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Shovel artists - 82%

Felix 1666, May 19th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2001, CD, Nuclear Blast (Digipak)

I do not know exactly why, but after the release of "Ballads of a Hangman", I decided to stop buying Grave Digger albums. Their "more of the same" dogma had lost its fascination. Moreover, I was and I am still convinced that they had already published their best work. I am speaking of "The Grave Digger", their first album in the 21st century.

First of all, the pretty opulent output boasts with its absolutely outstanding production. It does not lack pressure or density, every instrument is clearly defined and the same goes for the voice of uncle reaper Chris Boltendahl. Each and every band member shows his skills on his personal shovel and due to the experience of the dudes, they leave a very tight overall impression. Drummer Stephan Arnold works like a machine operator, the guitarists impress with really pervasive riffs. "Scythe of Time" relies on such a riff. It flattens the soil in a matter of seconds and develops an unholy mood. The slowly crawling "The House" marks another example for the good guitar work.

Of course, the band avoids any form of experiments and presents conventional song patterns in abundance, but it shows its full potential within the relatively narrow frame of traditional metal. My personal highlights cover more or less the entire spectrum. On the one hand, the band anthem and title track tramples both the living and the dead into their graves. Arnold's almost hyperactive bass drum motivates the other guys to perform a perfectly flowing up-tempo piece with a smooth yet powerful chorus. This deadly weapon shows the speedy side of the guys, while "Funeral Procession", another excellent song that comes directly from the graveyard, represents the typical Teutonic metal sound. Stomping and mid-paced, it rolls over the listener and both its scornful bridge and the intensive chorus hit the nail on the head.

Usually, the hit rate on a Grave Digger album does not exceed 60 or 70%, the sad rest consists of (sometimes terrible) fillers. Just think of their unbearable ballads during the first period of the band. Premature complacency has always been an obvious problem of the band, but "The Grave Digger" does not give new food to this accusation. This does not mean that the album is completely free from questionable details. Sometimes a stereotyped chorus shows up with quite stupid "fire / higher / desire" rhymes. But generally speaking, the band has forged tracks on an equal footing. It is also a matter of course that Boltendahl's voice delivers a love-it-or-hate-it element and the more it stands in the foreground, the more it has the possibility to ruin a track. But only the ballad (once again!) suffers significantly from his somewhat tantalized voice and this is, by the way, no big loss, because the pretty cheesy and overlong "Silence" is the only flop here.

The digipak ends with the pretty strong "Black Cat". Once again, the voluminous guitars create a sharp and powerful riff that carries the whole track. So I have no doubt that anybody who is interested in Grave Digger needs to know this album, because it combines the best sound with some of their best songs. Too bad that they never returned to their top form - and that they did not get the right moment to say good-bye.

He takes me under the deadly skies. - 85%

Diamhea, January 28th, 2014

Do they ever stop? The Grave Digger is yet another notch in the Reaper's bullet belt, initiating then-new axeman Manni Schmidt and pulverizing to dust any lingering doubts that the loss of Lulis would doom the band. Surfacing after a good, but not great effort in Excalibur, the pressure was on for Boltendahl's fresh lineup to deliver the goods.

They undoubtedly deliver. Schmidt proves he is an apt suitor to the legendary Lulis. While I personally prefer his monstrous performance on Rheingold above all else, this is definitely a close second. His riffs are astronomically massive, most evident on classics like "Spirits of the Dead" or the remarkable "Haunted Palace". The latter is misleadingly titled, as it coalesces into a chest-pounding, titanic number that features a main riff eerily reminiscent of "Giants" from Rheingold. My version of the album comes with the bonus track "Black Cat". Normally bonus tracks are phoned in but it actually ends up being one of the most memorable tracks here on The Grave Digger.

