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Grave Digger - Liberty Or Death (CD)

Grave Digger
Liberty Or Death
by Grigoris Chronis at 03 January 2007, 3:50 PM

Here they are! Turning up to be one of the (now) oldest European Metal bands around, GRAVE DIGGER are again sharp to their 'meeting' with pure Metal music and Liberty Or Death (Greek metalheads will relate this motto to the Greek Revolution of 1821) sees the survivors of the 80s German Metal sound really willing to keep the scepters in creating pure guitar-driven frenzy. Do they succeed in so? Let's take a look inside…
If someone told me that GRAVE DIGGER would be still releasing albums anno 2006, I'd definitely buy him a couple of beerz on his optimism. Still, mercy is keen on steel and the quartet comes up with its 12th full length opus. A band that could not be described as innovative, with a set of musicians that - most of them throughout the band's history - would not be credited as 'virtuosos' and a leader/singer with a love-it-or-hate-it throat, seems non-stop in action since Liberty Or Death is its 8th in its thirteen years of the post-1993 renaissance.
You should remember: GRAVE DIGGER offered their historic Heavy Metal Breakdown opus back in 1984 and called it quits three years later - some will memorize their unlucky 'melodic' endeavor through 1987's Stronger Than Ever (under the 'DIGGER' moniker). The question is simple: who would imagine their 1993 The Reaper comeback to be the beginning of a second - and far more successful (sales-wise) - youth for this Gladbeck mob? The answer is history itself: the 'update' from a monolithic Heavy/Speed Metal vibe to a more sophisticated (concept-related) approach was the elixir; recall the fabulous 1996 Tunes Of War work. And - to my poor mind - this formula still gives oxygen to Chris Boltendahl and Co. despite the huge criticism towards their music/technique/ variety.
Letting aside the - apparently - weird decision for the Yesterday 'remake predecessor EP' release earlier this winter, the German metal squad unleashes its newest creation and both lovers and enemies of the band will feel the usual 'warmth' against GRAVE DIGGER. The album features the same - in general - spirit as their late 90s/early 00s works, giving a helping hand to those crying out for boredom (who has the balls to protest the same 'bout AC/DC, I wonder…). The fact is that there are one or two factors altering Liberty Or Death's status this time. One thing must be said bout the tempos, now seeing the diggers moving into a more mid-tempo direction; recall the band's pevious album The Last Supper and add more tracks to the list. Nothing bad to comment on, apart from the fact that Boltendahl's throat weights more on speed (check for e.g. Highland Tears) or the The Reaper's Dance 'teaser' that was included in the Yesterday EP and opened my appetite up wide.
The latter issue to be cleared out has to do with the instrumentalists and the production/mix. In particular, Manni Schmidt (ex-RAGE) is an excellent guitarist whose undoubted talent is not sufficiently unfolded in a 'solid' band like GRAVE DIGGER. Nope, no extensions should the band make to its songwriting; it's just that Manni can give something 'more' - apart from his wonderful leads - than what we hear in its presence since he joined in for the Excalibur album. In addition, the sound is something the band is 'obliged' to put a lot of work on, since the Liberty Of Death sounds a little bit 'foggy' and not as 'sharp' as someone would expect (maybe this factor has to do with the tempo 'thingie' mentioned above).
GRAVE DIGGER will not let you down; the world will stop turning if so. Even if not being the album that blew my speakers, Liberty Or Death sees a very good effort that surely stands one scale upper than The Last Supper. If already keen on the band, buy as fast as possible. Still, few are the chances Chris Boltendahl will welcome some new fans in 2007.

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
Liberty Or Death
Ocean Blood
Highland Tears
Terrible One
Until The Last King Died
March Of The Innocent
Silent Revolution
Shadowland
Forecourt To Hell
Massada
Lineup:
Chris Boltendahl - Vocals
Manni Schmidt - Guitars
Jens Becker - Bass
Stefan Arnold - Drums
H.P. Katzenburg - Keyboards
Record Label: Locomotive Music
     


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