Wow, this is an extremely tough one for me to write. I remember when Dio announced that they were going to play my favorite songs from start to finish in concert, and the only thing I had was jealousy because I couldn’t be there. The chance to hear songs like “Invisible” and “Shame On The Night” live – songs I’d never seen performed before, was like a dream come true. When they announced it would be recorded for a DVD and CD release, that was a good enough second fiddle for me to be content with.
Sadly, I’ve received the CD and it’s just not very good and what’s not good is the most surprising of all. It is the great one himself, Ronnie James Dio, who doesn’t live up to the incredible legacy he has built over so many years of ass-kicking metal as a solo artist and the lead vocalist of Rainbow and Black Sabbath. Dio sounds very rough on this one.
Songs like “Holy Diver,” “Gypsy,” and arguably his best solo song, “Don’t Talk To Strangers” feature a Dio I’ve never heard before – gravelly, straining to hit notes and singing a key lower to compensate. Being fair, he does pick it up some later in the set; coming around on “Rainbow In The Dark.” While it’s admirable for an artist to be bold enough to drop a CD out there without any enhancing, it truly seems like Holy Diver Live actually captures a bad Dio performance for posterity.
Musically, the rest of the band sounds solid. There’s no denying this. Dio is one of those guys who rides a wave of good and bad from record to record. After the great live album Evil Or Divine, this one falls backwards quite a bit. Sure, it’s a bit better than the abysmal Live Inferno release, but for an artist that puts out live albums every other tour, Dio should have known better than to put this one out there. At the very least, he should have captured another show.
RATING – 5/10 – The band sounds good, and the power of Dio’s voice does come around eventually, but the bulk of the appealing CD here (disc 1) is plagued by the most raspy, unpowerful voice you’ll ever hear from Ronnie James Dio.