My first introduction to these German heavy weights was last year's excellent "The Grave Digger"-album. Thunderous Power Metal with riffing of the highest quality quickly got me ensconced in the GD-way. Vocally a new fan might be put off as Chris Boltendahl has a style that is best suited to Black or Death Metal. But if you can put up with his hoarse howling then be prepared to witness some excellent European Heavy fuckin' Metal.
So it was with much anticipation that I put this live offering, recorded at Wacken last year, in the CD tray.
Being Scottish I was both shocked and amused that a German Metal-band where using such an un-Metal instrument to start their show. Further investigation revealed that the "Tunes Of War"-album is about Scottish freedom etc so I was instantly hooked.
Blasting straight from the piped intro is the excellent "Scotland United", GRAVE DIGGER are into their stride from the off. What about Manni Schmidt's guitar sound? Solid, brutal. Totally Heavy Metal. Awesome opening riff. But it doesn't let up, "The Dark Of The Sun" just keeps up the pace with another pounding, brooding guitar-riff a la EIDOLON. Boltendahl's vocals are perfectly suited. Moving from guttural roar to almost Power Metal-elegance! He strains, groans and grunts, but backed up with such a tight unit GRAVE DIGGER have backed a winning horse here. "The Reaper" just belts along. Powerful and melodic with an underlying intensity that is irresistible.
"The Round Table" slows things down a bit, still damn heavy though, but the crowd are obviously enjoying themselves, as their roars of appreciation are clearly audible. Fuck! The riff to "Excalibur" is a killer. "Circle Of Witches" is yet another classic Heavy Metal-riff that leads down to a quiet spell before the band battles back into the chorus.
You get the feeling that I liked this? If you are looking for straight forward, bare to the knuckle Power Metal played by a band that have been plying their trade for many years, then GRAVE DIGGER will not disappoint. This is getting far more listening time than "Rock In Rio" - try it.