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Admittedly I don't listen to a whole deal of power metal, but I am convinced that the other fuckers out there would have a fucking hard time competing with "Rheingold", the the glorious 10th studio album from German stalwarts Grave Digger. For every bit as awesome and pretty much perfect as "The Grave Digger" was, "Rheingold" is somehow even better. Based on the work "Das Ring des Nibelungen" (The Ring of the Nibelung) created by classical German maestro Richard Wagner, Grave Digger's 2003 effort rises to the occasion with their usual vigor times ten. The riffs, choruses, solos, vocals, all now less then just great power metal, but more now an epic that nearly matches the great classics of Maestro Wagner.
The line-up from 'The Grave Digger" returns with a vengeance on here. Chris Boltendahl lets his raspy yells and howls go all out, yet there's a certain sense of him restraining just slightly, probably in order not to go too OTT. Manni Schmidt's guitar work is even stronger; his riffs are highly memorable and stupendous, not mention his immense solos being filled with power and emotion. Jens Becker's bass is sadly downplayed on here more than on the last album; he gets buried under the guitar and mostly just goes along with it but helps add that much needed extra boost of heaviness anyhow. Stefan Arnold's drumming is still pretty articulate, pounding and precise, while the keyboards of HP Katzenberg are even more prominent than on "The Grave Digger", lending a rich and often epic atmosphere to a number of tracks.
There are 10 tracks on "Rheingold". Or should I say ten masterpieces of modern heavy metal done right and then some? Grave Digger takes today's power metal and gives it fucking BALLS on "Rheingold". Where to start...well, maybe "Dragon"? That chorus is silly but so badass at the same time; addictive and easy to sing along with. "Giants" also pounds along with a braindead-simple chorus but the energy of the riffs and the big solo turn it into something great, while the merciless speed metal tune "Liar" blazes with a stronger, catchier chorus to go with the slicing guitars and booming drums. "Sword" is quite great too, a slower, even doomy tale with a building, intense chorus that will be sure to raise your hair on end. Like any good metal album we have serious highlights, and on here we have the awesome "Valhalla" and the incredible "Maidens of War". "Valhalla" is just too cool, a high octane rocker with one of the catchiest, most addictive main riffs of any song I ever heard, not to mention that pre-chorus and chorus; dead simple but oh so fun to sing with! "Maidens of War" is even better. This song is loaded with sharp tempo changes, going from a breezy speed metal song during the breaks to slow and semi-acoustic in the verses. Then the chorus...wow. There is SO MUCH energy and passion behind this chorus that it's impossible not to get in to. Let's just say I got a few odd looks at me at work while listening to this one.
Overall, "Rheingold" fucking rocks. There are zero "skip" songs, loads of energy within the band, and more incredible choruses and memorable riffs than you get shake a used dragonforce LP at. If you don't have this masterpiece yet, then get it NOW; if you love and appreciate good power metal, then you're not gonna be sorry.