Holy Diver

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Holy Diver
The cover features Murray throwing a chained priest into the ocean
Studio album by
ReleasedMay 25, 1983 (1983-05-25)
StudioSound City (Van Nuys, California)
GenreHeavy metal[1]
LabelWarner Bros.
ProducerRonnie James Dio
Dio chronology
Holy Diver
The Last in Line
Ronnie James Dio chronology
Live Evil
Holy Diver
The Last in Line
Singles from Holy Diver
  1. "Holy Diver"
    Released: August 1983
  2. "Rainbow in the Dark"
    Released: October 21, 1983

Holy Diver is the debut studio album by the American heavy metal band Dio, released in 1983. The album was acclaimed by the music press and is the band's most successful effort.


Released on May 25, 1983, the album has been hailed by critics as Dio's best work and a classic staple in the heavy metal genre.[2] The album was certified gold in the US on September 12, 1984, and platinum on March 21, 1989.[3] In the UK it attained Silver certification (60,000 units sold) by the British Phonographic Industry, achieving this in January 1986, at the same time as The Last in Line.[4]

The original vinyl release had a photomontage LP-liner, with images from both Rainbow and Black Sabbath days.

The album was remastered and re-released by Rock Candy Records in 2005. The only notable addition to the original album is an audio interview with Ronnie James Dio. Tracks 10–19 on the 2005 edition are Dio's answers to various questions about the album. The questions are not posed during the interview itself, but can be found inside the CD's booklet instead. The album, along with The Last in Line and Sacred Heart, were released in a new two-CD deluxe edition on March 19, 2012 through Universal for worldwide distribution outside the U.S.[5]

"Caught in the Middle" shares the main guitar riff with Campbell's previous band Sweet Savage's song "Straight Through the Heart" (1983), whose title was used for another song in this album.

Album art[edit]

The album art is illustrated by Randy Berrett. It features the band's mascot Murray, a demonic creature, pulling or whipping a snapped metal chain and a man wearing a Catholic priest's attire flailing and splashing around in a body of water, wrapped up and locked in the other end of the broken chain. Dio was quick to argue that appearances are misleading, that it could just as easily be a priest killing a devil, wanting people not to "judge a book by its cover".[6]

Murray is featured on several other Dio albums.[7]


Around the time of making the album, a rise of heroic adventure elements in popular culture (such as J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings books and role-playing games Dungeons & Dragons) were having influence. "Much of heavy metal took place on similar turf, a realm of dark towers and impenetrable wilderness populated by battles and adversity."[8] When Ronnie James Dio had been with Black Sabbath, "He reverently refurbished and reinvented the band's stately doom with grandiose concepts...Dio found a fertile fantasy framework for the big Sabbath themes of madness and desolation".[8] Dio, who had read Sir Walter Scott, Arthurian tales, and science fiction growing up, had previously used fantasy lyrics in his early 1970s band Elf.[8] He explained the influence of his youthful reading to an interviewer, saying, "When I became a songwriter, I thought what better thing to do than do what no one else is doing...to tell fantasy tales. Smartest thing I ever did."[8]


Professional ratings
Review scores
Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal10/10[9]

AllMusic reviewer Eduardo Rivadavia praises the album, stating that "aside from Ronnie's unquestionably stellar songwriting, Holy Diver's stunning quality and consistency owed much to his carefully chosen bandmates, including powerhouse drummer and fellow [Black] Sabbath survivor Vinny Appice, veteran bassist Jimmy Bain, and a phenomenal find in young Irish guitarist Vivian Campbell, whose tastefully pyrotechnic leads helped make this the definitive Dio lineup. Holy Diver remains the undisputed highlight of Dio's career...and, indeed, one of the finest pure heavy metal albums of the 1980s."[2] Canadian reviewer Martin Popoff describes the album as "quintessential traditional metal", with Ronnie James Dio "almost single-handedly reinventing gothic hard rock for the '80s, incorporating strong melodic hooks and more than the genre's usual share of velvety, classical-based pyrotechnics."[9] Kerrang! gave the album a positive review in 1983 and Holy Diver ended up at no. 5 in the British magazine's End of Year list of best releases.[13] Today, Kerrang! still considers it a "perfect melodic metal album" and an "essential purchase".[14]

