Grave Digger - _Liberty or Death_
(Locomotive Records, 2007)
by: Yiannis Stefanis (
When I think of classic Teutonic heavy metal, the first band that always come to mind is Accept -- quite understandably so, seeing as Wolf Hoffman has been one of the most inspiring riffmen in the history of heavy metal. With the Accept project being permanently put on ice though, German heavy metal was in great need of a band whose music would similarly be based on simple cut edge riffs and chorusy / sing-along refrains, and in my opinion the most appropriate band to successfully fill this great gap is Grave Digger.There are many reasons why Chris Boltendahl's outfit remains popular and recognised by the majority of metalheads throughout the world; but the most important is their collaboration with Nuclear Blast, which brought to life some really good efforts such as 2005's _The Last Supper_ and the very impressive DVD release _25 to Live_. With that collaboration being officially terminated almost a year ago, I was really worried about the band's future -- until I received the promo of the band's latest album _Liberty of Death_, released by the Spanish label Locomotive Records.Jens Becker (bass) and Manni Schmidt (guitars) have been members of Grave Digger for quite a long time now, and _Liberty or Death_ is another result of this amazing musical collaboration. The album kicks off with the same titled composition, based on a heavy mid-tempo riff and a typical sing-along chorusy refrain -- both typical of the band's style -- followed by the much faster "Ocean of Blood", which contains riffs of an Accept flair and solos that are influenced by the almighty Iron Maiden.What I really enjoy about this album is its impressive dynamics that find mid-tempo compositions like "The Terrible One" and "Shadowland" sharing the same space with up-tempo dynamite like the brilliantly performed "Forcecourt to Hell", which is by far the best composition on the album. As a devoted Judas Priest fan, I immediately realised that the main riff of "Highland Tears" was terribly similar to that of "Hard as Iron" (from the Judas Priest album _Ram it Down_), but that didn't bother me at all, and the same applies to the AC/CD sounding "Silent Revolution". The only real objection that I have is with regards to "Massada", a song based on an oriental theme, which unfortunately sounds out of place and doesn't mingle well with the remaining compositions.Fans of Grave Digger know damn well that things were never easy for the German outfit, but Chris Boltendahl's love for heavy metal seems to be strong enough to overcome any obstacle. I am not that naive to believe that _Liberty or Death_ is the album that will re-invent classic heavy metal, but by following strictly all the rules that made this genre so great and by displaying moments of advanced musicianship, this album becomes a very attractive purchase.
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