In a career spanning 33 years to date, GRAVE DIGGER have their 18th studio album out for release this year, Healed By Metal. The new record comes out three years after the band’s last album, Return of the Reaper, continuing their relationship with Napalm Records.
The new record begins with the title track, and from the off it is clear that is a power metal album. It begins with the track name being chanted by GRAVE DIGGER, accompanied with an opening power riff from the guitars of Axel Ritt, which is quickly followed up by the rest of the band setting a relatively slow tempo. The tempo allows the song to build up to the chorus, a typical feature of many power metal tracks. This doesn’t paint the whole picture for the rest of the album though. There are three different sounds throughout Healed By Metal – there are some tracks which are conventionally power metal, some which contain much faster riffs and generally sound similar to thrash metal, and somewhere in the middle are songs which are very much like classic metal hits of the 80’s.
The second track on the record, When Night Fades, shows how different some of the tracks are compared to the opening song. The riffs are much faster, there are plenty of blast beats from Stefan Arnold, and the whole sound of the track feels much heavier. Even though it builds up to the chorus well, like the majority of the songs on the album, the vocals of Chris Boltendahl have a much more aggressive tone to it. Another standout hit is Lawbreaker, which appears to have taken a huge amount of inspiration from JUDAS PRIEST. The track starts off with the faint sound of a Harley Davidson pulling away, before the rider opens the throttle and blasts away, and kicks straight into a simple hard riff from Ritt’s guitar. In fact, the whole track sounds like it could well have been taken straight off a JUDAS PRIEST album; plus the name of the track is also a bit of a giveaway for anyone who is familiar with the hit single Breaking the Law.
Each song on its own has something a little bit different which makes it special, which also makes it a bit harder to pick out the highlights of the record on the whole. Having given the album a good run through a few times, one song in particular which stood out from the rest is Kill Ritual. The intro is relatively a slower pace compared to some of the more thrash styled tracks on the album, with the riff increasing in pitch, before the song completely changes direction with a much faster paced solo and the rest of the band kicking in. Even though the pace is a fair amount faster, there is still an epic build up to the chorus which gives the track a much more conventional power metal feel.
There is only one track on Healed By Metal which is very different to the others, which is Laughing With The Dead, the final song on the album. Compared to some of the songs mentioned above, this one takes a different twist altogether; there is a much slower build up, and the riffs are nothing like the rest of the album. Again, it builds up to another brilliant chorus, and for sure would be a great song to be seen live, but on this album it does seem out of place compared to the rest of the record.
While some bands tend to lose steam after so many years, this record is testament to the hard work of GRAVE DIGGER, and shows that, even with 17 albums already out, there is still new material to be written and produced, something that they have executed very well. This is certainly an album hardcore fans will be proud of, while others who have dipped their toe in the pool of power metal can certainly add this album to their list.
Healed By Metal is set for release on January 13th via Napalm Records.
Like GRAVE DIGGER on Facebook.