ON THIS DATE (29 YEARS AGO)
May 25, 1983 – Dio: Holy Diver is released.
# ALL THINGS MUSIC PLUS+ 4.5/5
# Allmusic 4.5/5 stars
Holy Diver is the debut album from American heavy metal band Dio, released on this date in May 1983. The album has been hailed by critics as Dio’s best work and a classic staple in the heavy metal genre. The album was eventually certified Gold in the US on September 12, 1984 and Platinum on March 21, 1989. In the UK, it attained Silver certification (60,000 units sold) by the British Phonographic Industry, achieving this in January 1986, at the same time as The Last in Line.
Despite recording two hit studio albums with Black Sabbath (1980’s Heaven and Hell and 1981’s The Mob Rules) and playing throughout the world to huge crowds, Ronnie James Dio left the band in 1982-the year of his final release with Sabbath, the in-concert Live Evil. As soon as the announcement of his departure was made official, Dio began to put together his first solo project. Joining him were former Rainbow bandmate Jimmy Bain on bass, former Sabbath bandmate Vinny Appice on drums, ex-Sweet Savage guitar hero Vivian Campbell, and newcomer Claude Schnell on keyboards.
The album quickly became a favorite worldwide and eventually earned the group platinum certification. The somewhat upbeat sounding “Rainbow in the Dark” was an MTV favorite, while the plodding title track proved to be another standout. Other album highlights include the opening anthem “Stand Up and Shout,” “Invisible,” and “Don’t Talk to Strangers.” Holy Diver proved that Dio’s departure from Black Sabbath had not affected his spirits. In fact, he sounds most inspired here, aided by his new, hungry backing band.
by Eduardo Rivadavia, allmusic
After playing a major role in five positively classic heavy metal albums of the late ’70s and early ’80s (three with Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow and two with Black Sabbath), it seemed that singer Ronnie James Dio could truly do no wrong. So it wasn’t all that surprising — impressive, but not surprising — when he struck gold yet again when launching his solo vehicle, Dio, via 1983’s terrific Holy Diver album. Much like those two, hallowed Sabbath LPs, Heaven and Hell and Mob Rules, Holy Diver opened at full metallic throttle with the frenetic “Stand Up and Shout,” before settling into a dark, deliberate, and hypnotic groove for the timelessly epic title track — a worthy successor to glorious triumphs past like Rainbow’s “Stargazer” and the Sabs’ “Sign of the Southern Cross.” But subsequent metal anthems like “Straight Through the Heart,” “Invisible,” and the lycanthrope lullaby “Shame on the Night” were no less inspired; and by injecting uncommonly catchy melodies into the heavy rock riffery still dominating more accessible numbers such as “Gypsy,” “Caught in the Middle,” and hit single “Rainbow in the Dark” (where the singer himself played rather spotty keyboards), Dio proved himself perfectly capable of competing with the increasingly commercial hard rock fashions soon to come. Although most fans would agree that Dio would arguably never again replicate the simply sublime symbiosis of beauty and brawn achieved by the all-time standout “Don’t Talk to Strangers.” And, to be fair, aside from Ronnie’s unquestionably stellar songwriting, Holy Diver’s stunning quality and consistency owed much to his carefully chosen bandmates, including powerhouse drummer (and fellow Sabbath survivor) Vinny Appice, veteran bassist Jimmy Bain, and a phenomenal find in young Irish guitarist Vivian Campbell, whose tastefully pyrotechnic leads helped make this the definitive Dio lineup. So, too, is Holy Diver still the undisputed highlight of Dio’s career, and, indeed, one of the finest pure heavy metal albums of the 1980s.
All lyrics written by Ronnie James Dio.
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
1 Straight Through the Heart (Bain, Dio) – 4:31
2 Invisible (Appice, Campbell, Dio) – 5:24
3 Rainbow in the Dark (Appice, Bain, Campbell, Dio) – 4:15
4 Shame on the Night (Appice, Bain, Campbell, Dio) – 5:19
Deluxe Edition Disc 2
1. “Evil Eyes” (studio recording, originally appeared on the B-Side of the “Holy Diver” single)
2. “Stand Up & Shout” (live, originally appeared on the B-Side of the “Rainbow in the Dark” single)
3. “Straight Through the Heart” (live, originally appeared on the B-Side of the “Rainbow in the Dark” single)
4. “Stand Up & Shout” (live, King Biscuit Flower Hour, Oct 30, 1983)
5. “Shame on the Night” (live, King Biscuit Flower Hour, Oct 30, 1983)
6. “Children of the Sea” (live, King Biscuit Flower Hour, Oct 30, 1983)
7. “Holy Diver” (live, King Biscuit Flower Hour, Oct 30, 1983)
8. “Rainbow in the Dark” (live, King Biscuit Flower Hour, Oct 30, 1983)
9. “Man on the Silver Mountain” (live, King Biscuit Flower Hour, Oct 30, 1983)