Axel Rudi Pell is one of Europe's most respected guitar slingers and also one of the most prolific. Starting with the band Steeler in 1984, the German rocker has released over 25 albums and several DVD collections. The melodic metaller has never been one to slow down and will be issuing a new compilation called 'The Ballads IV.' The disc collects Pell's best ballads from 2004 till now and also features three new recordings. One of them is 'Holy Diver,' the metal standard from the late Ronnie James Dio's first solo album. Featuring vocals by former Hardline singer Johnny Gioeli, the track was recorded this past May.

"Ronnie was one of my heroes and has influenced my music a great deal," Pell tells Noisecreep via telephone from his home in Germany. "I still remember hearing Rainbow's debut album ['Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow'] back in 1975 and being blown away by his voice. I'm a very old guy [laughs], but I was lucky enough to have seen Deep Purple when they had David Coverdale as the frontman and Ronnie's band, Elf, was opening. That was like my second or third show that I had ever been to at that point. So anyway, about a year later, that's when that first Rainbow album came out. So I was already a fan of Ronnie's voice at that point," remembers Pell.

Noisecreep is pleased to bring you the exclusive premiere Pell's tribute to Dio, his version of 'Holy Diver.'

Listen to 'Holy Diver' from Axel Rudi Pell

Pell had the pleasure of spending time with Dio over the final years of his life. "Any time I ran into him, he was very nice to me. He never treated you like you like he was a rock star and you were just a fan. He would ask me about my career and what other stuff I had going on. I was such a fan of him and his work, but it was like talking to an old friend. That was the kind of person he was."

When Dio rejoined his former Black Sabbath bandmates in Heaven & Hell, Pell got to play with the supergroup. "We opened for them in 2009 and I often hung out with Ronnie after the shows here in Germany. I remember having a 2 ½ hour conversation with him in Berlin. I can't believe he's not here with us."

Pell's take on 'Holy Diver' is unorthodox in the sense that the original version was certainly not a ballad. "It could have been easy for me to pick a song from Dio's catalog that was already a ballad, but that would be boring. People ask me, "Why didn't you just cover 'Catch a Rainbow' or another song?" But I wanted to challenge myself and create something new with it. So far the people that have heard it really like it. So I think we did OK," laughs the German guitar hero.

Axel Rudi Pell's 'The Ballads IV' will be out on September 27th via SPV.