The rock historian Ian Christe relates that for the post-Sabbath solo career "Dio simplified his stories substantially for a younger heavy metal audience. The 1983 debut Holy Diver, by his band Dio, reduced lush moral landscapes to simple good-versus-evil conflicts, using the lyrical duality of 'Rainbow in the Dark' and 'Holy Diver' to raise questions about deceit and hypocrisy in romance and religion. In the sharp contrasts of Dio's imagery, there was always a built-in contradiction that fed adolescent revolt: a black side to every white light, and a hidden secret behind every loud proclamation of truth. In a similar way, Dio's music balanced torrents of rage with brief acoustic interludes."[8]

On IGN's list of "Top 25 Metal Albums", Holy Diver is at number 8, and this statement followed, "In all his bands, in all his roles, in all his musical vagabond choices, Ronnie James Dio has been fortunate enough to be associated with some of heavy metal's best -- Sabbath, Rainbow, and his own band Dio. To best represent his tenure in the genre, one must look no farther than Holy Diver. His first album with his new band was also his best. It is one of metal's best albums, and it spawned two of the greatest metal songs of the '80s: 'Holy Diver' and 'Rainbow in the Dark'. Featuring the underrated Vivian Campbell on guitar, this album showed that Dio could do it on his own."[15] In 2017, it was ranked 16th on Rolling Stone's list of "100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time".[16]

Track listing[edit]

Original release[edit]

All lyrics are written by Ronnie James Dio, music as stated[17]

Side one
1."Stand Up and Shout"Dio, Jimmy Bain3:18
2."Holy Diver"Dio5:53
3."Gypsy"Dio, Vivian Campbell3:40
4."Caught in the Middle"Dio, Vinny Appice, Campbell4:17
5."Don't Talk to Strangers"Dio4:54
Side two
1."Straight Through the Heart"Dio, Bain4:35
2."Invisible"Dio, Campbell5:26
3."Rainbow in the Dark"Dio, Appice, Bain, Campbell4:14
4."Shame on the Night"Dio, Appice, Bain, Campbell5:29
Total length:41:46[2]

Deluxe edition[edit]

Deluxe edition disc 2
1."Evil Eyes" (Studio B-side of "Holy Diver")Dio3:46
2."Stand Up and Shout" (Live B-side of "Rainbow in the Dark" 12")Dio, Bain4:13
3."Straight Through the Heart" (Live B-side of "Rainbow in the Dark" 12")Dio, Bain4:36
4."Stand Up and Shout" (Live at the King Biscuit Flower Hour, October 30, 1983)Dio, Bain3:38
5."Shame on the Night" (Live at the King Biscuit Flower Hour, October 30, 1983)Dio, Appice, Bain, Campbell5:20
6."Children of the Sea" (Live at the King Biscuit Flower Hour, October 30, 1983)Geezer Butler, Dio, Tony Iommi, Bill Ward6:15
7."Holy Diver" (Live at the King Biscuit Flower Hour, October 30, 1983)Dio5:57
8."Rainbow in the Dark" (Live at the King Biscuit Flower Hour, October 30, 1983)Dio, Appice, Bain, Campbell5:14
9."Man on the Silver Mountain" (Live at the King Biscuit Flower Hour, October 30, 1983)Ritchie Blackmore, Dio6:51




  • Engineered by Angelo Arcuri, assisted by Ray Leonard
  • Recorded at Sound City, Los Angeles
  • Mastered by George Marino at Sterling Sound, New York
  • Remastered by Gary Moore at Universal Digital Mastering, London (2005 Rock Candy reissue)
  • Remastered by Andy Pearce (2012 Universal Deluxe Edition)
  • Remastered by Steve Hoffman (2012 Audio Fidelity 24K edition)
  • Illustration by Randy Barrett
  • Original art rendering by Gene Hunter
  • Original concept by Wendy Dio


