Mandatory Metal: 5 Essential Dio Songs

Ronnie James Dio, 1990; photo by Ann Summa/Getty Images

Heavy music is full of legendary bands boasting deep catalogs stacked with iconic songs — sometimes it can be hard to know where to start, or what to consider their best. With that in mind, we present the “Mandatory Metal” lists, which collect what we consider to be the definitive tracks from various members of the metallurgic pantheon. Up today, Dio, the eponymous power-metal outfit fronted by pint-sized powerhouse Ronnie James Dio, he of the voice and personality big enough to replace a guy named Ozzy in a band called Black Sabbath. The group has a deep catalog full of chalice-raising numbers, but in our opinion, these classic cuts are their most essential. If you disagree, sound off on The Pit Facebook page.

“HOLY DIVER”
ALBUM: HOLY DIVER

After a two-album stint with Sabbath, pint-size pipe-master Ronnie James Dio goes solo in ’82 and proceeds to write this chalice-hoisting, castle-storming ode to the creatures of the night. Look out!
Sample lyrics: “Ride the tiger/You can see his stripes, but you know he’s clean/Oh, don’t you see what I mean?”

“RAINBOW IN THE DARK”
ALBUM: HOLY DIVER

This all-time classic features an infectious keyboard intro, hott lixx — courtesy of future Whitesnake/Def Leppard guitarist Vivian Campbell — and some of RJD’s most comically awesome lyrics.
Sample lyrics: “When there’s lightning/You know it always brings me down/’Cause it’s free, and I see that it’s me/Who’s lost and never found.”

“STRAIGHT THROUGH THE HEART”
ALBUM: HOLY DIVER

Dio’s behemoth rhythm section — ex-Sabbath drummer Vinny Appice and ex-Rainbow bassist Jimmy Bain — leads RJD’s epic charge against imaginary adversaries who keep stabbing him you-know-where.
Sample lyrics: “Hanging from the cobwebs in your mind/It looks like a long, long way to fall/No one ever told me life was kind/I guess I never heard it, never heard it all.”

“THE LAST IN LINE”
ALBUM: THE LAST IN LINE

It starts off as a suspiciously un-metal power ballad, but when the triumphant title track from Dio’s second album kicks in, you’re pretty much obligated to throw the goat.
Sample lyrics: “We’re all born upon the cross/The throw before the toss/You can release yourself/But the only way is down.”

“WE ROCK”
ALBUM: THE LAST IN LINE

With a bass line worthy of Maiden’s Steve Harris, Jimmy Bain propels the 1984 arena anthem into the stratosphere while RJD repeats the song’s title 28 times — just in case you missed the first 27.
Sample lyrics: “We rock/we rock/we rock!”