Review : GRAVE DIGGER – "The Clans will Rise Again"


Grave DiggerThe Clans will Rise Again
Release Date: 2010Oct01 (US)
Label: Napalm Records
Rating: 3.5/5

Germany’s Grave Digger have remained one of the hardest working and most consistent classic Metal bands. Since their mighty reformation in the early 1990s, they have scarcely let a year slip between releases. The formula of referencing war and strife throughout history has held up well, and The Clans will Rise Again is a “loose sequel” to their 1996 album, Tunes of War, about the Scottish uprisings over hundreds of years.

Though they once again changed their axeman, now to Axel Ritt (he even has ‘axe’ in his name!), there is some continuity in addition to original member and band leader, vocalist Chris Boltendahl. Grave Digger have rocked their current rhythm section of Jens Becker on bass and Stefan Arnold on drums for about a dozen years now, and Hans Peter “H.P.” Katzenburg continues as their longtime keyboardist. Respectively, they form a solid foundation and welcome depth to the traditional execution.

Katzenburg’s synth bagpipes work well in the intro, “Days of Revenge”, and interlude “The Piper Mcleod”, but when they are featured prominently in “Highland Farewell”, their electronic nature shows through (though I must say Boltendahl’s pronunciation of ‘[w]engeance’ is adorable). “Coming Home” integrates better, and I like the military snare that fades out. I wish the album ended here instead of the 6+ minute power ballad “When Rain Turns to Blood”, where the vocals sound unfortunately silly.

And speaking of unfortunately silly, I’m glad to finally tease out the impression that Mr. Lordi performs, within Lordi‘s infinite falseness—it’s Chris! I knew I recognized that gravelly gargle from somewhere. Well, monstrous as that man is (on the outside anyway), what comes from inside Mr. Boltendahl is Grave Digger‘s most distinguishable feature, as he commands a feverish intensity. Just listen to his conviction on the vehement “Paid in Blood”, vicious “Hammer of the Scots”, or vengeful “Execution”.

Anyone into classic power metal—or… well… Braveheart—should enjoy this album. Grave Digger are not a band to be ignored, even with (and due in part to) their 30 years of burying the naysayers (pun? intended?). My only suggestion for future albums is to opt for actual instruments instead of relying so heavily on H.P.’s keyboards. He adds nice flavor to songs like “Spider”, but certain instruments—especially those involving reeds—lose something in synthetic reproduction.

FCC OK
Try: 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 12

01. Days of Revenge
02. Paid in Blood
03. Hammer of the Scots
04. Highland Farewell
05. The Clans will Rise Again
06. Rebels
07. Valley of Tears
08. Execution
09. Whom the Gods Love Die Young
10. Spider
11. The Piper Mcleod
12. Coming Home
13. When Rain Turns to Blood

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