Weekly chart performance for Holy Diver
Chart (1983) Peak
Finnish Albums (The Official Finnish Charts)[19] 15
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[20] 52
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[21] 43
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[22] 18
UK Albums (OCC)[23] 13
US Billboard 200[24] 56
2012 weekly chart performance for Holy Diver
Chart (2012) Peak
Japanese Albums (Oricon)[25] 176
Chart (2021) Peak
Scottish Albums (OCC)[26] 68
UK Rock & Metal Albums (OCC)[27] 9


Certifications for Holy Diver
Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[4] Silver 60,000^
United States (RIAA)[3] 2× Platinum 2,000,000

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The 100 Greatest Metal Albums of All time". Rolling Stone. Penske Media Corporation. June 21, 2017. Retrieved October 2, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d Rivadavia, Eduardo. "Holy Diver Review". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved March 13, 2007.
  3. ^ a b "American album certifications – Dio – Holy Diver". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved May 11, 2022.
  4. ^ a b "British album certifications – Dio – Holy Diver". British Phonographic Industry.
  5. ^ Siegler, Joe (February 1, 2012). "Dio Deluxe Editions". Black Sabbath Online.com. Retrieved October 27, 2013.
  6. ^ Quoted from the interview on the 2005 remastered CD edition of the album, track 19, 00'48
  7. ^ Van Pelt, Doug (May–June 1997). "What Dio Sez". HM Magazine (65). ISSN 1066-6923. Archived from the original on December 12, 2000. Retrieved April 30, 2007.
  8. ^ a b c d e Christe, Ian (2003). "Heavy Metal America: Highways & Video Waves". Sound of the Beast: The Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal. New York, New York: HarperCollins. pp. 67–68. ISBN 978-0-380-81127-4.
  9. ^ a b Popoff, Martin (November 1, 2005). The Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal: Volume 2: The Eighties. Burlington, Ontario, Canada: Collector's Guide Publishing. p. 98. ISBN 978-1894959315.
  10. ^ "Holy Diver CD (1989)". Rakuten. Retrieved January 4, 2016.
  11. ^ Sanders, Brad (July 9, 2022). "Dio: Holy Diver (Super Deluxe Edition) Album Review". Pitchfork. Retrieved July 9, 2022.
  12. ^ "Dio – Holy Diver (album review 5)". Retrieved March 16, 2022.
  13. ^ "Kerrang! End Of year Lists 1983". Rocklist.net. Retrieved October 29, 2013.
  14. ^ "Where to Start with Dio". Kerrang!. Archived from the original on March 6, 2014. Retrieved April 15, 2016.
  15. ^ Spence D. and Ed T. (September 14, 2011). "Top 25 Metal Albums - Music Feature at IGN". IGN. Retrieved October 22, 2011.
  16. ^ Epstein, Dan (June 21, 2017). "100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media LLC. Retrieved June 22, 2017.
  17. ^ "Dio (2) - Holy Diver". Discogs.
  18. ^ Saulnier, Jason (March 24, 2012). "Vinny Appice Interview". Music Legends. Retrieved May 6, 2013.
  19. ^ Pennanen, Timo (2006). Sisältää hitin – levyt ja esittäjät Suomen musiikkilistoilla vuodesta 1972 (in Finnish) (1st ed.). Helsinki: Kustannusosakeyhtiö Otava. ISBN 978-951-1-21053-5.
  20. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Dio – Holy Diver" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved October 30, 2023.
  21. ^ "Charts.nz – Dio – Holy Diver". Hung Medien. Retrieved October 30, 2023.
  22. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Dio – Holy Diver". Hung Medien. Retrieved October 30, 2023.
  23. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved October 30, 2023.
  24. ^ "Dio Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved October 30, 2023.
  25. ^ ロニー・ジェームス・ディオのアルバム (in Japanese). Oricon. Retrieved October 28, 2013.
  26. ^ "Official Scottish Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved October 30, 2023.
  27. ^ "Official Rock & Metal Albums Chart Top 40". Official Charts Company. Retrieved October 30, 2023.

External links[edit]