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...Baby baby baby... - 36%

Felix 1666, October 21st, 2016
Written based on this version: 1986, 12" vinyl, Noise Records

An artwork that displays a Donald Duck robot? Respect for this highly original package. Too bad that Micky Mouse is missing. The back cover is an impertinence, too. Boltendahl's make-up artist has done a really tough job. The lead vocalist looks like he wants to get hired by Europe, Ratt or Poison (of course, I am not speaking of the eponymous German black metal cult band) and his band mates should go to bed. They seem to be extremely tired. Let's be glad that they can keep their eyes open. With that said, we take a trip back in time.

Boltendahl gave an interview for the Metal Hammer magazine which was printed in their issue of December 1986. He was honest: "I rejected the word 'Grave', because we needed a more mass compatible name in view of our new, more commercial style." Strangely enough, a song of Bulldozing Bastard suddenly comes to my mind: "Go F'**k Yourself". Anyway, don't ask me why, but I bought the album, probably in an act of misunderstood loyalty. (It's nothing new that Germans have sometimes a dangerous penchant for loyalty.) To demonstrate the dimension of the fiasco: the review section of the abovementioned Metal Hammer issue held reviews of "Beyond the Gates", "Under the Spell", "Game Over" and "Possessed by Fire". The album of the month was a vinyl called "Reign in Blood", maybe you have already heard about this work randomly. However, please don't make the fatal mistake to compare Digger's bloodless performance with one of these jewels, neither in terms of style, nor in terms of quality.

"Stronger than Ever" is the embarrassing attempt to get some radio airplay, no more, no less. The incredibly kitschy title track with its soft and almost unbearable chorus line leaves no doubt about the intention of the amputated (Grave) Digger. And, by the way, this track with its cheap bargain-melody sucks completely. The majority of the pieces shows a more powerful approach, but they are not immune against ridiculous sequences and the intrusive keyboards pour sugar over each and every track. Even a more or less good song like "Moonriders" with its very catchy yet spirited chorus constitutes a riddle. "It's a long way to hell / Moonriders" is the quintessence of its lyrics, but nobody knows why moonriders want to get to hell. Are moonriders hidden hellriders? I am confused. Generally speaking, the lyrics of ultra-lascivious songs such as "Wanna Get Close" want to bath in champagne. But due to an exceptional set of unfortunate circumstances, they are at risk to drown in the sea of banality. Just two examples: "Come on over baby, just look what I've got for you" or "Come on, come on, come on baby, come on, come on, don't be shy". To avoid misunderstandings, these excerpts are taken from different songs. The lamentable baby is omnipresent and the greasy lyrics of the album have to struggle in order to achieve the lowest tier of poetry.

Due to hardly explainable reasons, approximately half of the compositions is not so bad. "Stand Up and Rock" is a stomping tune at the interface between hard rock and heavy metal. It offers a really strong bridge and a vigorous chorus, only a short funky bass intermezzo irritates the listener. "Don't Leave Me Lonely" is slightly dramatic and provides a relatively dynamic chorus. Yet the album spreads the cheap aroma of a fake product. It smells like the Chinese plagiarism of a western perfume. (Hopefully, the communist party of China does not read this review. Dear political descendants of Mao Zedong, I didn't want to offend your glorious and highly innovative industry and I beg for forgiveness in view of the fact that the here presented counterfeit originates from my home country. Shame on me.) The disorientation of the band is echoed in the configuration of the closers of both sides. They are significantly harsher than the rest and seem to have the function of a metallic alibi for the upcoming darlings of the masses called Digger. Honestly, I guess that Boltendahl and his management thought that we (the metalheads) are absolutely blunt... By the way, both songs lack of substance and surprising ideas.

Production-wise it comes as no surprise that the sound avoids any form of coarseness. The mix is okay - and now come the crucial words - for this kind of music. Boltendahl sings as harmonious as possible, the guitars show no signs of aggression and everything is just there without developing even a modicum of individuality. Very simple keyboard lines add insult to injury. The saccharine "Listen to the Music" can tell you what I mean in this respect, but my advise is: don't listen to this music. Boltendahl said in the interview with the Metal Hammer that they were looking for a full-time keyboard player. Bad idea, wrong approach. It's obvious, "Stronger than Ever" was a commercial, musical and visual flop. Consequently, the band got lost in the mist of unclear business structures. Success is a kind of ritzy prostitute, it does not make love with every Tom, Dick and Harry. I know it, because I am an expert in all questions of failure. If you don't believe me, read my memoirs (to be released in 2038 or never).