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Released: 1999, Gun
Excalibur. This is one CD I have been trying to get my hands on for a long time. Well the wait was well worth it. This is one great disc. Grave Digger have a very extensive back catalogue stretching back to the early 80s. Grave Digger are one of those bands that have never gotten the recognition that they deserve. The band got their start in 1980. The lineup consisted of Chris Boltendahl (vocals), Peter Masson (guitar), Willi Lackmann (bass) and Albert Eckardt (drums) They recorded their first CD called "Heavy Metal Breakdown" for Noise Records in 1984. This album was followed by a tour with Sinner, Running Wild and Warlock. Grave Digger released two more discs in 1985 and 1986 respectively. In 1986 the band dropped Grave from their moniker and released the CD "Stronger Than Ever" under the name Digger. This CD did not do as well as expected and in early 1987 the band called it quits. In 1991 Boltendahl resurrected the band under its original name, Grave Digger. Since then they have signed to Gun Records and released such classic CDs as "Tunes of War" and "Knights of the Cross." "Excalibur" can now be added to that list!!
This is one classic disc. As the title "Excalibur" might tell you, the CD is a concept album based around the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. I must admit that I am not up on the story of King Arthur. This will change. This CD has piqued my interest in Arthurian Legend. Grave Digger play a brand of power metal which is short on the soaring vocals and long on great songs, dirty guitars and blasting drums. Chris Boltendahl sounds like a cross between Udo Dirkschneider and a diesel motor. He has little range but does so much with his vocals that you never miss the high notes. The CD opens with an intro called "The Secrets of Merlin" which segues into "Pendragon." This is a ripper of a tune that sets the bar high for the rest of the songs on the CD. But Grave Digger is up to the challenge. "Morgane Lefay" is a very interesting tune as Boltendahl uses a clean singing voice for certain parts. This adds immensely to the song. He should use this voice more often as he is quite a good singer. Another highlight of the CD is "Mordred’s Song." This is a ripper of a tune. Grave Digger even include a ballad. This tune might not appeal to everyone as Boltendahl voice is not suited to this type of song. After a few listens the song grows on you. If nothing else it carries on the storyline of the CD. The tune closing with the absolute smoking track "Parcival." A fitting closer to a great CD.
"Excalibur" is a very interesting CD. Grave Digger weave a very intelligent story within the confines of a 13 song CD. They do not depend on elaborate orchestration to tell the story. They just play good old school straight ahead power metal. The band do a good job of mixing the tempos of the songs so that all are not straight ahead thrashers. The production is powerful and the CD cover art is very medieval. This is one CD that belongs in every metalheads collection.
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