holy Diver’s songs range from early speed metal numbers, classic mid-tempo metal anthems, and melodic power metal. Practically ever song is mid-tempo or slower besides Stand Up And Shout, and Don’t Talk To Strangers both being some of the fastest songs Dio wrote in the 80’s. Keyboards are used both by Ronnie and Jimmy providing a great atmospheric intro to the title track and some nice notes throughout Rainbow In The dark. Semi-ballads are represented in the beginning of Don’t Talk To Strangers, and Invisible. Most songs on Holy Diver start with a strong lead than alternate between lead and main riff for most of the song.

The band’s performance is very solid considering they all were experienced musicians at this time. Ronnie James Dio’s vocals on Holy Diver are easily one of his best performances of his career showcasing his excellent range, melodic singing, and his ruff much more metal vocals. Vivian Campbell’s guitar work is probably his best of the three Dio albums he plays on, he’s well suited for crafting great classic metal leads and mid- tempo riffs that are either solid or excellent. Jimmy Bain’s bass guitar on Holy diver is very audible and really adds a nice low end effect to songs like Holy Diver and Straight Through The Heart. Vinny Appice’s drumming is his usual mid-tempo beats with lots of fills and hard hitting pounding.

Unfortunately Holy Diver is not a classic metal album a few major problems really take away from this albums enjoy ability. First off as said above filler is present on a few songs like the majority of Shame On The Night (a bad way to end a solid album), Straight Through The Heart, and Gypsy. Holy Diver seems to be based around four songs Stand Up And Shout, Holy Diver, Don’t Talk To Strangers, and Rainbow In The Dark. The rest of Holy Diver is not nearly as high quality as those four songs.

Holy Diver is certainly a solid album albeit an overrated album. Best songs are Stand Up And Shout, Holy Diver, Don’t Talk To Strangers, and Rainbow In The Dark. I recommend Holy Diver to any fan of Dio and classic metal but don’t expect this release to be an all time metal classic because it is not.

-5 points filler is present weakens quality of album
-5 points Holy Diver is based around to much around the standouts and not around the overall quality of the album
-5 points holy Diver ends on a low point with Shame On The Night easily one of Dio’s worst songs

A bit overrated, after all - 80%

Nhorf, May 25th, 2008

I'm really amazed with the amount of positive reviews and with the average rating of this piece. Don't get me wrong, I really like this record, it probably is the best one Dio ever made (I don't have all his discography, so I can't say yet if it is his best or not) and it features some nice performances (everyone knows that Dio is a great vocalist and he quite possibly reaches his top with Holy Diver). So, why this record doesn't get a 95% or a 98% for me?

Well, the reason is: the little variety. Unfortunately for Dio, that's one of the things I praise the most and this records lacks it and lacks it badly. Surely there are differences between the songs and you can distinguish easily one from another; but all of them follow some what similar structures and there is too much focus on the choruses. Now, the focus on the choruses isn't necessarily a bad thing; one song here and there featuring a powerful chorus is always a pleasant thing to hear. But a completely different thing is creating a record made entirely of straight-forward songs and there are few bands out there that manage to keep the integrity and the quality within those albums. As you can see, catchiness is a thing that you must use but not abuse, as it can, at the same time, bring your album up to the skies or bring it down, powerfully, to the ground.

But when this album is good, it is really, really AMAZING. Stand Up and Shout is a fantastic opener, being an early speed metal number, probably the faster song Dio ever released. The chorus is also fantastic (“stand up and SHOUT... LET IT OUUT!!”) and catchy, the intense drumming driving very well the song too. The title track is another highlight, a metal classic with a great main riff, courtesy of Vivian Campbell. After Dio, Vivian delivers the best performance here, his riffs and solos complementing perfectly the lines played by the other musicians. There is also an interesting use of keyboards (by Jimmy Bain and Ronnie Dio) and it works especially well with Rainbow in the Dark, which benefits from that unforgettable keyboard riff. Don't Talk to Strangers probably is my personal favourite here, mainly because it manages to be somewhat different from the other tunes: it begins very calmly, with those fantastic lyrics and then explodes into a mid-paced, heavier part, it is simply great. Invisible is also cool, mainly because of the guitar work.

