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Grave Digger - Rheingold (CD)

Grave Digger
by Amy La Salla at 25 May 2003, 10:14 PM

I had been hearing a lot about Grave Digger from the Metal underground, much of it good. However, I did not actually buy an album until a few months ago when the cover of Rheingold caught my eye.  It features a dragon, skull and golden haired warrior. Remembering how my friends had heaped praises upon them I bought Rheingold and brought it home.
Grave Digger have been releasing albums since 1984 with a good frequency. One or two years between each album seems the usual for them, which is pleasing to hear. Their music has the Rock 'n' Roll sound you would expect coming from a full on Metal band from the 80's. It has moved forward some, while retaining its butt-kicking edge. The best thing about the band is it's guitarist Manfred Albert Schmidt. He wields a mean axe with catchy melodies and a good soloing ability. His playing reminds me a little of Jon Schaffer of Iced Earth fame sometimes.
The singer Chris Max Boltendahl has a gravelly voice and a good sense of melody. He sounds a little like a deeper voiced version of Saxon's Biff Byford, and his lyrics are imaginative but vary in quality.
They keyboardist adds a nice atmosphere to the music and does not overstay his welcome and the drummer does his job well without resorting to pointless barrages.
On Rheingold, Grave Digger attempts to mix classical and Metal music. When done right the two musics can be the perfect mix. Grave Digger combine them with a varying amount of success on Rheingold. For example: On the song Maiden of War they mix them well and the effect is very good.  On the introduction to Rheingold, (a song named The Ring) the music does not flow well from one song to the other.
Time for the song by song breakdown:
The Ring is the (classical) introduction to the album. It is a beautiful and relaxing song.  The only problem is it sticks out like a sore thumb with the heaviness of Rheingold.
Rheingold, is melodic and crunchy. It is exciting to listen to and catchy. It has an especially cool guitar solo.
Valhalla, is not quite as catchy as Rheingold but is still good. Great riffery!
Giants guitar-work is on par with Rheingold and reminds me of 80's bands like Sword and Metal Church. I do not care for the words to the chorus, to be honest but that could just be a personal preference.
The epic of the album, Maidens of War, mixes Metal and classical music perfectly. It has a melancholic feel, despite the aggressive nature of the music. The words to this song are the best on the album and although they do not compete with the likes of Geoff Tate (Queensryche) at his height or Midnight (ex-Crimson Glory), they are effective. It is my second favorite track on Rheingold.
Sword is another song that fuses Metal and classical music well. It a mid-tempo groover, with a nice atmosphere.
Dragon is a straight forward Metal song, melodious and cool. It should be noted that while the verse's lyrics are not good, the chorus's is. (The chorus) is simple but fun to sing along to. The violent nature of the lyrics might attract staring at the super market though.
Liar is another stand-out track. It must be great to play live because like Dragon, Liar is fun to sing to.
Murderer is my third favorite song on this album. It is dynamic, groovy and both angry and doleful. The lyrics are well done and the solo has real feeling to it!
Twilight Of The Gods, is the best song on the album. It is driving, fast and full of rage. The music is catchier than a honey covered toad's tongue! The chorus is powerful and you just want to head-bang.
These are the things Rheingold has against it: Inconsistent quality of lyrics and mixing of genres (Metal and Classical). It does not push the boundaries of Metal.
What Rheingold has going for it: Great guitar-work, atmosphere and catchiness.
Overall, I would say that Rheingold is a solid, fun album. Good to rock out to. It is not, over-all, a classic album.

3 Star Rating

The Ring
Maidens of War
Twilight Of The Gods
Manni Schmidt - Guitars
H.P. Katzenburg - Keyboards
Chris Boltendahl - Vocals
Stefan Arnold - Drums
Jens Becker - Bass
Record Label: Nuclear Blast Records


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