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Grave Digger

Date: 03/02/08
Venue: BB King Blues Club
Reviewed By: Rich Catino

Intro: the Brave
Liberty or Death
Son of Evil
Scotland United
The Grave Dancer
Grave in The No Man's Land
The Dark of the Sun
The House
Highland Tears
The Roundtable
Morgane Lefey
Silent Revolution
Knights of the Cross
The Last Supper
The Grave Digger
Heavy Metal Breakdown

After almost twenty five years of making music (yes that’s right “Heavy Metal Breakdown” came out in 1984), and having success in other parts of the world, Germany’s Grave Digger finally get to play their second US show (first was at the BWBK Fest in 04) in New York.

If you didn’t already know, Grave Digger has released a string of solid traditional European, slightly Germanic sounding given Chris’ voice, metal albums since their 84 debut. They include “The Reaper”, “Heart of Darkness” (where from tonight they played “The Grave Dancer”), “Tunes of War” (where the live favorite “Rebellion” is found), “Excalibur”, “The Grave Digger” which I feel is one of their strongest, and “Rheingold” (where “Valhalla” comes).

Original member and lead singer Chris Boltendahl is joined by ex Rage guitarist Manni Schmidt who came on board for the excellent “The Grave Digger” in 01, long time members since the late 90’s Jens Becker on bass, Stefan Arnold on drums, H.P. Katzenburg on keyboards (also the Reaper), and latest addition to the ranks Thilo Herrmann (former Running wild guitarist).

The guys presented a nice setlist comprised of one 80’s classic “Heavy Metal Breakdown” to songs from the latest album “Liberty or Death”. The set was heavy on the Middle Ages Trilogy albums “Tunes of War” (with “Scotland United”, “The Dark of the Sun”, “Rebellion”), title track to “Knights of the Cross” (“Lionheart”), and the title track to “Excalibur” (“Morgane Le Fay” and “The Round Table”).

Chris is the perfect frontman and voice for Grave Digger. His rough raspy voice with its inflections gives the songs what they need and he accommodates the equally tough meaty guitars. “Son of Evil”, “The House”, “The Grave Dancer”, “Grave in the No Mans Land”, all carry jack hammer riffing and a nice mid pace giving the people what it needs to bang their heads.

And while many of Grave Digger’s songs can bee seen as old school speed metal, crowd pleasing anthems like “Valhalla”, “Scotland United”, “Rebellion”, and “The Round Table” rile up the audience to pick up a sword raise their fists in the air and sing along.

I am glad to see this under appreciated band is getting some recognition here in the States. The crowd numbers tonight could have been better but it was a solid showing of die hard fans none the less. I hope this is a start for them and maybe we will see more shows in the future.


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