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Heart Of Darkness
Released: 1995, Gun Records
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 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 websites 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!
Now in their second decade as a band and a few years comfortably into their second era, Grave Digger show the world (or at least the very few people still paying attention to traditional Metal in 1995) that the comeback album THE REAPER and new direction was no fluke.
At this point it seems the band started to solidify their image using Andreas Marshall to draw their now iconic 'Reaper' mascot who would grace pretty much every Grave Digger for the next 20 years. This grim looking cover art has our Grim Reaper hero with a violin evoking the similar mascot of Mekong Delta. Marshall would draw several Grave Digger album covers over the following years establishing a strong image.
Grave Digger were still plagued by 'Spinal Tap syndrome, introducing their fourth drummer in four albums but the writing core of Boltendahl and Lulis remains intact and the band settling in for a long productive run on Gun Records. Lyrically the band is quite dark on this album, likely being the heaviest, darkest album to date. In my mind the centerpiece of the album is the title track.
Lyrically and musically inspired by the film Apocalypse Now (originally titled Heart Of Darkness) the song is a 12 minute opus and I believe the first time the band used a choir. It was at that point the bands longest song and still remains, as of time of writing in the fall of 2014, the bands longest song. It was very atypical for them as generally the band writing stays in a more conventional 3-6 minute range. It is a dark and somber song that opens with helicopter sound effects to match the theme and tone of the story of the Vietnam War. It was an experiment that they never returned too. The rest of the songs are more traditional Grave Digger compositions, fast, thick walls of guitars and Boltendahl’s guttural voice leading the charge. Highlights include ‘Warchild’ with a neat introduction, and relentless and raging song ‘Hate’. In terms of production it has that great mid-90’s Germanic stomping sound much like Accept, Running Wild, Rage and other contemporaries.
In my mind HEART OF DARKNESS, while very strong, has been overshadowed by some of their more well-known albums over the years. Many people use the term under-rated, and I'm not even sure that is the case as much as the album is overlooked, now almost two decades old and buried in the middle of the bands massive catalogue. It’s a rock solid album.
1. Tears of Madness
3. The Grave Dancer
4. Demon's Day
6. Heart of Darkness
8. Circle of Witches
9. Black Death
Chris Boltendahl Vocals
Frank Ullrich Drums
Tomi Göttlich Bass
Uwe Lulis Guitar
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