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Grave Digger
The Reaper
September 2014
Released: 1993, GUN Records
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Erich

Editors Note. Metal-Rules.com was founded in 1995 as a forward thinking site. Our goal is, and always has been, to support Real Metal. The decision was made that very rarely do we ever go back and review an album from before 1995. Does the world really need another CD review of Master Of Puppets, Powerslave or Screaming For Vengeance? We don’t think so. We have always supported what is happening now.



Starting in January, 2014, as we head towards our 10,000th review and the 20th Anniversary of Metal-Rules.com, we are looking back and filling in a few gaps in the review database. We want to complete the post-1995 review catalogue of some of the bands that we have supported since 1995, when very few, if any website were supporting real Metal. It’s fun to go back and revisit some of these albums that we did not review when they were first released. Enjoy!



Returning after a seven year absence, Grave Digger was essentially a new band, with Chris Boltendahl the lone remaining original member. THE REAPER, while a return to form for the band also featured previously released songs from Boldendahl’s short lived project, Hawaii and their demo BOTTLES AND FOUR COCONUTS. Despite these recycled tunes, THE REAPER established some of the elements of the Grave Digger template for their 90s albums and beyond, while offering some connections to their earlier 80s albums as well. Thus THE REAPER is an important chapter in the Grave Digger saga, even if it is not a perfect album.



After the intro, the next three tracks are nearly faultless. “The Reaper”, “Rock On”, and “Shadows Of A Moonless Night” are the clear high points of the album delivered with speed and attitude. At its best, THE REAPER combines the speed of power metal with the traditionally rooted heavy metal purity of Priest and Accept. The drumming of Jörg Michael is inspired, the man’s work on the album being one of THE REAPER’s strengths. Clearly out of place however amongst the speedsters are songs like “Wedding Day”, which is so derivative of Accept that it smacks of plagiarism and the equally awkward “And The Devil Plays Piano” featuring an embarrassing and out of place guitar solo.



Despite a few setbacks, THE REAPER mostly succeeds thanks to its steely and precise guitar riffs and commitment to ending the play for commercial success that was evident on STRONGER THAN EVER. The production is outstanding and Boltendahl's vocals are energetic, and welcome blends of high and gruff styles are employed throughout the album. THE REAPER is mostly speed metal, but with unmistakable power metal additions that would continue to figure prominently in the band’s later albums.
Track Listing

1. Tribute To Death

2. The Reaper

3. Ride On

4. Shadow Of A Moonless Night

5. Play Your Game (And Kill)

6. Wedding Day

7. Spy Of Mas' On

8. Under My Flag

9. Fight The Fight

10. Legion Of The Lost (Part II)

11. And The Devil Plays Piano

12. Ruler Mr. H

13. The Madness Continues

12.

Lineup

Chris Boltendahl - Vocals,
Tomi Göttlich - Bass
Jörg Michael - Drums
Uwe Lulis - Guitars


Next review: » Grave Digger - Tunes Of War
Previous review: » Grave Digger - The Last Supper





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