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Grave Digger - "Rheingold"
Nuclear Blast 2003

How about some new Grave Digger record? Abracadabra and here she is! As Chris recalled in one of his interviews, "The Grave Digger" was warming up album for the band and newcomer Manni Schmidt. Obviously the band's recovering album gave "shovel shufflers" enough recharging energy to create new conceptual album.

We got dying Arthur (Emerald Eyes, from band's album "Excalibur"), full of anger but at the same time surrounded by the light of revelation. This time band delivers familiar example in song Murderer, where betrayed Siegfried faces his agony, but on the other hand feels somehow blessed and free when leaving his life, cursed by a sword (verse: "and I've learned my lesson,"). That's how true legend (never) dies. What I like is the fact that band always end-circles the stories with non-happy endings and leaves their concept always opened.

Reinforced with new guitar hero, Grave Digger succeeded very quickly to develop right working chemistry. It restarted band's amazing talents of bringing epic-tales or history tales via their song writing hellish alive. Only a few metal bands are as convincible as Grave Digger in choosing the right tunes to a certain concept. Album means further progress for the band, but yet a sort of homecoming to "Excalibur" roots. Further progress was surely made in selection of orchestral arrangements that are done even more ambitiously in comparison with "Excalibur" (1999). If "The Grave Digger" was rough and straight record, "Rheingold" is more epically fashioned, and therefore driven more in aforementioned 1999 record's vein. Some of you might get an impression that Digger guys are headed with their latest effort back to eighties symphonic metal directions. In general sense there is not much to doctorate over Grave Digger's new record. Songs are smash after smash and ranges from being mid tempo epics (Sword, Murderer with acoustical pre-chorus's motive close to 1995's Heart Of Darkness opening theme) up to extreme high speedy killers (Rheingold, Giants, Liar) that will tear your heads apart. No ballads included! Teutonic rhythm drives, raw power of Jens's bass line and Stefan's thundering double bass are kicking like a mule. Delicate sound of band's classic riff-bible via Manni's axe is freely ripping through the air. Schmidt is true refreshment for a band. This time he assembled very carefully his solo layers. Solos are much different (more epical shaped) in comparison with his finger flickering "The Grave Digger" album or Rage era style.

Band paid special attention in middle sections of songs enlightened by H.P.'s supreme selection of orchestral arrangements that stretches every single short striker's musical range by capturing different moods inside them. Manni laid down some great solos that nicely fit inside songs (Murder, Twilight Of The Gods, bonus track Hero). In Maidens Of War he even closes his solo with bridge taken from part three (Valkyrie) of Wagner's romantic opera "The Ring Of The Nibelungs". Angry and fearsome singing is mainly focused on pre-choruses, while brilliant selection of multiple back-vocal harmonies surrounds Chris's lead vocals in choruses. Irreplaceable Chris at his best! Record reaches its peak where it is need to. At the end with Murderer and Twilight Of Gods that are two supreme little symphonic fantasies. A new record contains everything that must surely satisfy every true Grave Digger fan. Chris & co., keep on digging!

Author:   Aleš

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