Regardless, the true gem here is without a doubt the title track. It advances at an efficient speed until the chorus, which detonates in operatic fashion as Boltendahl memorably roars "The Grave Diggah!". This style of chorus would later be adopted by the band in a more widespread fashion, which should speak volumes to the potency of this approach. Boltendahl's inflection sounds closest to Rhinegold, which I certainly don't have any problems with. He is the type of vocalist that would sound out of place in any band except for his own, as his gruff tone evokes an atmosphere of barely controlled chaos. Just like Overkill and Ellsworth's impish cackles; it just works. In another unique twist, he cleans up his approach on the closer "Silence", adding a mournful backdrop to an already terse-sounding track. Grave Digger usually has problems writing memorable openers and closers, but this is clearly the exception to the rule.

If there is one major gripe I have with The Grave Digger, it is that some of the atmospheric passages interrupt the flow of the album and don't really go anywhere. Katzenburg delivers an impressive, ambient performance during the intro of "Raven", but just like on Rheingold the keyboards come off as superficial. "The House" and "King Pest" also fail to inspire on a level on par with the other songs here. The Grave Digger is well-produced, but I still prefer both the buzzsaw tone from Heart of Darkness and the ultimate wall of distortion from Rheingold to this one. Becker also seems more buried here than usual, which is a bit of a shame as a thicker bass presence would have contributed potently to the dissonant melodies and atmosphere.

This just barely misses dethroning Rheingold as Grave Digger's best modern opus. The Grave Digger is supposedly dedicated to the memory of Edgar Allan Poe. I'm sure he would be pleased. Six feet under, I've found my paradise.

Rich In Both Atmosphere and Heaviness. - 95%

Metal_Jaw, December 5th, 2012

The year was 2001, just after the new millennium. Under new management (Nuclear Blast), Grave Digger exploded into the new millennium with all barrels firing. Armed to the teeth with a new guitarist, a heavier music tone, and a return the their older, darker themes, Grave Digger unleashed upon unready mortal masses their ninth studio album: "The Grave Digger". It is one of the best heavy metal albums of the past decade, simply put.

Armed in a rich production that perfectly balances the heaviness with a tense, dark atmosphere, all the members let their talents run wild on "The Grave Digger". Chris Boltendahl utilizes his rough, distinctly German growling and howling into both his usual aggression as well as a more toned-down version to go well with the album's feel. Replacing the talented Uwe Lulis is the equally talented Manni Schmidt. His guitar work is stupendous, and while his solo stuff doesn't do quite as much for me as Lulis's did, I find his overall riff-making is at least a few notches up and then some. Continuing on board is former Running Wild bassist Jens Becker; his bass isn't 100% noticeable, often buried by the drums and guitar, but the thickness adds well to the songs and the guy gets more than a fair share of moments to show off his solid skills. Longtime drummer Stefan Arnold is quite a treat, his skin-thumping hard, precise, and often pretty vicious; annoyingly his kick-drumming, which may or may not be fake/processed, is amplified in the mix, which gets on my nerves a bit because I find it to be a lazy and cheap way to make a song sound faster or more aggressive and in the process, less natural. Rounding out the group is Mr. HP Katzenberg on the keyboards, his work solidly and melodically weaving in out and through a number of songs, adding further to the atmosphere and quality.

The 12 songs on "The Grave Digger" (including bonus track "Black Cat") are all pretty much heavy metal perfection. Nothing is warrants skipping, all warrant a thousand listens. The album starts unassumingly with "Son of Evil", with its piano intro before exploding into the album's formula of perfection: big riffs, bigger choruses and scorching solos. Then the title track explodes forth with skull-splitting speed riffs and a punchy, catchy chorus. We mustn't forget the mid-paced crushers as well. "Scythe of Time" is one of the best, pounding along with another nifty chorus and a speedier, scorching solo. The incredible "The House" kills with its immense, memorable main riff and another grand solo, this one more mood-based and bass-driven. I even like the ballad "Silence"; it's a bit slow and simple yeah, but it strikes me and beautiful and emotional all the same, perfectly exemplifying the albums' overall sense of atmosphere. Going back to the speed metal tunes, we have two highlights: "Raven" and "Spirits of the Dead". "Raven" has one of the best choruses of any metal song EVER! EVVVVVEEERRRRR!!! Obey and worship the chorus of "Raven"! "Look into the eye of this evil toy, fly with the raven. Seek and destroy!" "Spirits of the Dead" pumps along with a heavy as fuck main riff, as well as its own fantastic and memorable chorus.

