Holy Diver (song)

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"Holy Diver"
Holy Diver Single Cover.jpg
Single by Dio
from the album Holy Diver
  • "Evil Eyes"
  • "Don't Talk to Strangers"
ReleasedAugust 1983
Format7", 12"
Sound City Studios, Los Angeles, USA
GenreHeavy metal
Warner Bros.
Songwriter(s)Ronnie James Dio
Producer(s)Ronnie James Dio
Dio singles chronology
"Holy Diver"
"Rainbow in the Dark"

"Holy Diver" is a song recorded by heavy metal band Dio. It was released in August 1983 as the lead single from the band's debut album of the same name. Although it only reached number 40 on the Mainstream Rock chart at that time, today it is one of Dio's most popular songs. When played on the radio, many stations cut the extended instrumental intro sequence. Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the song was placed on the list of post-9/11 inappropriate titles distributed by Clear Channel. In 2009, Holy Diver placed 43rd on VH1's Top 100 Hard Rock Songs.[1]

Dio said the lyrics are about a Christ figure on another planet who sacrifices himself to redeem his people. When the people learn that he intends to leave them to save people on other planets, they selfishly ask him to stay.[2]

Music video[edit]

The music video for "Holy Diver", directed and edited by Arthur Ellis, features Dio as a hairy barbarian adventuring through a desolate church (the then recently burnt-out St Mark's Church, Silvertown in east London, which is now a music venue). First he strikes a shrouded figure and his hobgoblin friend with his sword, but instead of killing them he turns them into rats. He later visits a blacksmith who is forging a sword. He throws his sword in the trash and deftly catches the newly forged one. Walking through a corridor, he encounters three seated hooded figures. As the camera pans across them, the third slowly raises its head to reveal eyes resembling those of a cat. The final shots show Dio exiting the church.

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1983) Peak
Germany (Official German Charts)[3] 52
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[4] 60
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[5] 72
US Billboard Rock Tracks 40

Killswitch Engage version[edit]

"Holy Diver"
Holy Diver (Killswitch Engage).jpg
Single by Killswitch Engage
from the album As Daylight Dies (Special Edition)
ReleasedAugust 17, 2007
Songwriter(s)Ronnie James Dio
Producer(s)Adam Dutkiewicz, Joel Stroetzel
Killswitch Engage singles chronology
"The Arms of Sorrow"
"Holy Diver"
"This Is Absolution"

Killswitch Engage covered the song for the compilation High Voltage!: A Brief History of Rock for Kerrang! magazine. The song was later re-released for the special edition of As Daylight Dies. A live version of the song is also featured on the Special Edition of their 2009 album Killswitch Engage, then in 2014, the song was re-released on the compilation album entitled Ronnie James Dio This Is Your Life. This version of the song as well as the original composed by Dio are DLC for the guitar video game Rocksmith 2014.

Music video[edit]

The band released a music video for their version. Directed by Brian Thompson,[6] the video features a comical take on Dio's original music video.

Track listing[edit]

1."Holy Diver" (Dio cover)4:10

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (2007) Peak
US Mainstream Rock (Billboard)[7] 12


Killswitch Engage

Other versions[edit]

  • Pat Boone, on his album In a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy, with Ronnie James Dio himself on backing vocals.
  • Otyg recorded a version and have also performed it live.
  • Eläkeläiset (Humppa band from Finland) reinterpret it in their song Humpparaakki on their album Humppamaratooni.
  • Sum 41 played the song on acoustic guitar for the MTV show Jammed.
  • Children of Bodom paid homage to this theme including its initial riff in the intro to their song "Downfall" in live shows; this can be heard and seen in the Chaos Ridden Years live album/DVD.
  • Sons of Butcher have also performed it live.
  • Tenacious D has performed parts of the song live.
  • Nightwish has performed the song during a soundcheck for a live concert.[8]
  • HolyHell has done a cover of the song at some live performances.
  • Axel Rudi Pell, a good friend of Dio's, recorded a ballad cover on his compilation album, The Ballads IV in 2011 with Johnny Gioeli on vocals.
  • Holy Mother played a cover of it in the tribute album Holy Dio.
  • Ryan Adams covered the song live, solo and with just an acoustic guitar on March 3, 2012 at Regent Theatre, Melbourne, Australia.
  • Veronica Falls teamed up with Jeremy Warmsley of Summer Camp to cover the song live at a gig in Sheffield, England on 6 February 2013.
  • Pain of Salvation perform a jazz version of it on their 2014 album Falling Home.
  • Steve 'N' Seagulls play a country-version on their album "Farm Machine".
  • Dan Reed covered the song live at The Winchester Music Hall in Lakewood, Ohio. in 2010.[9]
  • Swiss heavy metal group Burning Witches has covered the song live and it appears on their EP "Burning Alive" as a live version. In 2018, the band recorded a studio version for their album "Hexenhammer".


  1. ^ "spreadit.org music". Archived from the original on February 12, 2009. Retrieved February 7, 2009.
  2. ^ "RONNIE JAMES DIO interview on religion and the Devil 2004 | Raw & Uncut". BangerTV. YouTube. December 15, 2015. Retrieved November 22, 2018.
  3. ^ "Musicline.de – DIO Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
  4. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – DIO – Holy Diver". Singles Top 100.
  5. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  6. ^ "Holy Diver | Killswitch Engage | Music Video". MTV. Viacom Media Networks. August 6, 2007. Retrieved January 3, 2013.
  7. ^ "Killswitch Engage Chart History (Mainstream Rock)". Billboard.
  8. ^ Nightwish Soundcheck - Airport + Holy Diver
  9. ^ Dan Reed at The Winchester Music Hall in Lakewood, Ohio.

External links[edit]