Grave Digger - Clash of the gods 3.5/5

Reviewed: 10-1-12


1. Charon
2. God of terror
3. Hell dog
4. Medusa
5. Clash of the gods
6. Death angel the Grave Digger
7. Walls of sorrow
8. Call of the sirens
9. Warriors revenge
10. With the wind
11. Home at last

The 15th full-length studio CD from the stalwart German band is everything you’d expect if you’ve heard any of the band's recent CDs, uncompromising, leather-lunged pure heavy metal, but iterative to a fault.

It’s hard not to think about the band’s prolific nature when listening to this latest CD. In a time long past, metal legends like Judas Priest and Black Sabbath somehow released classic and innovative CDs year after year, a time period that seems infinitesimal these days (and maybe that’s just me aging!) , but these days even the bands we love that are still going strong find themselves putting 4 or 5 years between each release, sometimes without thinking about it. Grave Digger remains an exception with their relentless release schedule, and since the band’s rebirth in 1993, the 12 CDs they’ve spun out is a lot more than anyone else’s output I can think of during that time. It has included some monumental classics like ‘Tunes of war’ and scores of other magnificent songs. For those of us who craved the taste of pure metal, in its darkest nadir, when ‘The reaper’ and ‘Heart of darkness’ arrived, the band’s unflinching devotion to straight ahead heavy metal, deeply steeped in the blood of Accept in leather lunged crunch and steel, was glorious refreshment.

But... much as we’d never want the sound to compromise or the band to change its style, as CD after CD pour out with such similar style, in a relatively short period of time, it can become too much of a good thing. One starts to ponder the effective variations on the same type of riffs, rhythms, and vocal melodies. The band has drawn the most distinction with the lyrical themes to the CDs, which certainly helps, whether it’s pure concepts like Scottish history or more general similar themes like human freedom.

'Clash of the gods', per its title draws its lyrical inspiration from Greek myth, with songs about Charon, Medusa, Hades and Odysseus. That’s the most distinction I can draw about the latest CD, as the music is good but completely expected, and without any songs that truly raise to that highest level of Grave Digger’s achievement like “Rebellion”, “Lancelot”, “Inquisition” and “Liberty of death.” Chris Boltendahl’s leather/melodic rasp is as distinctive as ever, guitarist Axel Ritt crunches out riffs that are an endless monument to Accept, while bassist Jens Becker and drummer Stefan Arnold provide the anthemic rhythm driving the songs in a pummeling march. It’s good, enjoyable, and entertaining, and, at the end of the day, strong and well-played metal. But when measured against some of their more memorable songwriting, while it won’t disappoint a Grave Digger fan, it will probably not greatly inspire you.




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