So, after all, you might enjoy this record if you like straight forward metal with some nice, over-the-top vocals and guitars. The drums are not very creative, but still decent and precise, with Vinnie Appice being the sticksman. Anyway, there are some really good tracks here, like the ones I mentioned above, but all the other ones are very average and too focused on the vocals and choruses. Remember one thing: you need more than a good vocal performance to make a masterpiece.

Despite all of my critics, Holy Diver is a very enjoyable album, but, as you can see, not the masterpiece that many claim it is. I wrote this review with that exact purpose, to show you that a masterpiece this isn't. If you also need an introduction to Dio try this, as it manages to be a lot more solid than its sucessor, The Last in Line.

Best Moments of the CD:
-the ending of Stand Up and Shout.
-the real beginning of the title track (after that, a bit overlong, intro).
-the build-up of Don't Talk to Strangers.
-the keyboard parts of Rainbow in the Dark.

“Don't dream of women 'cause they only bring you... DOOOOWN!”

A true heavy metal classic - 91%

CannibalCorpse, February 27th, 2008

Classic 80s heavy metal albums tend to be overrated beyond belief. I could list a ton of examples here (including many that’d put me on many metalhead’s death-lists) but I’ll refrain from that, you get the picture.
Overrated is a word that doesn’t quite fit to an album titled “Holy Diver”. It really does fill the shoes it’s usually placed in and therefore “Holy Diver” is a landmark in heavy metal history. Dio has just left Black Sabbath after the release of “Mob Rules” and gathered soon-to-be guitar legend Vivian Campbell, Rainbow-bassist Jimmy Bain and now also ex-Sabbath drummer Vinnie Appice around him to record a truly legendary album.

Both Jimmy Bain and Vinnie Appice deliver good performances on bass and drums, especially the latter does make “Holy Diver” quite a bit more technically demanding, compared to Sabbath’s output around that time. Vivian Campbell is an excellent guitarist and while he’d hit his peak on the next album, he already shows a lot of flashing talent on here.

The album kicks off with the fast rocker anthem “Stand up and Shout”. It’s almost speed-metal in execution and Dio’s aggressive delivery makes this one a winner. Not my favorite song on the album by a long shot, but it definitely has the right power to be the opening track.

Now of course I have to devote an entire paragraph to the hymn that is the title track. Many fans see this track as the highlight of Dio’s entire career and I can clearly understand why. The slow synth-intro is probably skip-worthy after the thousandth listen, but the great main riff that opens the track is what truly makes this one a stand out. It’s heavy and has balls the size of Jupiter. Of course, when Dio’s voice kicks in, the aforementioned balls don’t even fit into this galaxy anymore. Definitely one of the strongest songs he has ever done vocal-wise and the lyrics are in the same league. Dio has always been a great writer, but the lyrics on this album are almost out of this world. One thing that I have to point out though is the guitar solo, which could have been greater than it is. Don’t me wrong, it’s a good solo, but it doesn’t quite match the level of all other elements in this track.

Fortunately, the album doesn’t end here (some people seem to remember the title track, but nothing else). “Gypsy” is one of the lesser songs on the album, but it’s worthy nonetheless. It focuses more on a rather strange vocal performance (“I’m riiiiiding on the gypsy, the gypsy queeeeen”) by Dio instead of riffs and we all know that this is never a good sign in this genre (even in Dio’s case). Still, it’s quite catchy and I wouldn’t call this filler by a long shot.

After this, the album reaches its peak by having 3 total winners in a row. “Caught in the Middle”, “Don’t Talk to Strangers” and “Straight Through the Heart” are all awesome rockers (“Don’t Talk to Strangers” has an awesome ballad-esque part as well) with lots of riffs, great vocal lines and awesome solos all over the place. Especially the first two of the mentioned tracks are at least equal to the title track, contrary to popular opinion. To me, these three tracks are the core and the overall highlight of the album.

