Dio - Holy Diver Live (Eagle Records) - Back
Dio is one of the true metal gods for sure, and his first solo album “Holy Diver” is most certainly a powerful contribution to the metal boom of the 1980s. And to his credit, he is still putting out the same caliber of studio records to this day.

The live performance that would make up “Holy Diver Live” was recorded at London’s famed Astoria Theater way back in 1995. Ten years later, the performance would make its way onto DVD and has gotten rave reviews since. This year the entire performance has been released on CD in its entirety. The first of the two discs features a live performance of the entire “Holy Diver [1983]” album. The second disc is jam-packed with many hits from Dio’s time with famed rock groups Rainbow and Black Sabbath.

Dio begins the Holy Diver experience with a spoken word introduction that draws from lyrics and concepts from the “Holy Diver” album. I hate to say it, but it’s probably my favorite part of the entire 2-disc set.

I’m not saying that the music isn’t good; there are just a couple things about the live performance that ruin it for me. First off, most of the songs are in a different key than the originals. I’ve always believed that slight variations in the way a song is performed live is the beauty of listening to a live performance versus a studio recording; but sometimes it doesn’t work. Sometimes it is the calling card of a band that cannot duplicate its past sound. This can be for any number of reasons such as different members, different gear, and so on. But regarding “Holy Diver Live,” I don’t know what to say except that it is unfortunate that they couldn’t have performed it verbatim.

The other problem I have with the entire album is that the vocals are somewhat off. I found that some of the accents and the punchy quality of Dio’s voice were missing. I understand that a singer’s style can change for a number of reasons, but when performing an album track-for-track, I think a singer should pay close attention to how it was originally recorded.

The second disc features songs that Dio recorded with Rainbow and Black Sabbath along with the better songs from Dio’s second solo album “The Last In Line [1984].” Despite my overall issues with both discs, I’d have to say that this disc is the better of the two. One of the best performances is “Man On The Silver Mountain,” an old Rainbow classic which has always been one of my favorites. They really did a good job with it in comparison to some of the other songs which I would have expected to have been done as well. Example, “Sign Of The Southern Cross” from Black Sabbath’s “The Mob Rules [1981].” There is a real nice intro to the song which was not performed for “Holy Diver Live” which is unfortunate.

For those who don’t know Dio’s music very well (in which case I feel bad for you), “Holy Diver Live” definitely showcases the musicianship of Dio and his band which has withstood the test of time. For those who are expecting a verbatim rehashing of the original recordings, it’s not. I guess I had assumed that the recording of “Holy Diver” would have been a little better, especially because the entire live performance is named for it.

But just because this album is not what I personally expected doesn’t mean I don’t recommend it. The mix is excellent and it doesn’t sound at all fake (meaning of course that it doesn’t sound like there was any lip-syncing or computer-generated music). I guess I’d rather have a live album that isn’t exact rather than a live album that is too perfect.

Good, could have been better but FAR from the worst live album I’ve heard.

Rating:
70

Reviewed By: Brian Grefrath