Album review by Dio: Holy Diver (Super Deluxe Edition).
Before the release of Holy diver, Ronnie James Dio was just the best hired gun in rock’n’roll history. In 1974, Deep Purple’s Roger Glover drew the little American, born Ronald Padavona, to sing at his wet water soaked rock opera, The butterfly ball and the grasshopper party. Dio’s performance impressed former Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore so much 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, and took on the daunting task of replacing the recent solo Ozzy Osbourne for the band Heaven and hell. Dios second album with Sabbath, 1981s Mob rules, was another masterpiece, but Dio began to get tired of being overshadowed by 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 cried.
There was no doubt about what the 40-year-old singer would call his new band. Dio was formally launched in the fall of 1982, with the eponymous rocker on the microphone and other Sabbath expat Vinny Appice behind the drum kit. After a brief spell with future Ozzy guitarist Jake E. Lee, the band’s lineup solidified: Dio, Appice, former Rainbow bassist Jimmy Bain, and guitarist Vivian Campbell, from the Belfast band Sweet Savage. Their first album, Holy diver, came out the following spring. The supporters were crucial, but they were just that: supporters. Finally, there was a recorded documentary by Ronnie James Dio as a true bandleader. On a new super-deluxe release with four records, his leap into auteurism sounds as visionary as 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 notes in metal history. The simple, blues-based power chord progression is an object of totemic power, passed from metal guitarist to metal guitarist as a talisman. It’s just screaming heavy metal. Variations on the riff appeared on Riots’ “Swords and Tequila” in 1981, Accept’s “Flash Rockin ‘Man” in 1982, Mercyful Fates’ “Curse of the Pharaohs” in 1983, and Iron Maiden’s “2 Minutes to Midnight” in 1984. The urgent , the double version that Vivian Campbell plays on “Stand Up and Shout” lands in the middle of that timeline, and although the resemblance to the other riffs is almost certainly coincidental, it is fitting that it announces the arrival of Dio. First on Holy diverand looking at the nine extra Dio albums he was going to make before he died of stomach cancer in 2010, the singer wanted to bend the sound and aesthetics of classical heavy metal to his liking.