After that, the album does not reach that level of excellence again as “Invisible” and “Rainbow in the Dark” are a tad unspectacular (apart from Dio’s vocals, which do fire up the songs quite a bit) and the closer “Shame on the Night” does plods a little in the verses.

Overall though, “Holy Diver” is a classic heavy metal record and despite my few minor gripes, this is an essential listen for all fans of metal, hard rock or music in general. Heavy metal doesn’t get much better than this, and said album is definitely one of the best in Dio’s lengthy career.

Highlights: Holy Diver, Caught in the Middle, Don’t Talk to Strangers

What Can I Say...? It's A Masterpiece - 100%

NecroWraith, February 10th, 2007

Holy Diver… Dio’s legendary debut album. This album is the definition of heavy metal. This album is flawless. This album is perfect. This album is amazing. This album is incredible. This album is epic. This album is classic. This album is astounding. I could go on for hours praising the greatness of ‘Holy Diver.’ Dio is a genius, and this is the album that forever earned him a place in heavy metal history.

The album starts out with the anthemic ‘Stand Up And Shout.’ The second I heard this song, I knew this album was gonna be great. “You've got desire!!! So let it out!!! You've got the power!!! Stand up and shout!!! Shout! Shout! Stand up and shout!!!”

Dio seemed to put together all the good things he had when working on albums with legends like Rainbow and Black Sabbath, as well as the live contributions to Deep Purple, and more. This album has it all. Killer riffs, godly vocals, smart and intelligent lyrics, great and catchy melodies and choruses, perfect keyboards… not one thing on here lacks.

This album has no fillers whatsoever. Every song is a classic. All the way from the anthem for metalheads everywhere, ‘Stand Up And Shout’ to the darker ‘Shame On The Night’, ‘Holy Diver’ is a success. Best songs on here would definitely be ‘Stand Up And Shout,’ ‘Holy Diver,’ and ‘Rainbow In The Dark.’ ‘Rainbow In The Dark,’ for example, uses keyboards similar to how Rainbow used them in classics such as ‘Stargazer.’ The song is INCREDIBLY catchy… Dio’s voice is perfect, and fits in with the music flawlessly.

The production on this album is also amazing. No instrument is too loud, no instrument too quiet. Dio’s voice is slightly louder than anything else, and the drums backing up his voice add even more power to his booming, commanding voice. Dio is one of metal’s greatest singers, right up there with Dickinson and Halford, and this album proves this point unquestionably.

I barely ever rate an album a perfect 100, but Dio leaves me no choice. No matter how hard I try, I cannot find anything wrong with ‘Holy Diver.’ This is a classic that will be remembered forever, and a major milestone in heavy metal music. Anyone who doesn’t own it cannot possibly consider themselves a metalhead.

-Marcin C.

Masterpiece - 95%

Taylarioso, December 8th, 2006

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.

Definition: HEAVY METAL - 98%

cronosmantas, March 12th, 2006

Dio's first solo album Holy Diver just plain and simple defines the words HEAVY METAL. Today there are so my sub-genres with the likes of Death, Black, Power, Progressive, Grove, Trash, Gothic, etc that many forget the plain and simple great "heavy metal" discs like Holy Diver. This disc is plain and simple HEAVY METAL with no frills. This is just fantastic guitar playing, killer riffs, God like vocals, and smart lyrics.

The reason I decided to sit down and write a review on this disc is for a horrific event that happened to me. I ended up with two mint copies of this CD and offered to give one for free to a friend of mine, a friend that is also a "true" heavy metal fan. My friend turned it down saying "I respect Dio more than I like him". I was flabbergasted! First of all who would turn down a free Dio disc and second how could anyone not like the album Holy Diver?

I don't care what anyone says, if you like heavy metal, you are going to like this disc. Like I mentioned before, this album has fantastic guitar playing, smart lyrics, god like singing, and killer riffs. What metal fan doesn't like these things?