Overall, this Edgar Allen Poe-inspired album is as much a masterpiece as any of his own works. The atmosphere is wondrously evil and memorable, the band's work is impeccable, and each and every song is incredible, all with their own merits. Spirits of the dead are calling...they want you to get a hold of "The Grave Digger" now!

A great overall impression - 86%

kluseba, July 15th, 2011

After three good conceptual albums about medieval legacies, Grave Digger broke free from their boundaries with a new line-up and concept. On this eponymous record, the band starts in a fresh and new way into a new millennium and created a loosely bound conceptual album about horror topics that are mostly influenced by the novels of the legendary American writer Edgar Allan Poe. The new album sounds fresh and is a welcome and needed change of style just in the right moment.

Now to adequately represent this kind of topic in an appropriate musical way would need much more than just generic heavy or speed metal music but rather request a bleaker atmosphere. I am aware that the best bands for that kind of topic would be "The Vision Bleak" and similar artists but Grave Digger already proved us in the last years that they are open to vary and also able to create profound and mysterious moments within their discography as heard on "Heart of darkness". They ultimately also succeed to create such an atmosphere on this album without forgetting about their heavier roots. The opener "Son of evil" with its haunting and eerie piano melodies is already a great beginning and blows the doubts away. The risen expectations are fulfilled with further tracks like the dark and heavy "Raven", the creepy "Scythe of time" with its great bass lines and diversified vocal performances, the slow and epic "The house" and the great haunting ballad "Silence" that closes this album in an epic and surprising way. I would have hoped for even more epic and atmospheric songs of that kind but the band is not as consequent and courageous as I hoped.

A part of that, the band varies as usual from mid tempo hymns such as "Funeral procession" to fast paced tracks like "Spirits of the dead" that can be found on any of the band's records and would be great live tracks as well. Those songs work very well and won't disappoint any fan of the band but there are maybe two or three songs on the record that didn't need to be included on here and stretch the whole thing a little bit too much at some points. "King Pest" is the kind of song that we all heard multiple times from Grave Digger and didn't need to hear it once more in here. But after all, the band has done worse on other records.

Nevertheless, the end result still seems to be a very good mixture of the band's strengths and old school roots and the epic and bleak transformations they employed for this record. The darker tone of this album makes this mixture sound very coherent. The final result convinces as a whole structure and not only as a bunch of single entities. The songs itself are even less memorable and impressing as in the past or the future but the conceptual line and overall impression is particularly outstanding on this well received eponymous record that merits its courageous title. The album is particular but unites yet everything "Grave Digger" stood and still stand for. That's where this offering merits a very special place in the band's long discography and can be listed as one of their highlights after all as this record will surely grow on you.

Follow your obsession - 95%

autothrall, January 12th, 2010

The Grave Digger is a lot of things for German power veterans Grave Digger. For one, it’s the very best of the band’s concept albums, easily trumping Tunes of War or anything else the band has offered since. The Edgar Allen Poe concept was a great idea to run with, and the dark and heavy edge to the tunes does it a service. Naturally, one would associate the writings of Poe with a gothic metal style, or perhaps black metal, but Christ Boltendahl succeed in living up to the theme.

The Grave Digger is also the band’s very best, track for track effort. Each and every track fucking rages, and though a number stand out from even this worthy company, you can count on this album whenever you want to bang your head and fist (don’t do it together!) The album has the same dark edge that made The Reaper so great, and this album goes one better, with a more consistent set of songs. The brooding “Son of Evil” creates a creepy, slow buildup for the rocking namesake of both the band and album. “Raven” delivers a stormy telling of the tale, and “Scythe of Time” is a big power metal with a riff that’ll have Accept and Primal Fear fans howling. But, as good as this first crop of songs is, none of them compare to what follows, the amazing dark anthem “Spirits of the Dead”.

