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Grave Digger - Witch Hunter (Reissue)

Grave Digger
Witch Hunter (Reissue)
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 24 April 2018, 9:31 PM

“Witch Hunter”, because it sounded just about right. It didn’t take long for the German crew, which soon after remained as a trio, to come forth with a sophomore album. Similar to various other bands worldwide, and somewhat due to label pressure, as the momentum had to be savored, the second effort was already rattled up in its cage waiting to be unleashed for everyone to inhale. As mentioned, “Witch Hunter” was the decided title, and it proved that GRAVE DIGGER were well on their way to become a prominent name in their local Metal scene, and soon to conquer more influence and fans in Europe. After slipping in a reissue of the debut, “Heavy Metal Breakdown”, the subsequent offering also received its grand representation to nowadays universe of Metal music, determined to lift its head and show that it survived the test of time.

The album can be regarded as a step forward for the GRAVE DIGGER clan, surprisingly of how fast it was dished to the public. The trio was able to manifest material that further placed the band under the slowly emerging criteria of Speed Metal, inspired mainly by the hooks of MOTORHEAD. Nonetheless, it is quite evident that their existing melodic approach still relied on the British Metal exports, in particular of IRON MAIDEN. Guitarist Peter Masson, which received a center of attention in this reissue’s related interview with Malcolm Dome, laid in a discharge of memorable riffery, attributing to the powerful force of GRAVE DIGGER’s rhythm guitar legacy, which became quite a totem in the years to come. In comparison to the debut, Masson ignited the Metal flame with stellar soloing, which emphasized his importance and contribution to the level of songwriting on “Witch Hunter” and of course to the GRAVE DIGGER influential heritage. Scrolling further through Masson’s interview cuts, you may notice some interesting facts from the studio surrounding the album’s progress, which I am positive that weren’t common knowledge, even in the early days.

The overall quality of the songwriting on “Witch Hunter” may as well surpassed its predecessor, especially of the band’s ability to create aggressive hits, which may not be melodic but highly inspiring in their vigor. In an interview with Harris Johns, the band’s early producer, who worked closely with Noise Records, also included in the booklet, provided substantial evidence of how the lyrics, and singing, on the album were upgraded, with an outside help. I will leave that to you to check out. Surging into the notable tracklist busters, “Night Drifter”, sounded to me like the continuous journey of the Lycan Witch Hunter, unwillingly prowling its victims at night within a deliverance of a thundering Speed Metal offensive. The album’s title bearer, “Witch Hunter”, displays a rightful intro to a classic 80s Metal leathery fist, a crushing MOTORHEAD driven tune that by far is a moshpit made material. Just wait patiently for the solo section that is almost VAN HALEN in its influence. Paying tribute to the Wild West of the 19th century, “Here I Stand” commemorates the duel, the last stand right before all guns blazing. Attributed by a killer riff that energized the entire shebang, GRAVE DIGGER undoubtedly displayed one of their greatest achievements. Other favorites came in the sounds and echoes of “Friends of Mine”, early “Yesterday”’s successor, the dripping balladry of “Love Is A Game” and the strapping “Get Away”.

As part of the rare collectables bestowed within the reissue, Noise Records added three tunes that made the album justice. “Don’t Kill The Children”, as probably one of the album’s B-sides, oh well, must have been the only one, is a definitive Power Metal cruncher with various of US Metal elements. Interesting it was to listen to its chorus riff as it possibly infected the mind of HELLOWEEN’s Kai Hansen when he composed the main riff of “I Want Out”. The last two tracks remaining are from a second compilation that was released from the house of Noise Records, under the name of “Metal Attack Vol. 1”. Two notable songs that were quite solid, especially the likes of “Tears Of Blood”, which was awfully too short.

Sound wise, there was quite an improvement on “Witch Hunter”, in contrast to “Heavy Metal Breakdown”. Producer Harris Johns mentioned, in his interview with Malcolm Dome, how the sound of the band was perfected, working on each of the songs in particular in order to come up with a better result. There were some hints and voices that mentioned BON JOVI in regards to the matter in the studio, but I will let you guys check out the entire interview to see why the hell the old AOR band was even mentioned in such a ferocious Metal album review.

“Witch Hunter” played an important part in GRAVE DIGGER’s evolution, gathering up speed in their tunes while still maintaining the mid tempos for bursts of heavy assaults. A little bit above, in rate, of the debut, upgrading the band’s stance, it was a top notch welcoming for the approaching “War Games” a year later.

Purchase Link: Noise Records

4 Star Rating

1. Witch Hunter
2. Night Drifter
3. Get Ready For Power
4. Love Is A Game
5. Get Away
6. Fight For Freedom
7. School’s Out (Alice Cooper Cover)
8. Friends of Mine
9. Here I Stand
10. Don’t Kill The Children
11. Tears Of Blood
12. Shine On
Chris Boltendahl - Vocals / Bass
Peter Masson - Guitars
Albert Eckardt – Drums
René "T. Bone" Teichgräber - Bass (Guest)
Record Label: Noise Records


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