German legends Grave Digger are back once again with a new album. The PR material was enough to whet my appetite as its claims this album is a return to classic Grave Digger in the vein of their first two albums and their ’93 effort ‘The Reaper’. As you listen to this you find this to be a bit of an exaggeration apart from two of the tracks that includes the speed infused ‘Satan’s Host’. The remainder of the album up’s the stakes compared to most recent releases by this band so you still have a euro power metal feel running through the album. The songs themselves this time around are a bit more varied and there is a general increase of excitement about the arrangements, they sound much more varied now.
One of the more comfortable renditions includes ‘Road Rage Killer’ that is surly inspired by Accept and Primal Fear, or it sounds quite similar, remember this band have been around since 1980 so they have their own legacy of influencing other bands, so I wouldn’t go as far as saying they are following a best laid path of others. The only downside to this release is ‘Season of the Witch’ which is a slow plodding affair and a little out of character to the remainder of the album in fairness because overall there are bright tight melodies and fast paced tracks to keep you entertained, even if lyrically there is a lot of depression going on (the ballad track ‘Nothing to Believe’ for example).
Other cool tracks are ‘Dia de los Muertos’ and ‘Tattooed Rider’ and overall this is a marked improvement over their recent releases. Whilst not totally retaining the speed metal assault of the first trio of albums, the concept styled release is left alone a little bit here, there is much more energy about this album and that makes this a rather pleasing affair. Fans of the band will hopefully embrace this new outlook as for me it’s a relief and joy that Grave Digger sound more invigorated and more positive going forward, save for some of the song subject matters of course. The opening instrumental is Chopin’s well known ‘Funeral March’ but ‘Return of the Reaper’ is an album that is so far away from this bands final curtain call, the future sounds promising.
(7.5/10 Paul Maddison)