'Soulless creatures, bloodless shadows
Isolation all around
Spirits of the dead are calling
The unholy side by side
Bloody hope to mortals given
Spirits of the dead crawling through the night'

The song had my jaw on the floor and my tongue wagging with blind, undying, newfound loyalty to these German maniacs, with riffing to die for and a catchy chorus that conjured both metal pride and tears. But let me warn you in advance…there is a BETTER SONG yet to come! But first, one must ‘suffer’ through the epic “The House”, the ball busting “King Pest”, and the churning grooves of “Sacred Fire”, to arrive at the badass “Funeral Procession”, with pretty much the best Grave Digger riff in history, and a chorus that truly beckons the dead from the earth!

And the album STILL isn’t over. “Haunted Palace” is an atmospheric speed metal anthem with some a nice, twisting verse riff. “Silence” is a big power ballad, but probably the weakest track on the album, especially when followed by the bonus “Black Cat”, which rocks.

Manni Schmidt’s playing is impeccable on this record, and Jens Becker holds it down with some great, grooving bass. The album sounds enormous, clunky and morbid, like a graveyard full of drunk 80s heshers surrounding a live band on the back of a pickup truck. I would probably pay Grave Digger a few hundred dollars to see them live in such a situation, and you should probably pay whatever you must to acquire this album.

Highlights: The Grave Digger, Spirits of the Dead, Funeral Possession, Haunted Palace, Black Cat


The motherfuckin' grave digger - 100%

The_Ghoul, August 3rd, 2008

This is Grave Digger's best. Nestled nicely in between 2 classics (Rheingold and Excalibur) this one easily tops both. As most of you well know, this abandons the middle ages lyrics and adopts horror/Edgar Allen Poe lyrics. And this change is reflected in the new guitarist, Manne Schmidt, and the much darker nature of the music.

This is, at the heart, operatic heavy metal. There are 2 kinds of song here, and they are good songs and fucking awesome songs. In fact, all but 2 of the songs are fucking awesome. And a few songs are so fucking great that I've listened to them at least 50 times in the last week and they don't get old. They are Raven, Spirits of the Dead, and The House. Make no mistake, the whole album is great. But those are especially great.

I love the theatrics on this album. They're very morbid, very dramatic, and just scream horror movie all over them. It's like listening to a morbid heavy metal opera. Chris Boltendahl is at his peak here, belting out scream after scream, while his clean voice approaches the realm of legend on songs like The House and Silence. While many prefer Uwe Lullis' guitar solos to Manne's, I prefer Manne's. They may not be as fast as Uwe, but they are exquisitely phrased. They help the song along, instead of simply being wankery. The tone is really heavy (akin to Karl Logan's (Manowar) tone on Warriors of the World) and crushes your ears, but you can't stop listening because the music is so fucking great. In fact, the whole production is very similar to Warriors of the World. Only this is a much better album than Warriors of the World. As I've said before, every since they reformed, Grave Digger have been doing what Manowar should've been doing in the 90's and 00's and here that statement is especially true.

However, I discuss The Grave Digger without mentioning H.P. Katzenberg. The keyboards here are great, creating a sound drenched in gloomy atmosphere, but respecting the guitar's hallowed place in the world of metal. Without his keyboards, this album wouldn't conjure up images of haunted mansions during a rainy night filled with thunder and lightening. It would just be your run-of-the-mill awesome heavy metal. However, with the keyboards, it transcends heavy metal and becomes legendary. If there was any doubt that Grave Digger are legends, it was erased with The Grave Digger.

The Grave Digger has yet to leave my CD player after having it for a week and a half, and if my instincts are any guide, won't leave it anytime soon. It's truly a classic, a great addendum to the middle ages trilogy, even eclipsing it. While Rheingold is kickass speed metal, this is truly superior heavy metal. If you like ANYTHING within the realm of power metal, speed metal, heavy metal, etc... Hell, if you like metal at all, you should check this out. I guarantee that even if your music tastes differ from mine, you will still find several songs that you will love. I cannot put into words how awesome this is and how awe inspiring the atmosphere is.

