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Grave Digger - Fields of Blood

Grave Digger
Fields of Blood
by Eric Poulin at 13 July 2020, 4:43 AM

GRAVE DIGGER is a Power Metal band based out Gladbeck, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany who have been around since 1980. This is their 20th full-length release entitled “Fields of Blood” which came out May 29th 2020, through Napalm Records. So this is a band I have never really paid attention in the realm of German metal, for a number of reasons, the main being my lack of interest in the vocal stylings of Chris Boltendahl, but I am also aware this latest endeavor has received high praise for a number of websites, so here goes.

The opening track is essentially a Scottish-inspired instrumental, filled with my favorite instrument ever, bagpipes. It transitions quickly into a very heavy number “All for the Kingdom” which is a good blend of power and thrash metal, and has a very memorable chorus, resembling what I have heard in ORDEN OGAN, especially in its pirate-themed choirs. The main vocals are actually not quite as raspy as I remembered them in some of their earlier material. It has a fair share of melodic solos as well.
Lions of the Sea” follows the trend of joyful singing in its early stages, that blends into some hard-rock style riffing that reminded me a lot of IRON SAVIOR on their very first album. Similar to the opening track, you have the epic chorus (what has made SABATON so popular over the years). The song has a simple structure but flows very well, and the chorus is by far the loudest part of the entire song.

The tempo quiets down a bit with “Freedom” in the first 20 seconds or so, with an IRON MAIDEN intro, that goes all guns blazing with rapid-fire guitars and double-bass drums. It does not lack in intensity, especially with the constant powerful drums. The easiest comparison to me is that sounds like when HELLOWEEN are at their most aggressive (go back and listen to “Push” on “Better Than Raw”). There are some spoken-words parts in here as well, its chorus is no as memorable as the previous songs, but where that part lacks, the rest of it remains quite powerful.

If you enjoy pounding drums, you should be happy with “The Heart of Scotland” which also brings back the bagpipes (always had a rough time with that instrument), but I also understand its purpose, considering the overall theme of the album. The main riff of the song is a slow and grindy low-tone, almost doomy part. If you remember a band called TAD MOROSE, when they released their first EP, this has a bit of that essence. Considering the overall tempo of the album at this point, this is a good change of pace.

The hard rocking VAN HALEN meets PAUL GILBERT meets MOTORHEADUnion of the Crown” is another quick one, that is about as relentless as it gets. It has a very clean chorus, again the high point and most memorable part of the track. The rest of the song sounds very gritty with a tinge of whacky solos.

One last standout for me is “Barbarian” which is a hard pounder that has that late 1980s, early 1990s edge to it. It’s a headbanging number that has some tempo slowdowns and just ooze the spirit of good old Lemmy Kilmeister, most likely why the song was possibly one of the more memorable songs here.

Overall, as much as I have never been a huge fan of this band, this album has all of the ingredients to make a power metal fan jump for joy. Quick riffing, double-bass drums in your face, very loud and joyful choruses should be a good start. To be fair, the vocal style fits the music, when it is not imbedded in choirs and where I used to find it a distraction, here it is a well-needed accessory to get the themes of war and battle across.

Songwriting:  7
Originality: 7
Memorability: 7
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

1.The Clansman's Journey
2. All for the Kingdom
3. Lions of the Sea
4. Freedom
5. The Heart of Scotland
6. Thousand Tears
7. Union of the Crown
8. My Final Fight
9. Gathering of the Clans
10. Barbarian
11. Fields of Blood
12. Requiem for the Fallen    
Chris Boltendahl - Vocals, Lyrics
Jens Becker - Bass
Axel "Ironfinger" Ritt - Guitars, Keyboards
Marcus Kniep - Drums, Keyboards
Record Label: Napalm Records


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