Dio: Holy Diver (Super Deluxe Edition) Album Review
Before the release of holy diver, Ronnie James Dio was just the greatest mercenary in rock ‘n’ roll history. In 1974, Roger Glover of Deep Purple recruited the little American, born Ronald Padavona, to sing on his bongwater-soaked rock opera, The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper Feast. Dio’s performance so impressed ex-Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore that he hired him to front his new neoclassical hard-rock band Rainbow. Dio made three albums with Blackmore, but left Rainbow in 1979 to join Black Sabbath, taking on the daunting task of replacing new solo Ozzy Osbourne for the band. heaven and hell. Dio’s second album with Sabbath, 1981 mob rules, was another masterpiece, but Dio was tired of standing in the shadow of his more visible bandmates. (His debut with Rainbow was literally called Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow.) When Sabbath showed him the door, it was a blessing in disguise. The midnight sea was calling.
There was no doubt the 40-year-old singer would call his new band. Dio officially launched in the fall of 1982, with the eponymous rocker on mic and fellow expat Sabbath Vinny Appice behind the drums. After a brief banter with future Ozzy guitarist Jake E. Lee, the band’s lineup solidified: Dio, Appice, former Rainbow bassist Jimmy Bain and guitarist Vivian Campbell, of Belfast band Sweet Savage. Their first album, holy diver, was released the following spring. Support players were crucial, but they were just that: support players. Finally, there was a recorded document of Ronnie James Dio as the actual conductor. On a new super-deluxe four-disc reissue, his leap into auteurism sounds more visionary than ever.
holy diver opens with “Stand Up and Shout”, or, more precisely, it opens with the main riff of “Stand Up and Shout”, one of the most iconic and ubiquitous note sequences in history metal. This simple blues-based power chord progression is an object of totemic power, passed from metal guitarist to metal guitarist like a talisman. It just screams heavy metal. Variations on the riff appeared on Riot’s “Swords and Tequila” in 1981, “Flash Rockin’ Man” by Accept in 1982, “Curse of the Pharaohs” by Mercyful Fate in 1983, and “2 Minutes to Midnight” by Iron Maiden in 1984. The urgent double-time version that Vivian Campbell plays on “Stand Up and Shout” lands right in the middle of this timeline, and while its similarity to those other riffs is almost certainly coincidental, it’s fitting that she announces the arrival of Dio. First on holy diverthen on the nine additional Dio albums he would make before he died of stomach cancer in 2010, the singer would bend the sound and aesthetic of classic heavy metal to his liking.