The Son Of The Digger - 85%

MuffinMan, June 25th, 2008

First of all I would like to remark one thing that made this album so special to me. The fact that when I took out the album to play it in my car I noticed the words written beneath it: In Memory Of Edgar Allan Poe. Then I knew it, it was going to be an album with many themes that this dead poet wrote once upon a time. Edgar Allan Poe's poems might not be metal enough for metalheads tasted, but Grave Digger took them and transformed them into metal!

The album opener is "Son Of Evil" which is a great track to start with. A keyboard introduction kicks in soon followed by mid-paced riffs until Chris Boltendahl starts singing. I have to say that I really love his voice. The more I try to come up with another singer to perform in this album, no one comes to mind except for Chris, he is the reason why I listened to Grave Digger the first time. He is the opposite to most power metal singers that nowadays sound the same.

Next we have "The Grave Digger", one of my favorite tracks of the album. The chorus is so damn catchy I just love it! The bridge before it, the riffs are incredible, and the lyrics fit the music perfectly. Quite a powerful song with a great guitar solo and great riffs. What I love about this album are the choruses. There is so much power in so many of them that I can't get them out of my head. For example, "Spirits Of The Death" and "Funeral Procession" has some excellent choruses that are really catchy, plus some excellent and aggressive guitar melodies accompanied by some headbanging riffs.

The weakest track in the album is by far “King Pest”. It is just a filler, plain and simple. It just sound so uninspired comparing it with most of the other tracks, it isn’t catchy and it isn’t memorable in anyway. There is lack of good song structure and it is definitely a skipper when listening to the album more than once.

The ballad "Silence" is plain awesome. Great guitar work, clean vocals and in the middle of the track, BAM! It comes some nice riffing and goodbye clean vocals. However, it doesn’t last very long before clean vocals hit again, but accompanying the guitar riffs, which are top-notch. It is a great ballad, with only one downside: it is repetitive as hell. The lyrics repeat themselves more than twice along the whole track, yet I will have to bear it, because it is really worth listening to the whole ballad. It isn’t boring, and it is really enjoyable spite the repetitive lyrics, the guitar work is excellent during the riffs and melodic part.

What I did not like about the whole album is that most of the songs end with an annoying fade out. I don’t know why, but I rather listen to a proper song ending, than just the chorus repeating itself while the volume starts decreasing to end the song. Why not giving each song a proper ending? Instead of just listening to the chorus fading away in the darkness of the night. This just seem lazy.

The production is really good. It is not overproduced and the album definitely sounds great regarding music quality. Except of course the point I made a few lines above about the annoying fades that each song has, but it may not bother everybody, and it is not a reason to ditch the album.

Overall it is a really good piece of music. You will get hooked right away with spooky lyrics, great guitar work, excellent drumming and nice keyboard intros.
Those intros make an excellent job creating atmospheres in the tracks, it gives you the feeling of a darker and creepier mood, which fits the music.

Give it a try, and I’m sure you aren’t going to regret it.

Step into the fire, you bloody liar ! - 94%

Nightrunner, October 18th, 2006

With this album Grave Digger got back to the dark lyrical themes that they had introduced with 1995’s “Heart Of Darkness”. A album that was great the whole way through, with no weak track. It’s almost the same thing with “The Grave Digger”, except that it has two weak tracks, but still, this is the second best album Grave Digger has released. And this makes me reflect over it, and it seems that dark themes is what makes the best for Grave Digger. Of course, it’s not just the darker lyrics that makes it the second best GD-album, it’s the whole thing. The music is dark and really heavy, Chris Boltendahl & the band does superb performances on the album.

New to this album was guitarplayer Manni Schmidt, he had big shoes to fill in after the riff genius Uwe Lulis quit the band. But no worries, Manni is a great guitar player and is at least as good to come up with great riffs as Uwe was, this album is a good example. The riffs is as it always has been with Grave Digger, true heavy metal riffs. Manni does a great job here both in all rhythm and lead parts and have found a cool and heavy guitar sound. In the production as a whole, it’s the same thing, absolutely nothing to complain about, and is maybe among the best production on any Grave Digger album so far. Thick and heavy.

