These are Ronnie James Dio's five best doom metal songs outside of his two stints in Black Sabbath.

Leaving Sabbath in the mix would simply make this too easy of a task and there's some hidden gems and deep cuts in Ronnie's catalog that rarely enter the general conversation. The early '90s Dio records, while lacking in enduring hit songs, make up for it with understated quality and are among his darkest efforts.

Ronnie's lyrics had a particular focus on good vs. evil and light and shade. Even with a grim forecast, the light always found a way to poke through. Oftentimes, it was through phrases that felt more like ancient words of wisdom than just heavy metal lyrics.

Outside of the three albums he made with Black Sabbath, the metal legend's music isn't known for being slow, plodding and ominous.

And, while, yes, we still adore the time-honored hits, it's refreshing to dive into this less discussed facet of Ronnie's music.

Let's get doomy!

Ronnie James Dio's Five Best Doom Metal Songs (Outside of Black Sabbath)

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Dio, "Strange Highways" (Strange Highways)

After stepping back into Black Sabbath and right back out following one record, 1994 was a crucial year for Dio. He debuted yet another new guitarist — Tracy G — and carried over the doomy vibe of Sabbath's '92 effort Dehumanizer.

Strange Highways is the true hidden gem of the Dio catalog and diehard have long celebrated its strength and change of musical direction.

The first minute is occupied by mystical clean-toned guitars for a spotlight moody vocal from Ronnie. The next six minutes are unrelentingly slow, driven by a grimy, snarling riff and Vinny Appice's herculean drum might.

Doomiest Lyric: "Every time I climb the mountain and it turned into a hill / Well, I promised me I'd disappear and now I know I will."

Dio, "Shame on the Night" (Holy Diver)

Of the five songs here, this Holy Diver closer is certainly the most well-known.

There's so much push and pull and expression over the 1983 classic's first eight songs. It exhibited range and freshness as Ronnie embarked on yet another new adventure, rounded out by veteran and newcomer hotshot musicians.

The only heavy metal avenue those tracks didn't explore was plodding, brooding doom.

"Shame on the Night" even sounds like it would've been perfectly at home on either Heaven and Hell or Mob Rules.

Doomiest Lyric: "Shame on the sun for the light you sold, I've lost my hold on the magic flame / But now I know you name, oh, Lord, just go the way you came again"

READ MORE: See Photos of Ronnie James Dio Through the Years

Dio, "Evil on Queen Street" (Lock Up the Wolves)

If Strange Highways is the hidden gem of the Dio discography, then can we call Lock Up the Wolves the dark horse?

The most impressive thing about this 1990 effort is that it features an 18-year-old Rowan Robertson. The young guitarist plays guitar licks that are so bluesy it's like he'd lived a hundred lifetimes of heartbreak before coming of age.

The title track is an eight-and-a-half-minute merchant of doom, but we're going somewhere else with this pick. "Evil on Queen Street" is equal parts doom and blues and offers a unique foundation for Ronnie's vocals and lyrical themes.

Oh the things we'd do to have heard Robertson write with Whitesnake's David Coverdale after Ronnie went back to Black Sabbath at the end of the Lock Up the Wolves album cycle...

Doomiest Lyric: "I saw the house in the dark / It seemed to say come touch me, I've got a heart / Open the door to my soul."

Dio, "The Man Who Would Be King" (Master of the Moon)

Master of the Moon, which came out in 2004, proved to be the final Dio studio album.

In 2006, Ronnie linked back up with his Black Sabbath bandmates Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Vinny Appice under the moniker Heaven & Hell. They toured performing only Dio-era Sabbath material and released one album, The Devil You Know, in 2009.

This record has held up fine and is the doomiest Dio full length since Strange Highways. Craig Goldy lays some bricks on Master of the Moon, countering bludgeoning riffs with dissonant chords that wash over it all. The best evidence? Well, "The Man Who Would Be King" of course.

Doomiest Lyric: "Bless me father, I must go away / To save us from the ones who don't believe."

Heaven and Hell, "Bible Black" (The Devil You Know)

Call us cheaters, we don't care. The band Heaven & Hell was basically just Dio-era Black Sabbath operating under a different name for reasons any fan can speculate without stretching their imaginations as far as Dio's lyrics does.

Anyway, it is a different name, so it counts!

Truthfully, there's a number of songs that could've been chosen here. Opening "Atom and Evil" is a knuckledragger, "Fear" sounds like groovy death metal icons Bolt Thrower could've written that main riff and "Breaking Into Heaven" is appropriately at a crawling pace.

But the lead single "Bible Black" edges them out. At the time The Devil You Know dropped, hearing this before the album gave fans confidence that this record was going to meet lofty expectations. It's on the more uptempo side of doom, but irrefutably doom nonetheless.

Doomiest Lyric: "He locks himself away and tastes the silence, hungry for another bite of wrong / And just the words 'oh, Lord, please take me with you,' took him to a place we don't belong."

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