Label: Napalm Records
Release date: September 4, 2012
Germany’s Grave Digger is back again with an all new full length album, Clash of the Gods. I had the privilege of writing a review for their EP Home at Last released in July and was relatively pleased with their ability to maintain their classic hard-hitting heavy metal sound, despite being in this business for over 30 years. Clash of the Gods is no exception.
The album has a mythological theme to it, and the song titles alone get me excited. Opening the album is an intro track called “Charon”. Charon is the ferryman to Hades, guiding all damned souls to their home in the underworld. So what better way to kick off a heavy metal album than an eerie little number, complete with German voice-overs and creepy sound effects? It’s simply a perfect start to a great album.
Continuing on, each song has a different theme from the hell dog, “Cerberus”, to the beautiful yet deadly tale of sirens luring their prey to their ultimate death, and wrapping up with Home at Last. It is a great example of Joseph Campbell’s Journey of the Hero, a tale of departure, internal struggle, and ultimately returning home a hero. The lyrics are so well put together and easy to hear, it makes for some true listening enjoyment, while transporting you into an ancient world of gods and goddesses and of course, some monsters to go along with them.
I was truly impressed at Grave Digger’s ability to hold onto their classic heavy metal sound. Each track brings in a different element to the album. “God of Terror” is probably the thrashiest track on the album, with a killer guitar solo and perfect drum and bass elements mixed in. I put that solo on repeat about ten times when I first played the album. “Medusa” has a deeper tone to it; of course the subject matter is a bit dark and gloomy. The track maintains a solid heavy metal tone, but manages to incorporate a feeling of fear that the listener should pick up on rather quickly.
Axel Ritt’s playing style (he is rather new to the band joining in 2009) is what really sets this album apart from other Grave Digger releases. Each track has that signature Grave Digger chorus with epic vocal layering to sound like you’re hearing them play in a crowded arena with fans shouting along, but man these guitar riffs rule. Even the slower songs have such a hook in them that you can’t help but bang your head. The guitar solos are immaculate and blend in perfectly, showing true writing talent and not just a guitarist showing off how fast they can play.
Chris Boltendahl still has the pipes of a heavy metal king, and the drum and bass help give each song a driving beat perfect for thrashing around your house, shower, car, work, or wherever that urge may come about (which I warn you – you put on this album and it WILL happen). The keys aren’t used too much in this album, but that’s pretty normal for this band. I think they managed to perfectly utilize synth so it doesn’t overpower the HEAVY METAL. The album gets better and better as it goes along the hero’s journey, with its high point in the track “Death Angel and the Grave Digger”. This song alone has everything a great metal song needs and more.
I sincerely recommend this album to any Grave Digger fan, old and new alike. It has the ability to literally transform you into another place and time, and with a fantastic soundtrack on your journey who would complain? These heavy metal giants are definitely still out for blood, and this album should seriously grab your attention and respect. There’s not much in this album I would change, it’s damn near perfect.
Chris Boltendahl – Vocals
Stefan Arnold – Drums
Jens Becker – Bass
H.P. Katzenburg – Keyboards
Axel “Ironfinger” Ritt – Guitars
2. God of Terror
5. Clash of the Gods
6. Death Angel and the Grave Digger
7. Walls of Sorrow
8. Call of the Sirens
9. Warriors Revenge
10. With the Wind
11. Home at Last