Over to the songs, as I said there’s only two weak songs on the album, but firstly we take the great ones. Among my absolute faves lies the title track “The Grave Digger” with it’s moderately fast tempo, heavy verses and awesome pre-chorus/chorus. “Raven” with it’s cool funeral-like and mystic intro, which leads into thunderous verses and a nice chorus. Another memorable one is “Spirits Of The Dead”, another moderately fast one with a fucking great pre-chorus which goes in a really fast tempo which leads into a melodic chorus. The heavy stomper “The House” with it’s really heavy riff and really cool and mystical chorus. The main riff and verses can be compared to “The Round Table (forever)” from the Excalibur-album. Sadly though, “The House” get a bit slow towards the mid / end when the acoustic parts enters. “Sacred Fire” too, get along in a heavy mid-tempo crushing riff and has a really melodic and cool chorus, the solo is absolutely worth mentioning too. The fourth song “Scythe Of Time”, is a heavy one with a really doomy feel over it. Bass driven verses which leads into the really heavy chorus. Those not mentioned now, (“Son of Evil”, Funeral Procession” and “Haunted Palace”) is not mentioned separately because these three goes in a similar tempo. All are heavy and in mid-tempo, and “Son Of Evil” also have a really great intro, and a perfect song to open the album with.

And then over to the two weak ones. The worst of all is the ballad “Silence”, it just is like this, Grave Digger should not do ballads, it should be metal the whole way through, the songs though has a nice pre-chorus. The second weak one is the somewhat tedious song “King Pest”, which has a cool riff going through, but the song is going in circles and has a really boring chorus.

So, a album full of horror, heavy songs and in overall a great atmosphere over it. The cool sound effects and keyboards by HP. Katzenburg worth mentioning, they are really awesome, and are used the way it should be. To create a cool atmosphere instead of taking over too much. Also the album cover by Markus Mayer (the “normal”-cover version, not the black digipack version) is really great. And it is with albums that this that Grave Digger shows that they are one of the best heavy metal bands.

Grave Digger - Dragonic's Review - 93%

DragonicDeath, March 21st, 2004

Grave Digger is a very creative heavy metal band. Many times, actually, most of the time - power metal bands become very cliched, and it tends to get very old. Not Grave Digger, they like to keep things alive. Or dead, I should say. They like to keep things dead. Everything from the chunky, harmonics-infested guitars, to the vocals that sound as if someone had drank a cup of acid, everything sounds great, heavy, chaotic - and original. Not many power metal bands can do that.

'Grave Digger', the album - is no exception. This is about as good as power metal gets in my eyes. Everything from the lyrics, to the production, to the vocals. You can really tell that Grave Digger is a band that cares about every little detail, because there is no filler material - nor are there any weak points in songs. Everything is so heavy, edgy and atmospheric that you are never bored.

The guitars are very heavy. The harmonics-infested leads and bridges are excellent. Manni Shmidt is a well-rounded player, and it shows on this album. He can play heavy, chunk-laden speed metal, shredding down the fretboard like lightening - or, he can play slow, technically-devised, palm-chunk metal and completley blows your stereo. The first song, 'Son of Evil' - displays his diversity very well. It starts of semi-fast, then into a shred-fest, then into a slower section, then rip-roaring fast the next. The song I think best display's Manni's talents has to be 'The Grave Digger', becuase it simply own's.
Stefan Arnold, the drummer - is superb here. He can play a steady beat at a consistant rate, then to supersonic speed flawlessly (King Pest), or he can play technical drum patterns (Sacred Fire). Excellent double-bass work, I must say as well. And he does NOT over-do it, like so many double-bass drummers do.
Chris Boltendahl, vocals, as I mentioned before - is an extremely creative and unique power metal singer. A bit lower, and bit more 'sludge' - and he would sound more Death metal than anything. He sounds like he is foaming at the mouth, chasing a helpless victim through a wood with a viking axe. If that makes sense. Always does a great job though.
Not much to say about Jans Becker. He is a very, very good bass player. Since the production (I will get to that later) is so good - you can hear him clearly in the mix. Good bass. Enough to destroy your sub-woofer! (I should know...because he did.)
The keyboarding here is good for a metal band. Usually, either a metal band has a good keyboarder and abuses him, and just drowns their songs in keyboard, or they have a completley worthless player, who always trys to show off. Grave Diggers keyboardist, Vans Peter Katzenburg - is an exception. He is very good at setting a mood.