Well, I for one love these things and Holy Diver was one of the pinnacle albums to make me become such a die hard metal head. Dio here proves his one of the kings when it comes to the genre.

The album opens with the fantastic rocker Stand Up and Shout. Right of the bat by this song you know that Dio is going for a harder approach than his Black Sabbath outings. Dio has always been good at starting his first solo albums (as well as the Sabbath discs he sung on) with great fast paced rockers. I sadly have never witnessed Dio live but I can imagine that this is a great live song. Then comes the grand title track with its moody, foreboding intro and then an explosive riff. The title track is one of the greatest heavy metal songs of all time...hands down. Other album highlights include Don't Talk to Strangers (which starts off with Dio's mellow singing and then explodes with another thunderous riff), Straight through the Heart, and perhaps Dio's best known song Rainbow in the Dark. Caught in the Middle, Gypsy, Invisible, and Shame on the Night are all weaker compared to the other tracks but they are far from terrible. Just great metal rockers.

If I were going on a life long space mission and I could only take 5 CDs with me to listen to for the rest of my life, Holy Diver would be one of the discs. This is just a pinnacle album that is a staple in every collection.

Oh, and by the way. If one of your friends offers you this CD for free (but then again, you should already have this in your collection), TAKE IT! If you don't like this CD...then I'm afraid to say that your a poser. STAND UP AND SHOUT!!!

The ties that bind and the great sea beyond. - 93%

hells_unicorn, February 22nd, 2006
Written based on this version: 1987, CD, Mercury Records

Nostalgia is an interesting beast, one that can make majestic mountains out of impressive (or occasionally unimpressive) hills, and can reveal certain detailing within the resulting horizon that has since become the subject of hindsight. The author of this review has himself shifted around a bit regarding the historical significance of several of his old favorite albums, not the least of which being the one that kicked off Ronnie James Dio's solo career, which has adorned his collection for more than 20 years. When asked about the very idea of being a solo artist, Ronnie was himself dismissive of it, asserting rather emphatically that he had always been a team player and one to give credit where credit is due concerning the musicians with whom he associated. While any prominent artist would be remiss to suggest that they alone should claim authorship over something that is a collaborative effort simply because the project bears his name, the modesty that Dio would display in this regard went a tad overboard and fails to really match the resulting output of Dio as a band.

Holy Diver is a continuation in many respects, one that builds off of the astounding musical accomplishments by RJD while working with Rainbow and Black Sabbath. This stands in direct contrast to where Sabbath itself went at the same time with Born Again, an album that could be likened to a musical compromise between the Ozzy years of Sabbath, emulating said icon's subsequent solo work, and Ian Gillian's involvement also providing an incidental element of Deep Purple's sound, which did bring out some of the more epic qualities of the two preceding, Dio fronted albums. In fact, Dio's 1983 debut leans a bit heavier in the direction of the fast, nimbler, and heavier character of British albums of the early 80s that paved the way for thrash metal, as can be observed by the riff happy and aggressive character of Vivian Campbell's guitar work, which is the most distinctive feature of this album save Ronnie's soaring yet gritty vocal display. Indeed, the massive similarities in Campbell's soloing approach and the character of the songs themselves suggest that the front man for which this band was named was likely micromanaging the efforts of each instrumentalist supporting him in order to retain the strong points of Dio's tenure with Sabbath, though Vivian's playing also shares some distinct commonalities with fellow Irish ax man Gary Moore.

