So here’s GRAVE DIGGER’s take on the Crusades and the second part of their Medieval Trilogy. If you’ve heard anything they’ve released post-DIGGER days, you have a pretty good idea what this sounds like. I like to say they meet where Heavy/Power/Speed Metal, since they meet at the nexus of the two-and-a-half genres I just mentioned (my position on “Speed Metal” is for another time). The band had been together, off and on, for eighteen years when this came out, so they’ve got a formula going for them.
And that’s what you’ll get on most of “Knights Of The Cross.” Formula. You really can’t help but feel that almost everything GRAVE DIGGER brings to the table here you’ve heard before. The song structures sync up pretty well with earlier and later releases. If you’re a GRAVE DIGGER fan, this should please you. If not, it probably won’t win you over.
There are a few songs that stick out. “Fanatic Assassins” is probably the single most unique of all the songs on “Knights Of The Cross,” but you don’t notice that in passim. It’s also not really that strong of a song and has vocalist Chris Boltendahl perform some parts his gravely delivery just isn’t meant for. Good marks for the effort, but the execution suffers. The best song on the album is “The Battle Of Bannockburn,” but from a thematic standpoint that should have been on the last album, “Tunes Of War.” “Lionheart,” while formulaic, is done with enough passion and vigour to be enjoyable, while “Baphomet” is also a good song.
Most everything else is ultimately forgettable because it runs together so. The songs just aren’t anything special. Let’s not even touch the overly simplistic, idealist historical view. As I said before, fans and collectors can check this out, but anyone who should buy this probably won’t change their views based on this review.
The DigiPak and Japanese imports also contain covers of “Children Of The Damned” (SABBATH) and “Kill The King” (RAINBOW), respectively. (Online March 4, 2006)