The production is very good and clean. Everything can be heard equally well, leaving no one out. Very good production, which is good because this album is so good.

The packaging is great. Excellent cover art, all the essentials in the booklet - Pics, Lyrics, Production Notes and all.

Overall, this is an extremely well-done album, beautifully crafted, chaotically heavy, and just pretty much thee power metal album. I would reccomend this to anyone who likes chunk, power, speed, or just a metalhead who respects himself. It is a very good metal album, well rounded to please fans of all genres as well.

Get this right now. Go - get moving.

Mysteriously Shimmering Through the Grave - 90%

Demon_of_the_Fall, October 30th, 2003

I don't consider myself being a huge Grave Digger but i simply adore Excalibur and this release. I want to get into them alot more and this album is the perfect fix, and mix from their old material and newer material. Chris Boltendahl's vocals which almost sound like a grizzly bear trying to talk, are some of the most unique power metal vocals one can stumble apon. The music is very creative, and the guitar playing really stands out as one of the strong points on this release, due to the riffs and solos being quite catchy and tremendous. These songs take you on a ride down horror lane with zombies, and brutal creatures that would love to spill every last drop of your blood. These guys really have an amazing atmousphere and the lyrics are really fucking cool. The storylines of all of them rock and almost remind me of alot of the 80's Dead movies (Dawn of the Dead, Night, Day etc) that George A Romero directed. That in and of itself is fucking cool, because these guys have that triumphant war like anthem vibe to them, but they're much more that that. These guys are Speed Metal at times and really up the ante with some killer drumming, bass slapping, and Judas Priest's Painkiller era riffs. The production is flawless and is some of the best i've ever heard. The music is really feel good stuff that makes you stand up for yourself and feel better about who you are. This cd is definatly a grower and i'm sure all of you who give it the chance would love this Gem that Grave Digger has created. Im going to check out Tunes of War and Heart of Darkness next seeing as both are acclaimed as their next best 90's albums. Heavy Metal Breakdown is also supposed to be their classic but you might find it hard to find. The Grave Digger practically makes me feel like in the dark ages because of the themes they create. Basically to sum this review up, if you like horror movies, unique power metal with some nice twists in the road that lead you right back into the Grave you'll love this motherfucker. Its bound to take you on a wild journey onto the battlefield with plenty of blood on board. Sorry for the cheese, but these guys are really good at what they do and i just want to get that point across. Cheers you guys. Fucking keep up the good work.

Best Tracks: Son of Evil, The Grave Digger, Raven, Scythe Of Time, Spirits Of The Dead, Sacred Fire, Funeral Procession, Silence