The musical affinity noted previously is arguably at its most blatant here than was the case on all subsequent Dio efforts, but also provides a blueprint from which the more distinct aspects of this band's sound would later emerge. The fast paced, almost speed metal oriented nod to rebellion and individuality "Stand Up And Shout" is a bit grittier and faster than "Neon Knights" or "Turn Up The Night", but it carries the flashy lead gymnastics of the latter as well as the stop and start transitional character of the former. Likewise, the dreary ballad turned fast paced rocker "Don't Talk To Strangers" could be subtitled "Children Of The Sea" part two, though it cooks a bit more and has a more real world oriented lyrical message despite the heavy use of metaphors. It isn't much of a stretch to draw similar comparisons between the mid-paced anthem to human relations "Caught In The Middle" with the similarly rocking, catchy and often panned love song gone wrong "Walk Away" off the Heaven And Hell album, not to mention one that would serve as the archetype for Dio's more radio-friendly single material while still carrying more of a hard-edged demeanor. Perhaps the lone Sabbath-styled offering here that doesn't really resemble Dio's handiwork with said band is the closer "Shame On The Night", which has a bit more of a bluesy-rocking meets doom metal demeanor that is more in line with 70s Sabbath, and on a side note, is credited with inspiring a number of more epic doom outfits like Solitude Aeturnus.

Not to be tied down solely to the Sabbath years, Ronnie and company find themselves often emulating the exploits of his time in Rainbow, particularly on the more hard-rocking material found here. Crushing mid-paced anthems like "Gypsy", "Straight Through The Heart" and "Invisible" incorporate various aspects of Blackmore's riffing style as heard on the likes of "Man On The Silver Mountain" and "Long Live Rock And Roll" (two songs that would enjoy regular live play by Dio while touring during the 80s and 90s), though Vivian's more biting guitar tone gives it much more of a metal edge, and his noodling solos retain about as much of an Iommi character as they do on the rest of the songs on here. The latter of these three songs also presents a pretty blatant archetype of the more epic-tinged songwriting where a non-recurring atmospheric intro would be followed by a driving rocker, though "Invisible" proves to be more of a chunky, heavy-ended groove machine than a lofty nod to "Gates Of Babylon" or "Temple Of The King". Even though Vivian's playing proves quite versatile, he along with Ronnie's skyward vocalizations and Vinnie Appice's loose, fill-happy drumming style (very reminiscent of Bill Ward) even lean these songs in more of a Sabbath direction, whereas Jimmy Bain's bass work proves the biggest point of contrast, opting for something a bit more structured than Geezer Butler's traveling, almost improvised sounding bass work for something a tad raunchier but also a tad more disciplined.

As with any highly ambitious project, while the really interesting stuff tends to happen during the less radio-friendly moments, the most curious songs found on here are the ones that became both MTV and arena staples. The title song "Holy Diver" could be likened to an abridged reinterpretation of "Heaven And Hell", possessing the same sort of slow-paced galloping feel, but reversing the acoustic outro into a haunting keyboard intro and cutting out the jump in tempo. In essence, this is the same basic song, but featuring most of the emphasis on Dio's vocals and opting for a more standard structure. But ultimately the real point of curiosity here proves to be "Rainbow In The Dark", which is essentially the token Dio song that everybody knows and also arguably his only real foray into an 80s pop/rock song. RJD himself had stated that his exodus from Rainbow was largely due to Blackmore's desire to go in a more mainstream rock direction, and that this particular song came off as a little too close to that type of feel. Granted, due to Vivian's biting guitar sound and Bain's raunchy bass work, the song comes off as far heavier than anything that ended up on Difficult To Cure or Straight Between The Eyes, but if those things are taken out of the equation, it runs along fairly similar lines.

This album's status as a great album, nay, an iconic one, is not really a matter for debate. However, as with many first attempts, it does find itself being ever so slightly rough around the edges and a tinge out of focus. There isn't a single song on here that is found wanting, but as an entire album, it listens a bit more like a reworked compilation of RJD's past. Part of it is the fairly green status of Vivian Campbell, who attempts to throw everything but the kitchen sink at his prospective audience, and while making a good show of things, doesn't come off as disciplined and polished as the rest of the band. To a degree, it is understandable that this would be the go-to album for most metal fans as it is rawer and more aggressive than the rest of Dio's 80s output. Be this as it may, this band's greatest moments were always when staring off into distant magical horizons, and the sound that would be developed on The Last In Line and Dream Evil is where Dio truly came into its own as one of the best, if not the best heavy metal institutions of the 80s. Think of this as the opening chapter of an expansive fantasy novel, it breaks the ice and ropes the reader in, but ultimately doesn't represent the climactic point of the story.

