DIO - HOLY DIVER (Vertigo Records)

 

After his adventures with Elf, Rainbow and Black Sabbath the little man with the golden voice, of course we're talking about Mister Ronnie James Dio, started his own band. I suppose it wasn't that difficult for him to find first class musicians which he did with Vivian Campbell, Jimmy Bain and Vinny Appice. Ronnie James Dio proved before to be a godlike singer, the fact he had his own healthy view on Heavy Metal is not open for discussion. Dio was already immortal at that point but for the masses he's better known because of the 'Love Is All' song by Roger Glover and the Butterfly Ball. It was an immense popular hit and as far as I know it was a number one hit at several national charts. Especially the rhythm of the songs, the cartoon video clip with the frog and Dio's voice made it eternal! Ronnie James Dio is a phenomenon since, although regular people don't know his face...

 

But RJ Dio was a Metal Head and he didn't want to desert his troops. The release of the first album, of a band named after him, was sensational and received uncountable superlative reviews in 1983. Not only the fact other genres were still standing at their cradle made Dio a superstar; the debut was so strong it would have survived every storm. The tradional Heavy Metal was very successful in that era, talking about the dark kind (NWOBHM) and the more melodic genre. Gary Moore, Rainbow, Whitesnake, MSG, UFO, Scorpions, Van Halen, Accept, AC/DC,... all were fundamental bands in those days, making part of the Metal brotherhood. Nowadays ignorant youngsters are trying to label these bands as Rock bands! Damn, in those day people didn't even think to argue about it. Times did change...

 

The album takes off with the up tempo 'Stand Up And Shout' and Dio immediately showed the direction he wanted to follow. This kind of melodic compositions were the base for his clear but still aggressive sounding timbre. In the more aggressive parts he shows how strong his lungs are, in the more emotional pieces you are astonished by the beauty of his voice. The most famous proof of the strength and capabilities of RJ Dio is of course the 'Don't Talk To Strangers' song.  After all these years this is an essential song for every Metal fan. Until now I'm still getting cold shivers because of it, amazing!

 

This very first record became everlasting and I can assure you no weaknesses can be found on it. Either we talk about the mysterious title track, 'Caught In The Middle', 'Gypsy' or 'Rainbow In The Dark' (with the fantastic refrain), Dio conquered and ruled the world with this classic album. Dio proved to be a man with a vision and he didn't need Sabbath to write history.  What he did need was the freedom to release all his creativity in music and he did... Only a few seconds are enough to get all your attention to this disc, only one listen to the entire album makes you love it to infinity.

 

Not only the front man and composer deserve the honors, also the performers do. The musicians Dio chose were exclusively strong and understood perfectly what the master brain expected from them. Emotional finger fast guitar solos, colossal classic riffs, varied blistering drums,... all can be found here. Form, structure, balance, focus, and melody are in perfect balance and each song is breathtaking. By almost every Metal reviewer this album is considered the best Dio ever did. Also the front cover was remarkable because of the Catholic priest who seemed to be killed by a monster. Nowadays we have seen worse but I can assure you in that time a lot of people were shocked...except the Metal fans who hailed it since

 

No one can deny the essentials in Metal's history and this is one of those gems. As a matter of fact this CD or LP can't be missed in your collection. Soon after Dio released the follow up ''The Last In Line''. I promise you to make a review about it soon.

 

My Points: 100 / 100