Grave Digger dates back to 1980 as part of the German heavy metal scene, releasing their first album, Rock From Hell, in 1983. After so many years and many line up changes, 17 studio albums and many EP’s singles and live and compilation albums they are back with their new release Exhumation – The Early Years out October 23rd 2015 on Napalm Records. Re-recorded in the studio, these classics come through with a more powerful sound. As a bonus there are 2 brand new tracks.
The band consists of only one original member Chris Boltendahl on vocals, Stefan Arnold on drums (1996), Jens Becker on bass (1997), Hans Katzenburg on keyboards (1999) and Axel Ritt on guitar (2009).
I will be seeing Grave Digger later this month opening for Blind Guardian. I was excited to check out this album as this is the first time I have heard of Grave Digger.
Starting off the album is “Headbanging Man” – a fast-paced metal song which takes me back to the 1980’s music style I was not into at that time. I was more into the KISS, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi music style, with a few heavier bands such as BattleAxe and Tokyo Blade. It has only been throughout the last few years I have appreciated more styles of heavy metal music.
Right away I am thinking Motorhead, Helloween and Accept which I am a newer fan of. This song has so much energy. I better hang on as I am going for a metal ride with this album.
Next up is “Fire In Your Eyes”. Arnold pounding the drums and some great guitar work from Ritt. “Witch Hunter” continues with Ritt on guitar bringing a much cleaner sound then of old and is a pure metal classic.
By the time the next song “Shoot Her Down” ends, I am getting ready to put my order in to get the hard copy of this CD. This is a great song like the rest and I am wanting to just crank some great metal up!
Continuing on with “Stand Up And Rock”, then one of my favourites, “Heavy Metal Breakdown”.
“We Wanna Rock You” is straight forward with a rocking punch. “Playing Fools” is yet another great song, rocking for the first part then slows it down, bridging the final chorus together perfectly.
“Hear I Stand” has a catchy chorus, and a great ending – with a gun shot for the finale.
Next up is “Tyrant” which is a real highlight for me on this album. A great combination of the lyrics, rhythm and the guitar work of Ritt puts this all together.
Since I was not given the 2 brand new tracks I am not able to include them in this review. However, “Paradise” is the last track and a great finish to this classic ’80’s heavy metal album with a welcoming 2015 sound.
Overall thumbs up to Grave Digger for digging into their vault and re-doing the work from their past. A great compilation and great production. North America – get ready for them on tour – you do not want to miss them with Blind Guardian. I will be at the Toronto show as a fan of Blind Guardian but more excited now I get to see 2 amazing bands!!
Shawn “Animalize” Irwin