1983, Music

Holy Diver (1983) by Dio

I have only heard one Dio-era Sabbath album, and I can’t say I loved it. But it was a few years ago and I can’t really tell you specifically what it was that rubbed me the wrong way; maybe it just seemed out of step with the time.

Well this record doesn’t sound as out of step with the time as I imagined it would, for a few reasons: For one thing, there’s a least a bit of a NWOBHM influence on some of these tracks (particularly the faster ones), and that’s not something that’s present on RAINBOW (obviously) or, from memory, the Sabbath album I’ve heard. But the other thing is the synthesizers; though I don’t generally love synthesizer keyboards in metal, I will say that they make it sound a little more ’80s than it would have without them.

The band is decent, if a little traditional for the era. But the real reason anyone would listen to this is Dio himself, right? And he’s commanding performer; for good or ill one of the reasons the “power metal” vocal thing happened. Aside from Ian Gillan, there aren’t too many metal singers pre-Halford who belted like this. Dio is somewhere in the middle between the early, bluesy vocalists, and power vocalists.

One additional unique thing about Dio here are his lyrics, which are, on some songs, some of the most positive lyrics I’ve ever heard in metal. I’m not sure they’re great lyrics, but at least some of them are different.

But on the whole, this doesn’t do much for me. It’s a little too traditional for the era and I’ve still never really come around to being a fan of Dio as a performer (though he’s clearly a good one).

I could take this or leave it.


All lyrics written by Ronnie James Dio, music as stated.

  1. “Stand Up and Shout” Jimmy Bain, Dio 3:18
  2. “Holy Diver” Dio 5:51
  3. “Gypsy” Vivian Campbell, Dio 3:39
  4. “Caught in the Middle” Vinny Appice, Campbell, Dio 4:14
  5. “Don’t Talk to Strangers” Dio 4:53
  6. “Straight Through the Heart” Bain, Dio 4:31
  7. “Invisible” Appice, Campbell, Dio 5:24
  8. “Rainbow in the Dark” Appice, Bain, Campbell, Dio 4:15
  9. “Shame on the Night” Appice, Bain, Campbell, Dio 5:19
  • Ronnie James Dio – lead vocals, synthesizers
  • Vivian Campbell – guitar
  • Jimmy Bain – bass, keyboards
  • Vinny Appice – drums

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