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Grave Digger – Liberty or Death

Label: Locomotive
Format: CD
Released: 2007
Reviewed By: Rich Catino

I bet many of you American metalheads didn’t think Grave Digger even still existed, and only maybe only know their classic from 1983 "Heavy Metal Breakdown" or "Witchhunter"? Well after 25 years, thirteen studio and two live albums, in 07 they continue to make classic heavy metal.


With "Liberty or Death", Grave Digger’s music while never ever changes, has gone in more of the medieval sounding direction similar to "Knights of the Cross". "Liberty" does not contain the dark ominous compositions or guitar tones like heard on the gothic Edgar Allan Poe inspired "The Grave Digger" (easily one of their best I think), or the conceptual "Rheingold" to the Bible inspired "The Last Supper" from 2005 (which had some guitar riffs that were very Zakk Wyldeish).

Both the instrumental intro to the title track and bagpipe’s for ‘Highland Tears’, as well as the overall riffing style hark back to the clanging swords and shields heard on "Knights of the Cross"”. Even right down to the vocal harmonies for ‘Highland Tears’ are clearly from 1998 during the “Middle Ages Trilogy” which also included the highly regarded "Tunes of War" (‘March of the Innocent’ here carries some similarities to that record) and follow up to "Knights", "Excalibur".

Not sure how they did it but Grave Digger does have different periods to their music, and how the riffs are written do play a major part to the albums direction and tone.

Hailing from Germany was instrumental in the band’s unique and in a way very own style and sound from the start. Long time band leader and vocalist Chris Boltendahl and his ruff tone accented by well produced chainsaw guitars, which have been provided by Manni Schmidt since 2000, are the keys that keeps the grave digger working in the heavy metal cemetery.

"Liberty or Death" is more varied and not as one directional as "The Last Supper". Take ‘Silent Revolution’ which offers an AC/DC anthemic like drum beat, guitar riff and lead and acts as a needed compliment to the more Accept spirited riffs usually heard.

Another strong album with more to offer than their last. Its great to know you can always get a true Grave Digger record out of these guys and still maybe get a surprise or two out of em as well.

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