(Rewritten on September 23rd, 2017)

Defining heavy metal. - 99%

Corimngul, March 25th, 2005

When the word spread about Dio planning a solo project, anxiety aroused. The fans expected it to be just another solo record, filled with songs that did never fit the artist's original band. And so they got Holy Diver. Somehow the album was a meltdown of Ronnie's musical experiences in Black Sabbath, Rainbow, Elf, Elves and whatever his early band was called, spiced with some evolution. Instead of yet another let-down this year just after Judas Priest's and Black Sabbath's golden days, just before Iron Maiden's ditto, we got an album crashing down into our inner, most secrets circles of metal followers, smashing, destroying and wiping away whatever standards there had been before. Holy Diver was like the Flood, in its musically purest and most concentrated form. It literally slayed every album preceding it and wins over more or less every metal albums released afterwards. No band, not Dio, not Maiden, not Priest, has produced an equally great - or better heavy metal album - so far. They probably won't either.

Holy Diver was recorded back in the day when one still had to take special measures because of the constraints of the LP format. One always puts the best songs on side A. While both sides are pretty damn flawless, A sure is the best side. That's where the title song is. As you all know, or should all know, it starts with a mystic, atmospheric intro like a weak wind blowing in a mist, then comes keyboards bringing a dramatic touch, sound effects somewhat like whales' communication - and then what's most probably the best song ever kicks in.

Like most of the Holy Diver songs, Holy Diver itself is a classic. Even after all these albums, all these years it's the only song played at every gig. Let me try telling you why. This is the recording on which Dio does his best effort ever, sounds better than ever before and ever after. There's some serious passion, the man gives it all. But most important is the fact that this is most probably the point where his vocal cords were at their best.

And then the guitars. While Craig Goldy never was a bad guitarist, he never was as good as Vivian Campbell. Especially when Vivian Campbell does his very best as he did on Holy Diver. Then Mr. G has a lesser chance than that of a snowball in hell, seeing he might play the stuff but song writing and throwing together riffs never were his strong cards. Oh yeah, riffs. Holy Diver is almost like a thrash record, coming to that respect. There are loads and loads with great, competent and varied riffs in here. Wobbling, hardrockish, fast, and circular - the man does it all.

The guitars are what many metalheads of today would call melodic, just because they aren't as overly downtuned as death metal guitars. But I assure you; no crunch doesn’t exactly equal no good. Because this is good. Campbell never resorts to the easy ways, no power chords in here. At simplest he's tapping the melody or plays a slower riff. And then there are solos too. It's cool how they combine keyboard chords with the high guitar tones at times. Oh yes, the organic guitar sound of the eighties leaves nowadays' production models standing in the corner.

Jimmy Bain does the bass, and who'll complain? He's clearly audible, all time, and do most of the rhythmic work, especially in the two stompier tracks Gypsy and Invisible.

Vinny Appice, the drummer, is the last man aboard. Steady, no echoes, no double bass, instead something I love: A varied sound, having a big set, using different drums in nice rhythmical patterns, never louder than the guitars. The cooperation of drums and guitars is amazing. At times the guitars seem like flowing, levitating and dancing upon the power of the drums. This is especially true on the last of the three real classics' Holy Diver, Don't Talk to Strangers and Rainbow in the Dark.

Keyboards are played by Ronnie himself, just accompanying the general sound, providing intros and effects at a few places, not like quite a few bands nowadays having more or less stationary synths (cough Iron Maiden cough Rhapsody cough) or more or less rely on them (cough Children of Bodom cough Bal-Sagoth cough).

Anyone with heavy metal in his veins shouldn't have to read this (or other) reviews. He should already have the record in a prominent place, preferably an extra stereo so that he never removes it from the record player. Holy Diver is one of the few real essential albums.

Yup Yup... this one's good - 100%

Crimsonblood, November 30th, 2002

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.