Today is an American holiday called Memorial Day
, which traditionally is used for remembering the veterans who lost their lives in wars. Longtime veteran of heavy metal music, Ronnie James Dio
, passed away about two weeks ago. So I decided to remember him today, by remembering one of his best albums, Holy Diver
In 1979, Dio
joined Black Sabbath
to replace Ozzy on vocals. He recorded 2 stuDio albums (Heaven And Hell
and The Mob Rules
) with the legendary band, plus a live album. Dio
and drummer Vinny Appice left Black Sabbath
in 1982, after musical disagreements that stemmed from how Live Evil
was handled. They went on to form the band, Dio
. They had recruited guitarist, Vivian Campbell, from Northern Ireland. They also added ex - Rainbow
bassist, Jimmy Bain.
I first heard this album in June
of 1983, at a heavy metal beer party, at my friend's house. He brought out a cassette tape and told us that this is Dio
's solo album. I didn't expect much from it, because I wasn't overly impressed with Heaven And Hell
, or The Mob Rules
. I always preferred Black Sabbath
with Ozzy. So I just assumed that this was just going to sound like another one of those meDiocre albums with Dio
. When we listened to it, we were very surprised at how good the songs were and at how killer it sounded. CD's were unheard of at that time in 1983, so I soon bought a cassette copy of the album. I wore that tape out within a year of heavy listening.
The fresh energy of new guitarist, Adrian
Campbell, proved to be a great compliment to Dio
's vocal style. The opening track, Stand Up And
Shout, really stood out with an almost unprecedented speed of shredding for a Dio
fronted band. Campbell's fine guitar innovations were also demonstrated on tracks like Straight Through
and Invisible. He also displayed a stunning guitar hook on Don't Talk To Strangers. The new bassist, Jimmy Bain, was especially noticeable on tracks like Holy Diver
and Rainbow in the Dark
. Which also had some keyboard music in it. Some of the songs have an element of melancholy in them, like Caught In The Middle and Shame On The Night
. This music wouldn't sound the same, without the strength of Dio
's vocals or his songwriting skills.
This album hit the #56 spot on the Billboard charts and #13 on the UK album charts in 1983. The single, Rainbow in the Dark
, hit #14, and The single Holy Diver
hit the #40 spot on the US Mainstream Rock Tracks, which is a subdivision of the Billboard Charts. This album was certified platinum in 1989.
27 years ago, I would have rated this album a 20. But after relistening to it several times, I think that it sounds more like an 18. Let's face it, this album isn't as continually explosive as Kill
'Em All or Reign
. Nevertheless, this album remains as one of my all time favorites. As long as metal music is available and there are metal fans in this world, Ronnie James Dio
won't be forgotten. So rest in peace, our beloved artist.