A ground-breaking band in the early ’80s, Germany’s Grave Digger have built an amazing catalog and reputation over their thirty five years of existence. Along with Saxon and Accept, Grave Digger blended straightforward heavy metal mixed with speed metal.
They are led by the gravelly-throated Chris Boltendahl, who has seen a revolving door of musicians throughout their long career. The current lineup is one of their most consistent as they unleash their latest, Healed By Metal.
Coming off the ripping Return of the Reaper, which was followed up by a rerecording of their early material on Exhumation (The Early Years), I was curious to see how this would impact the songwriting going forward. Staying away from writing another concept record, which was so prominent in parts of their career, Healed By Metal is an uncomplicated affair.
Fully embracing their Judas Priest influences throughout, the material is up-tempo and the riffs are classic Priest. “Free Forever” starts out eerily like “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’” before transitioning to an anthemic chorus. “Kill Ritual”, “Lawbreaker” and “Ten Commandments Of Metal” musically are taken right out of the Judas Priest handbook.
The title track opens the album with a grinding riff that will have you cranking your neck in no time. A power metal chorus leads the way with Boltendahl’s chewed on glass vocals working perfectly. Grave Digger are at their best when they incorporate speed metal tendencies into their sound. Tracks like “When Night Falls” and “Call For War” showcase that, as they are the best songs contained within.
“Hallelujah” loses a little steam as the vocals can be grating at times. The Black Sabbath inspired “Laughing With The Dead” has more impact with it being the only mid paced track. Led by a bouncing bass line by Jens Becker, Grave Digger incorporate their take on “Heaven And Hell.”
It would have been great to see Grave Digger expand on the style of “Satan’s Host” off of Return Of The Reaper. A blend of punk and metal, it would be outstanding to see them do a whole release in that vibe. Healed By Metal’s strength is that it flies by and is over before you know it. At just 35 minutes, it is concise and a punch to the face.
Another solid release in the Grave Digger repertoire, Healed By Metal is not quite as strong as Return Of The Reaper, but it is still an enjoyable blast of metal. It’s great to see Grave Digger still crafting quality songs and continually raising the flag for metal.
(Released January 13th, 2017 on Napalm Records)