A return to the darker themes. - 84%

Nightcrawler, May 13th, 2003

The Grave Digger contains two major changes for the band. Most importnant, the new guitarist Manni Schmidt. His ascendance to the band doesn't really make the sound very different, as it's still Grave Digger. But he is not quite as brutally fast and heavy in his playing like Uwe Lulis was, at least not on this one. But we shall see if that has changed on Rheingold.
Generally, I definitely prefer Uwe both on the riffing and soloing department, but Manni does a good job replacing him.
The second major change was the lyrical themes. Their three previous albums were part of the so-called Middle Ages Trilogy, dealing with medieval themes, the latest being an epic fantasy tale about the legendary sword Excalibur.
Now, they move back towards the darker and more evil lyrical themes that were present on 1995's Heart of Darkness. Although Heart of Darkness dealt more with real life subjects like war, and this one seems more fantasy-based.
This change of lyrical direction also makes a change in the musical direction, in that none of the medieval instruments that were present on the Middle Ages Trilogy albums can be found on The Grave Digger. There are also lots and lots of keyboards present on this album, to add to the feeling of horror they manage to create in several tracks on here, which is done very well and effectively.
The choruses are also slightly different for the most part, in that they're not as singalong based as on the previous albums. This is in my opinion a bad thing, as the singalong choruses that were abound everywhere were one of the elements making Grave Digger what they were.
Still, there are many choruses with the classic Grave Digger feeling on here. A few examples are Raven, Son of Evil and of course the insane title track.
Otherwise, it sounds pretty much the same. Chris Boltendahl's outstanding raw, gruff voice mixed with the occasional clean vocals are amazing as always, there are pounding double basses abound, while the actual bass for the most part gets buried in the mix.

For the most part, this album is really solid, but it's a bit has a few minor downsides.
But, let's begin with the highlights: There are three total classic Grave Digger tunes found on here. The opening track Son of Evil, with it's haunting intro, punishing above midpaced riffage and one of the most awesome choruses ever written. Then of course the title track, with more monstrous above midpaced riffing, another insanely catchy chorus and an overall truly sinister atmosphere. Haunted Palace is awesome as well. It stays at about the same pace as the two above mentioned, but the atmosphere in all three is consistently sinister yet completely different. And this one contains yet another totally overwhelming chorus.
And finally, Spirits of the Dead. Now this is fucking speed metal. Fast riffwork that completely forces you to headbang, and a totally cool and memorable chorus, plus an asskicking solo. The best song on the album.
Some more highlights would be the evil Funeral Procession and King Pest, and the atmospheric Raven. The obligatory ballad The Silence as well is quite alright.
Also, The House is also pretty fucking good. It begins with a frightening set of melodies, and the first appearance of Chris' mesmerizing clean vocals on this album. After the first, slow vers, the main riff kicks in along with a chiming bell and a haunting backing choir. It then goes into a devastating but frightening midpaced vers, where Chris returns to his gruff voice. The melodic chorus is also excellent, where Chris once again displays his clean voice.
The scary lyrics along with the mesmerizing atmosphere and interesting song construction make this the most interesting song on here, and definitely another one of the highlights.

Those were the highlights. The last two songs may have one or two good moments, but are generally pretty boring. Those being Scythe of Time (the groovy main riff and the guitar solo is excellent, but vocally it's boring as fuck), and Sacred Fire, which despite a great melodic chorus kinda falls short.

The bonus track on the digipak, Black Cat (based on the Edgar Allen Poe novel with the same title) is pretty catchy too, but nothing to rave about.
All in all, this is definitely worthy of your time and money. The low points can easily be overlooked in favour of the incredible highs.
"The grave is open, the digger smiles..."

heavy power metal - 71%

ironasinmaiden, December 25th, 2002

I must admit I am not too keen on Grave Digger.... this in fact the only full album I've heard from them, although they've been around for ever. And as far as power metal goes, these guys fall on the aggressive side of the margin.

The first thing that stands out about Grave Digger is the vocals.... I laughed out loud several times, cos this dude sounds like Oscar the Grouch meets Fozzy Bear and it ain't pretty. I guess it's better than some mullet headed italian douchebag dropping falsetto all over the place, but this guy is pretty over the top.

The guitars have a heavy tone (especially Funeral Procession) that add a little bite to their sound, never a bad thing. Of course there are those lame keyboards everywhere, but the guitars and drums are way ahead in the mix. The speed metal oriented tracks like Spirits of the Dead and Son of Evil stand out the most, and have some pretty damn good leads (what else would you expect from this genre). The goofy chants and majestic choruses that plague other PM bands are there, but less prolific.

When it all comes down to it Grave Digger is a heavy metal band with power metal tendencies, and if you dig 80s metal at all you should find some good in it. But don't tell me I didn't warn you about the vocals....