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Grave Digger - The Clans Will Rise Again

Grave Digger
The Clans Will Rise Again
by Grigoris Chronis at 28 September 2010, 7:09 PM

“Hold your flags up high - Hammer of the Scots…”

GRAVE DIGGER’s name is already written in gold in the book of Heavy Metal. Be it the German Metal band’s presence for more than 25 years, enough classic Metal hymns they’ve contributed to the majesty of our music or the non-stop quality of their honest metallic releases, it’s no news the world of heavy Power Metal owes a lot to the clan surrounding the fine figure of Chris Boltendahl. If we had to pick up some ‘key’ moments in GRAVE DIGGER’s career these could easily be year 1984 when the influential “Heavy Metal Brekadown” debut broke loose, the period in between 1993 and 1996 with three excellent releases (“The Reaper”, “Heart Of Darkness”, “Tunes Of War”) placing these Metal lucifers back in the map for good and 2001 when guitar wizard Manni Schmidt joined forces technically pushing the band to a higher level. Well, “The Clans Will Rise Again” smells like it’s gonna turn out to be another moment of musical clarity for one of the godfathers of real Heavy/Speed Metal made in Germany and central Europe in general. And there are at least two good reasons for such an assumption.

The first cause has to do with the “Tunes Of War” sequel concept. I do not know if the 1996 LP is on top of the band’s most sought records but it surely played its role in letting GRAVE DIGGER ring much more door bells gaining commercial recognition in a whole new era of Metal fans. With “Rebellion (The Clans Are Marching)” becoming a major Heavy Metal hit – it still is, if you ask me - Chris Boltendahl safeguarded kudos for the next years to come, let alone the fact this specific album tugged sensitive heartstrings with its revolting bloodstained concept (“…dealt with the early history of Scotland…”). The musical background of this album did not differ that much from what the Diggers had done – or would do – in their career, in retrospect. But dressing similar (with some ‘epic’ spice from then on) passionate honest simplified Metal music with different conceptual thesis is quite smart and intriguing too, isn’t it?

A ‘bonus’ notable change anno 2010 is the fresh service of guitarist Axel Ritt (DOMAIN), who steps in and fills for both Manni Schmidt and Thilo Herrmann; well, Thilo participated in the only twin-guitar GRAVE DIGGER album “Ballads Of A Hangman” (2009). Anyway, the melodic background of Axel cannot go unnoticed especially in the solo parts, since the riffs are quite solid to be altered in the band’s songwriting style. He is not Manni and he probably does not want to pretend he is, truth is – however – there’s a slight downgrade in the songs’ technical dimension. Don’t get me wrong, he’s an excellent player and whoever’s aware of DOMAIN’s melodic Hard/Heavy/Power Metal class should have already shaped a drift idea for Axel’s contribution.

Leaving such specifications behind, the neat heart of the GRAVE DIGGER family tick tacks again in full pride. It’s classic post-“Tunes Of War” speed Heavy Metal with its epic/heroic moments and you should certainly have no fear thinking of how shall Chris Boltendahl sing in this album. Fast ‘bullet’ songs (“Paid In Blood”, “Hammer Of The Scots”, “Rebels”, “Execution”, “Spider”), mid-pace banging cuts (“Highland Farewell”, “Valley Of Tears”, “Coming Home”), crawling dark epic tales (“The Clans Will Rise Again”, “When Rain Turns To Blood”)…it’s all here. Have no lyrics to accompany the music but from the song titles and only the “Tunes Of War” ‘sequel’ theory is confirmed. Chris is quite an experienced vocalist and has no difficulty in dressing each song with the harmonies needed, and it’s quite significant to mention here that he ties really well with some solo leads Axel delivers in certain parts.

Recorded during May-July 2010 in Axel’s own Meadow Studios plus Principal Studios (a shelter for the band the last fifteen years) and produced by Chris himself, “The Clans Will Rise Again” is a loose sequel of the “Tunes Of War” album, but this time not a concept album about the Scottish history, rather a work about Scotland, its mysticism and its people”. OK, the idea of working on a ‘pipes’ re-run of a successful recipe initially crossed my mind – and still does periodically, don’t get fooled – but since “The Clans Will Rise Again” features some excellent well-delivered classic Heavy/Speed Metal music from one of the pioneers of this genre (ACCEPT and RUNNING WILD are fellow legends instantly popping up) I do not think I could ask for something more. I do not foresee a ‘commercial’ song making a name for itself the way “Rebellion” did years ago; maybe “Hammer Of The Scotcs” or “Valley Of Tears” have such a potential…seasons have changed anyway. The main picture is that a new GRAVE DIGGER album should be out in the streets soon and it does really justify the band’s name, value and virtue. Would you really ask for something more?

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
  1. Days Of Revenge
  2. Paid In Blood
  3. Hammer Of The Scots
  4. Highland Farewell
  5. The Clans Will Rise Again
  6. Rebels
  7. Valley Of Tears
  8. Execution
  9. Whom The Gods Love Die Young
  10. Spider
  11. The Piper Mcleod
  12. Coming Home
  13. When Rain Turns To Blood
Lineup:
Chris Boltendahl - Vocals
Axel Ritt - Guitars, Backing Vocals
Jens Becker - Bass
Stefan Arnold - Drums
Hans Peter Katzenburg - Keyboards
Record Label: Napalm Records
     


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