Autobiographical Order No. 606: Dio – Holy Diver

Look folks, I warned you back a few weeks ago with Horrendous: There’s going to be a lot of metal in the next few months. We just gotta power through it, we’ll all get through it together and eventually I’ll get the chance to talk about The Meters and Herbie Hancock and whatever else. Unless you are 100 percent here for the metal vinyl content, in which case: Enjoy! Bang your head and enjoy your metal health. (I have no Quiet Riot, though. Sorry.)

But we all love Dio, right? Of course we do. I remember when he died, it was a huge blow—metalheads all over were pretty seriously affected by the loss of one of the game’s best wailers. And that was over 10 years ago, a fact that kind of blew my mind when I was doing some research recently. There are a lot of reasons why Dio was so beloved in the metal community, though. He fronted Rainbow, for one, who helped create the template for heavy metal as we know it. And then he fronted Black Sabbath for a few albums after Ozzy Osbourne left the band (though Ozzy himself had some killer solo material around that same time.). Lastly, Dio launched dio with this album, Holy Diver, a classic slice of heavy metal with all the camp and glory you could ask for.

Now, to be fair, my first experience with Holy Diver was in college, when friends of mine discovered, 20 years after the fact, the video for the title track—which involves Dio holding a sword! And of course the lyrics are just oblique as hell: “Ride the tiger, you can see his stripes but you know that he’s clean/Can’t you see what I mean.” No Ronnie, I don’t see what you mean. But it doesn’t matter; I’m all for keeping it simple, songs about sex and rock ‘n’ roll and the like, but heavy metal is about wilding out, embracing the escapist and absurd. And the song rocks like hell, so it’s almost like none of that matters anyway.

This album also has “Rainbow in the Dark,” which I think was the name of a gay metal night in New York for a while, and it’s also the rare metal classic to prominently feature synths over guitars (and it’s great, by the way, though I know some of the more conservative metalheads get weird about synths). Regardless, it’s a gem, an earworm and another ripper. And the album cover has a priest getting chain-whipped by a giant devil in the ocean, so yeah, checks out, metal AF. I’m sure the PMRC loved that.

I bought this for something like $7 back in 2017 in the middle of a buy-every-metal-album-ever mode, and it was money well spent. All hail Dio.

Rating: 9.1

Sound Quality: Good/Great

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