|Review: Dio - Holy Diver|
Label: Warner Bros. Records
Year released: 1983
Genre: Heavy Metal
Review online: September 19, 2020
Reviewed by: Mjölnir
Rated 4.58/5 (91.67%) (12 Votes)
Sometimes, I find myself browsing the reviews on the Crypt and realizing we don't have an essential release covered for some reason. As I try to write this, I am once again reminded that the reason for that is likely answered by the question "what the hell am I supposed to say?" Holy Diver a colossal landmark release that anyone with an interest in the genre has heard at least once, it's one of the few Metal albums to hit Platinum, and it's helmed by one of our most beloved icons, Ronnie James Dio, and pretty much everybody knows all that. You'd think my approach to covering this would be to say that this hasn't aged gracefully and doesn't have the same impact it may have once had, and if you asked me a few years ago when I last listened to it, you'd be right. However, now that I've properly revisited it, even a jaded young punk like myself can do nothing besides explain for the millionth time why this is a great album.
If you've never heard anything to come from Dio, then you're either really new to the genre or you've somehow dodged the various radio stations, T.V. shows, and movies that contain his music. For those five people in the world, Dio worked in a commercial form of Heavy Metal that he basically helped to pioneer with his days in Rainbow and Black Sabbath, only here he leaned more on the Hard Rock influences of the time to while giving it an epic spark to create a sound that is today a cornerstone for an entire school of thought in Traditional Metal. You get your classic tunes like "Stand Up and Shout", "Rainbow in the Dark", and the immortal title track, all of which stand up pretty well to the test of time, but there's also a few duds like the poppy "Caught in the Middle" and the middling "Gyspsy", songs that show their age more than anything else on here. That said, there are some real gems on this album that don't get quite the same amount of respect, like the stomping "Straight Through the Heart", the moody album closer "Shame on the Night", and the atypically dark and intense album highlight "Don't Talk to Strangers", which may well be the best song Dio ever wrote. These are all given life through some first-rate performances, form the hooky guitarwork of Vivian Campbell to the rough, all powerful voice of Dio himself, whose unmatched prowess and excellent ear for vocal melodies more than makes up for his sometimes-tiresome tendency to improvise vocal lines as a song fades out.
To be honest, the only reason I'm reviewing this is because it wasn't covered here yet, because otherwise I'm just adding to the infinite praises this album has rightfully garnered over time. The best I can add is that despite having a little too much commercial gloss in spots, this album has withstood the test of time and remains an essential part of any metal fan's collection.
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