Following his lauded success with Black Sabbath, filling in for Ozzie Osbourne, Ronnie James Dio split off on his own taking Sabbath drummer Vinny Appice with him and formed Dio, dropping metal landmark Holy Diver, on this day in 1983.
Splayed in cryptic upside down “evil” decipherings and a devil slaying a priest, the cover image alone was a quintessential dark lord salute to the fantasy-rock Dio mastered. And rightly pissed off a bunch of conservative listeners.
But Dio always encouraged people to look beyond the surface of stereotypes, calling the “evil” trick coincidental and the devil/priest image just as easily a priest killing a devil. And image aside, his sneering octaves on the title track made one forget about all that in lieu of a minimalist thrasher about a tiger, that people are still trying to make sense of, long after a mighty air guitar session. Which is kind of the point. Enter the late Dio’s howl:
Ride the tiger
You can see his stripes but you know he’s clean
Oh don’t you see what I mean