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Could Have Been An Early Classic - 38%

OzzyApu, December 29th, 2010

This is as far back as most Grave Digger fans can go. Only a couple years after the formation of the band, Boltendahl and crew held their ground as a three-piece. Any doubt as to whether they could compose songs was squashed by this long demo. I’ve seen demos longer and full-lengths shorter than this, but even a little boost in the production quality could have turned this into a full-length. The band had their sound together, each member was proficient enough with their instrument, and seeing as how Grave Digger has a habit of churning out albums fast, I doubt it’d be much of an issue if this was a full-length.

Anyway, for something this early in the band’s career, expect really shoddy production. Lo-fi atmosphere, drowned instruments, distant vocals and drums, high reverb, and a musty tone. This mixing never changes dramatically between tracks, which avoids irritation and is good for consistency. I guess it’s kind of half and half though, with “The Loser”, “Shoot Her Down”, and “2000 Light Years…” clearer and more balanced than the other three tracks. However, it’s an uninteresting production job that allows the listener to barely hear what’s going on in the song, and there isn’t even a lot of fuzziness or scratchiness blocking the instruments.

The most apparent piece is Boltendahl’s bass playing, which is bubbly and dense as it maintains the rhythm in your face. The drumming isn’t tinny or anything, but it’s buried right next to the guitars under the bass. Sad, because it’s energetic drumming, much like the riffs and leads by Masson. The dude’s blaring with ballsy, melodic speed / heavy metal monster-riffs (that the bass replicates), and the guitar tone itself is hefty and wretched. If it wasn’t so buried, it’d be contributing so much more to this demo. In one case (“Ride On”) the botched tone sort of helps Masson’s leads sound cryptic and menacing as they howl away from the doomy bass groove. For the rest, the riffs take commands from Boltendahl’s harsh barks and wails, going up and down the clean spectrum.

So I’d take this one for what it’s worth. Appreciate it for early heavy metal that at times borders thrash and hell even extreme metal if you go that way. Nowadays, Boltendahl has Jens Becker so there’s no need for him to pick up the bass again. Whatever, shoot by with some free time and download this demo for early renditions of early Grave Digger tunes.