Grave Digger, Clash of the Gods – Album Review

 

 

Formed in 1980 Grave Digger have released fifteen studio albums. Their newest edition Clash of the Gods will take the total to sixteen and I am quite excited to be reviewing it. The albums theme is Ancient Greece and mention Greek gods and legends. The album was released on the 3rd of September in the UK.

The first track is called Charon, which I believe is the ferryman who carries souls to Hades, nice!

The track fittingly starts off with sound samples of waves, sea birds and…an accordion? And chanting in German. So that is the intro for the album.

God of Terror is the next track which starts off with a fantastic groovy riff and drum beat. Staying true to their old school thrash sound, fantastic. I can imagine the crowds singing along to the chorus at a festival, ‘GOD OF TERROR, REIN OF THE DEAD’. Keyboard solo and an awesome guitar solo! And then they join for some harmonising.

Helldog next.  Great starting riff, that old school heavy metal sound but somehow it still feels contemporary, I’m not expert but I would imagine that to be a difficult balance to keep, but Grave Digger are experts. I love the full on vocal sound when singing the title of the track at 1.22, very emotive.

Medusa is one of my favourite Gorgons and the next track is about her, titled Medusa, of course. The tracks starts off with a mysterious vibe. A haunting acoustic guitar sound with sound samples of what I think is wind or snakes? Which might be more likely. With Chris whispering repeatedly ‘mother’ it is a fantastic build up to the track. The spoken lyrics that follow are interesting too and suck me right into the theme. The crone laughing noises are great too. LOVE the riff that starts up the track 1.25 and when the driving drum beat comes in with it, fantastic. The organ keyboard sound behind the vocals works really well. The chorus is another fantastic emotive sing along moment. When the chorus comes back in with more relish at 3.38 it is just epic. A evil vocal chanting section as well which I don’t find cheesy!  A ripping solo follows and then the chorus comes back in. I HAVE to see this played at Bloodstock. How about it Grave Digger?

The title track is next. An eerie but not unpleasant keyboard chord starts the track with a slow drum beat that fades in. An acoustic guitar, with a sort of ancient sound and then an electric accompanies it and I think I can hear a keyboard choir as well. Intriguing and my favourite start to a track so far on this album. The track continues at a slower, menacing pace and as expected the chorus makes you want to sing along. The guitar tone used in the harmony at 3.47 is quite insane but in a good way.

Death Angel and the Grave Digger. Haha! YES now that’s a riff. In with the thrash beat and a cheeky pinch. It slows down for the vocals coming in, the guitar phrase behind the vocals at 0.37 is ace. The speed picks up again and leads us to another fantastic sing along chorus followed by a head banging riff. I love the section beginning at 2.56 when the title is chanted over and over and then the lead guitar and vocals move off together, which sounds fantastic bringing us to the last section of the track which repeats the chorus lyrics.

OOOO Walls of Sorrow’s starting riff and the drum beat, just everything at the start of this track before the vocals. Also loving the groove when the vocals do come in. Quite a melancholy sound in the vocals singing the chorus, quite beautiful, then straight back in with an epic riff! I love the drum beat that starts at 1.37 DO DO DO DO DO, you know the one, old school groove. Loving all the little florets of guitar that are obviously rehearsed but sound very natural, as if the band is just jamming. 2.55! WOW what a guitar harmony! Stunning, and it gets better! The next section is a lead guitar tapping galore, AWESOME. When the chorus comes back in it seems even more sorrowful, love the key changes in the guitars and the riff that eventually ends the track.

Now, Call of the Sirens. A slow guitar and drum beat intro which fade out. A beautiful keyboard section follows which has quite a sad feel with the use of choir singer and what seems like children’s toy sounds. A fantastic, dramatic section follows which then also fades out to an acoustic guitar and the vocals come in, telling the story of the track. I am really enjoying all the changing sections of this track. Again another epic chorus. The previous dramatic riff comes back in and then fades to the acoustic section with vocals and back to the chorus. At 3.21 I am treated to another guitar, fantastic guitar tone. At 4.00, something a bit different, a keyboard solo with a harpsichord sound, nice. Back into the chorus and that dramatic guitar riff comes in and then back to the child’s toy sound on the keyboard. Nice ending.

Warriors Revenge starts off with a staccato guitar riff and an AWESOME drumming section, guitar wail and then the two join forces to create an epic build up to the tracks faster beat, these guys know how to get it going! Fucking amazing. Another epic chorus, ooo I like the key changes. Back in with that driving riff! I really like the lyrics for the chorus as well, stirring up that feeling of battle glory.  ANOTHER ripping guitar solo.

With the Wind now, which fittingly starts off with eerie wind sounds and…well I am not sure how to describe that sound, I thought it was an ancient instrument but it sounds a bit spacey in places.

Home At Last is the last tack of the album. The drums and guitar come in with another fantastic groove. Love the stop start section that follows with the vocals. Another sing along chorus, which this time, I find a bit cheesy. A quiet guitar solo at  2.25 with an epic one straight after and a few groovy riffs for good measure. A good concept for the last track of the album.

 

For me this album evokes that feeling of being at a festival with a group of friends drunkenly singing along with beer in our bellies. I think this sense of good feeling and comradeship comes from the way in which the chorus of each song is sung. This is balanced however with moments of sincerity and sorrow. I suppose what I have just described would be similar to the feelings that a Greek soldiers would have felt in everyday life.

This album definitely grew on me and engulfed me the further I listened, a great experience. The skill of the musician’s oozes out in every track and all the elements fit well together. Every section or phrase adds something new or changes the direction of the listeners mind, never a dull moment.

 

Album rating 8 out of 10

 

Album Track Listing

1. Charon

2. God of Terror

3. Helldog

4. Medusa

5. Clash of the Gods

6. Death Angel and the Grave Digger

7. Walls of Sorrow

8. Call of the Sirens

9. Warrior’s Revenge

10. With the Wind

11. Home at Last

 

Band Line Up

Chris Boltendahl- Vocals

Axel Ritt- Guitar

Jens Becker-  Bass

Stefan Arnold- Drums

Hans Peter “H.P” Katzenburg- Keyboard

 

 

About Aisha Al-Sadie

Scottish based interviewer and reviewer for PM. Aisha is a fine artist who has created album artwork for various bands including Meads of Asphodel and Towers of Flesh. She is a heavy supporter of the UK underground scene and while she has a varied music taste, she admits it is mostly all about the thrash, black and death metal.
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