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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Metal Louvre: Dio - Holy Diver

As the digital realm begins to dumb down the aesthetics of music presentation, The Metal Minute proudly begins a new feature dedicated to the visual aspect of heavy metal.

Before iTunes and Rhapsody, album covers were just as important to record sales as the product itself. Unfortunately there was a time when the adage "Don't judge a book by its cover" went to such extremes you were potentially buying crap under the guise of eye-popping art.

Nonetheless, imagery is part of the deal if you're a music lover. A good album cover helps sell. A great album cover establishes the connection between artist and listener, solidifying the bond of experience versus merely providing mere air filler.

It's only fitting we begin this tour of a Metal Louvre with the late Ronnie James Dio. This, following Ozzy's Diary of a Madman and Iron Maiden's Killers was my indoctrination into heavy music. I soon won't forget that fateful summer day in 1983 when my eyes couldn't believe what I saw on Holy Diver, much less what it heard within the first few seconds of "Stand Up and Shout." Talk about an experience.

I'd like to dedicate Holy Diver to Pastor Fred Phillips and the Woodsboro Baptists. This is all you see in a beautiful man whom you chose not to know deeper, so let the chains fly where they will. Or as Ronnie sang an album later, the chains are on...


tarleisio said...

I think that's a great idea! I'm old enough to remember the bad old days of vinyl when the cover, the liner notes, and the album itself sort of all came together in one complete visual, verbal and aural package of artistic vision called The Day I Bought That Album That Blew My Head Apart.

And promptly went home, put it on the record player and played it to death at tinnitus-inducing levels until told otherwise!

When CDs came along around 1983 or so, it just wasn't the same anymore. And in these days of streaming media and mp3s, a lot of that physical, tactile experience is lost, even if it's more practical.

There are so many great album covers out there. I think you chose a great one to start!

DPTH International said...

I agree, Ray. I have bought several albums based solely on the album cover. Some have been shit, but what can you do. Most CD stores offer listening stations now, so I can at least check the quality of the music before I buy.

Having come into the metal scene during the cassette years and eventually CD, I am used to the smaller canvas.

Still, you can't beat heavy metal album covers.

Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

Thanks, gents, I hope you enjoy this series. I've made quite a long selection list covering metal album covers from its early years to the present.

I had my share of burns from glorified packaging, but it's funny, you laugh at it all now since we were all duped back then and now know better.

Of course, this series will have a heavy lean on albums that are GOOD and happen to have incredible packaging too.

It's a celebration of art as much as the music. I'm afraid the deeper we keep digitalizing music, the visual expression will suffer or ultimately fade altogether.

Metal Mark said...

"I soon won't forget that fateful summer day in 1982 when my eyes couldn't believe what I saw on Holy Diver"

I can't believe my eyes because it actually came in 1983. Great cover though. I probably like the Last in Line just a little more for cover and music.

Here is someone else who liked this cover.

Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

okay, fine, Mark, you got me...guess I need to dust off the old memory banks...I'm fucking 40 now, Jesus :) So are you, for that matter. ; )

The Klepto said...

Although I am a child of the CD era, I still love the artwork for albums - both from the past and from the present. And I do agree that the stress for great album artwork has begun to wane, every now and then I come across something awesome.
Below is a link to my site, depicting the album artwork from the progressive metal (mostly instrumental) band Giant Squid's second release The Ichthyologist. This is a group that the only reason I picked them up was because of this artwork.

That being said, something that also grabs my eye when searching for something new is the band name itself. I have discovered some great bands, solely basing their abilities upon their name. Bands like Infectious Grooves, Droids Attack, and Goblin Cock, have all made it past the initial glance because of the name.
Something to consider, I feel.

Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

that's a good one, Klepto, and I'm especially fond of the artwork on Kylesa's Static Tensions and the latest Wolfmother, so the tradition continues as long as purists take an interest, but the more everything gets relegated to all-digital, you can kiss the art aspect's why I and my friends honor album so much as we do