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Knights of the Cross
Released: 1998, GUN Records
Reviewer: The Wildman
How does Grave Digger follow-up their excellent CD TUNES OF WAR? Simple. They dumped bassist Tomi Göttlich, replaced him with one of the best bass players around, Jens Becker (of X-Wild and Running Wild fame) and released the even better and extremely powerful KNIGHTS OF THE CROSS.
KNIGHTS OF THE CROSS is yet another concept album and is based upon the Templars, the Crusades, the Holy Grail, and that whole story. It`s delivered in a richly played metal fest with the band playing in top form and cranking out, to me, their best CD of their careers! The music of KNIGHTS is a continuation of the brutality started on TUNES OF WAR but done in a more subtle way. It`s still there but they have softened a bit and the music is more heartfelt and passionate. The story is told very well and the booklet for the CD even comes with a great two page history!
The nice thing about KNIGHTS is that the songs are all very good. There are parts of certain songs that aren`t great but that doesn`t stop them from being top notch metal. As with past Grave Digger reviews, here is a list of the songs that I believe stand out better than others.
# Knights Of The Cross - The sense shattering opener! Tight, rapid, very heavy and with a trademark Grave Digger chorus. A great song to open the CD with.
# Heroes Of This Time - a mid-tempo song with good riffs and a way too cool chorus ("Heroes of this time in their honour, Church bells never cease to chime....")
# Lionheart - a song much like Tunes Of War`s William Wallace; fast and aggressive but with a softer chorus.
# The Keeper Of The Holy Grail starts with an acoustic guitar and bass played over the sound of a church bell before erupting into a slow, crunchy metal song heavily laced with keyboards. (There`s an amazing church organ part about four minutes into the song that I absolutely love.)
# The Curse Of Jacques - My favorite song on the CD and unbelievably wonderful. Chris` vocals are top notch and the music is well played. Certainly not the fastest song but it shows the talent that band has.
# The Battle Of Bannockburn - Galloping guitar riffs, tight bass playing and more of the Grave Digger singing. A great song to end the story of the Templars...
KNIGHTS OF THE CROSS is definitely a better album than TUNES OF WAR. I`ve heard rumblings around the Internet that it`s not doing as well as it could and I can`t understand that. It`s a brilliant CD with incredible complex melodies and lyrics. The story is fact, not fiction, and the delivery is what I would expect from Grave Digger. I highly recommend this CD. Once again, the band has delivered a CD that I would consider one of the best purchases of the year!
1. Deus Lo Vult
2. Knights Of The Cross
3. Monks Of War
4. Heroes Of This Time
5. Fanatic Assassins
7. The Keeper Of The Holy Grail
10. Over The Sea
11. The Curse Of Jacques
12. The Battle Of Bannockburn
13. Children of the Grave
Manni Schmidt - Guitars
Stefan Arnold - Drums
Chris Boltendahl - Vocals
Jens Becker - Bass
H.P. Katzenberg - Keyboards
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