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Class 6(66)

Dio: Holy diver

04/02/11  ||  Daemonomania

Introduction

Every once in a while I sit down to write a review and am a bit intimidated. People have been listening to “Holy diver” for 27+ fucken YEARS, whereas the DaemTeam just picked it up a few months ago. “I’m not worthy”, as Wayne of Wayne’s World might say (if he hadn’t been murdered by Steven Tyler’s lips in one of those movies). What else can be written about such a landmark album that hasn’t been typed a million times before? Well, it ain’t currently covered on GD so someone had to give it a shot in the mouth. Wish me luck you dirty fucks.
h5. Songwriting

9. Nine catchy, classic tunes made to corkscrew into your brain and rotate there endlessly. Since getting “HD” I’ve had the title track, “Shame on the night”, “Straight through the heart”, “Invisible” etc. stuck in my head every day. I’m over at my buddy’s apartment right now, wasted, and he just said “Dio is the gift that keeps on giving”. He is right. Each track has got a distinctive hook, a unique section that veers off the traditional verse/chorus/verse structure, and a personality. Yes, a personality. “Stand up and shout” is a fist-clenching opener that boosts your metalhead confidence to obnoxious levels. “Holy diver” is the mysterious prophet warning you about something you can’t understand. “Gypsy” is the pothead 70’s dude who loves going down on natural bush. And so on. Like “Painkiller”, “HD” just brings one indelible WINNER after the next – the very definition of great songwriting. Minus .5 for some of “Caught in the middle”, the endless intro of the title track, and they should have gang shouted at least five more times in the first song.

Production

8.5. There was a big remastered sticker on my copy. Leading me to believe that it has been remastered. Good job.

Guitars

9. Riffs. Riiiiiiiiiffffffssssss. We want the riffs, gotta have those riffs. The guitarwork isn’t the first thing that popped out at me, but I’ve come to realize it is the glue that holds “Diver” together. As charismatic as Dio is behind the mic, without Cambell’s ballbusting axemanship we wouldn’t have a classic and a sticky mess on our hands. The rest of this review could be spent rattling off my favorite chunks of six stringing throughout, but it would be a much better bet to just go get the damn disc and hear ‘em yourself. “Straight through…” is a heavy metal guitar pleasure palace, to give but one example.

Vocals

9. Dio’s vocals were never too appealing to me, but after this I am a fucken convert. Duder belts ‘em out with the best heavy metal clean singers of all time, though Halford is clearly a league above him. I love his staccato phrasing on “Holy diver” (GET OUT!), cringe a bit at his womanly high pitch in “Don’t talk to strangers”, love his snarl in “Straight through…”, dig his epic bellows to close out “Shame on the night”. A lot of the individualistic character of these songs, and the quality of the album in general, comes from the Metal Midget’s impassioned performance time and time again. RIP man.

Bass

7. Seems pretty competent. Like every other bassist on every other album ever that is not black metal, he is given moments to show off but for the most part just keeps the backbeat beating. Sorry if this guy is your hero or inspiration for waking up in the morning or whatever.

Drums

7.5. Solid is the adjective that comes most speedily to mind. As you can clearly infer, if something can come to my mind it means that my mind was not previously blown all over the place like the only scene anyone remembers from Scanners. Your cousin Vinny must have put in a heavier performance than this now and again in Sabbath. Still, he keeps a good punchy beat going and allows the songs to drive home under the influence of rad. I salute you, Mr. Appice.

Lyrics

8.5. I dig them without fully understanding them. There is certainly an undercurrent of Christ-ism going on, but not enough to deter Daemo’s obscurely infinite despisement of the bastard Nazarene. “Stand up…” is a rallying call for sadsack Cheeto-dusted metallions everywhere to get off their asses and fly on wings of steel to Asskickville, USA. “Don’t talk…” sounds like some superstitious advice Dio might have gotten from his wrinkly Italian grandma. The rest ranges from indiscernible to pedestrian, but the key is their delivery.

Cover art

10. So awesome. Giant dog-Satan flings forth his mighty chain lasso to round up a fearful diving priest before he escapes the rocky island of damnation. Orange and gray clouds approve completely. I dig that the devil is totally giving himself the devil horns. HAIL ME, ME!

Logo

4. Not impressed. While Olde Englishe 800 is undoubtedly the most metal font, the D is only slightly larger than the IO and the whole thing looks slapdash. Someone couldn’t decide whether to make a really big D (which would have looked really stupid), or make the whole thing the same size (which would have made sense). A poor compromise was reached. At least it’s red.

Booklet

7. Not bad. My reissue has a bunch of incredibly tiny pictures of an already diminutive man hanging out with others and looking cheerful. There isn’t a five paragraph essay about what the hell some of the lyrics mean or the “making of” or anything like that. Such is life. Maybe they got nervous they’d put in all that effort, then forumer/ex-staffer Smalley would buy a copy and just throw ze booklet away.

Overall and ending rant

From the mind of the man who launched a billion mano cornutae directly to your ears with nary a hint of dust from all the years in between. This is Class to the core and deserves a spot in every metalhead’s collection. Even if you think that you hate it now because it features very little evil and those keyboards showcased via “Rainbow in the dark” make you gag, give it time. In the long run every ‘banger returns to the roots of the genre. The titans, the kings, those whose names are spoken in hushed tones. And one fine afternoon, after polishing off a few brews and realizing New Tech Deff Album 433.9 isn’t floating your boat, you will blast “Holy diver”. You will rock. You will have no choice in the matter. It will be excellent.

9

  • Information
  • Released: 1983
  • Label: WB/Mercury Records
  • Website: www.ronniejamesdio.com
  • Band
  • Ronnie James Dio (no kidding): vocals, keyboards
  • Vivian Campbell: guitars
  • Jimmy Bain: bass, keyboards
  • Vinny Appice: drums
  • Tracklist
  • 01. Stand Up and Shout
  • 02. Holy Diver
  • 03. Gypsy
  • 04. Caught in the Middle
  • 05. Don’t Talk to Strangers
  • 06. Straight Through the Heart
  • 07. Invisible
  • 08. Rainbow in the Dark
  • 09. Shame on the Night