With 34 years in the business, you can call German stalwart Grave Digger a career heavy metal band. Even with a break up and hiatus for six years between 1987 and 1993, the band has been going strong, in some shape or form, since 1980. Return of the Reaper marks their seventeenth studio album; do the math and that's a new album every two years.
Not unlike their 1993 comeback album The Reaper, this album returns to themes of death, the grave, hell and a few nods to war. The music of Grave Digger remains the classic heavy/speed/power metal developed in the early Eighties and finding roots in Germany, among other nations. While the speed is there, this album likely puts more 'heaviness' into the heavy metal thanks to the strong riffs and thundering drums. Yet, Grave Digger, like other bands past and present in the genre, remember that groove and melody are the hallmarks of the best heavy metal. Some of the best examples of this come with Tattooed Rider, Grave Descrator, and Dia De Los Muertos. This is also brought out in vocal arrangements, notably in the gang vocals as within Nothing to Believe.
Wild cards come, as usual, with Chris Boltendahl's vocals and the keyboard presence. To the former, Boltendahl has always had a rather gruff and raspy Lemmy style, but as he gets older he's getting rougher. One wonders how long he can keep this up. However, he holds his own in Nothing to Believe, but it also makes me wonder of auto-tuning was used to temper his raspiness. To the latter, excepting his grim reaper custome, there really seems no place for keyboard player Hans Peter Katzenburg on this album. He shows up on only two songs, briefly in both Death Smiles at All of Us and Nothing to Believe. If there's some texture elsewhere, it escaped these ears. Nevertheless, Grave Digger fans, and fans of 'keeping metal true,' should embrace this album for being both classic Grave Digger and classic heavy/power metal. Recommended.
Grave Digger fans, and fans of 'keeping metal true,' should embrace this album for being both classic Grave Digger and classic heavy/power metal. Recommended.
Mat Sinner is both an icon and legend in the German, and the larger European, hard rock and heavy metal scene. Cranking out music since 1982, Sinner is an industrious and prolific musician and producer whether through his namesake band, the heavy metal heroes Primal ... [ Read More ]