Album cover: The first thing that strikes you about this album sleeve is the richness of the color. The surrealistic image has a haunting and foreboding element to it. But more interestingly it’s an album cover that demands your attention and makes you want to take in all the detail that it contains. Though controversial to many (as most Rock and Metal covers are to the conservative lot), it makes you ponder Dio’s statement that one shouldn’t take it at face value and rather study it a bit further.
Overall album: Holy Diver was the debut record for the Dio band and it is still considered by most Rock and Metal fans to be the group’s absolute best. It contains a number of classics that were continued concert staples, with many former members performing them live to this day in the two groups of Last In Line and Dio Disciples. It encapsulates the larger than life spirit of Ronnie James Dio (R.I.P.) and he ensemble of talented musicians created something that is truly…timeless!
Stand Up And Shout: This song kicks the record off into high gear. It hits you with a powerful riff that Vivian Campbell throws out followed by the rest of the band chiming in with their parts. Ronnie lays it on thick with his vocals and no doubt this is a song that is meant to be heard live and one which gets the crowd going. There’s a fine balance it is able to ride out, of it being a classic rock song and metal anthem as well.
Holy Diver: Arguably the most played and most well known from the Dio catalog, Holy Diver is one for the history books. The slow rise and fall of the keyboards gives way to the recognizable riff that fans across the years have greatly adored. The great production and crystal sound make this epic track standout on so many levels. You can just feel the tightness of all four members playing on this one. Though personally, I wish this was the opening track of the album as it just feels like it would have been the right way to go about it. 🙂
Gypsy: Crunchy, heavy and pounding are the way to describe this song. It maintains its mid-tempo pace and draws inspiration from points in Ronnie’s previous times in Black Sabbath and Rainbow. But at the same time you can also notice how the music swirls and follows Ronnie’s vocals so well.
Caught In The Middle: This one has a great groove and dare I say a more commercial appeal to it. It’s perhaps the more radio friendly songs on the album. Lyrically like all the others on the album, it contains a lot of poetry and innuendos within it. It’s a ton of fun to listen to.
Don’t Talk To Strangers: This is gorgeous. It combines a ballad and hard rocker together. Most notable is the way Ronnie owns the verse sections. His warning to the listener and bemoaning the fate of the word are something to behold. I would describe this as the most diverse track on the album that combines a series elements with a soaring middle section.
Straight Through The Heart: Vinny shows of his chops here and pushes the rest of the band forward with his stellar drumming. Like Caught In The Middle, this song also leans more to a radio friendly. But don’t get the wrong idea, it doesn’t sell itself out. Rather it packs a neat punch and rides well on its solid melody structure.
Invisible: A very interesting swirling start that leads to that epic vocal delivery we all love Ronnie for. It starts in a ballad type of way before launching into a hard bound attack on the senses. Jimmy Bain (R.I.P.) and Vinny Appice do a great job of keeping the underlying section of the song solid.
Rainbow In The Dark: And this is the one so many fans wait for. The massive riff is complimented by the dynamic keyboard sound, which lifts this track on to a whole other level. Again, it’s one of the most well known Dio songs and it balance a slight pop rock feature with its classic roots in traditional metal. It’s one of those songs that stays in your mind long after the last note has been played. Vivian delivers a classic solo on this one.
Shame On The Night: A bluesy and laid back type of track that also contains and eerie texture across it. Jimmy and Vivian trade spots across the entire melody section. Ronnie’s sneering and spiteful way of singing on this song demonstrate how powerful his voice was. The final part lifts the listeners mind up into the night sky to behold a ominous scene below. In short, the band literally paints the scene through this great album closure.
Ultimate Album Song: Rainbow In The Dark
The Band: Vinny Appice (Drums), Ronnie James Dio (Vocals/ Synthesizers), Vivian Campbell (Guitar), Jimmy Bain (Bass/ Keyboards)