Released: 2012, Napalm Records
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Grave Digger albums are like those ominous holes themselves – give it long enough and another one is going to appear. Made in Germany, the band have been a powerhouse of speed/power metal since 1980, and with Clash Of The Gods their 16th studio full-length, the family plot is starting to look mighty crowded.
What can be said that hasn’t already been about Grave Digger? It’s no joke that essentially every album they release comes labelled with ‘this is standard Grave Digger fare’ – you know what Clash Of The Gods isn’t going to upset this tea party.
The band seem to have gone back to their conceptual ways with an album based around Greek mythology that feels more epic, but without sacrificing the riffs and old school heavy that has long defined their sound. ‘God Of Terror’ is a bracing fist-pumper, but then in come the so-very modern synths – it’s a slightly odd taste but when the guitars pitch up as well it becomes far easier to go along with. ‘Medusa’ has a more mysterious air about it, but doesn’t take long to notch up to easy-nodding tempo.
The term pirate metal probably wasn’t around when Grave Digger first started shovelling dirt, but that’s what ‘Hell Dog sounds a lot like, as does ‘Home At Last’ with its rousing, yet simple, chorus. ‘Walls Of Sorrow’ has a pretty little melodic chorus, which actually works without discomfort against the far more aggressive verses and finger-swelling solos. The real ballad of the piece is ‘Call Of The Sirens’, with its slow and measured pace, and cleaner vocals which don’t seem so out of Chris Boltendahl’s range, but as always it’s the raspier sounds where he sounds at his best.
Title track ‘Clash Of The Gods’ toys with a kind of Metallica sound, albeit with a more exotic guitar tone, before powering up, but it’s ‘Death Angel And The Grave Digger’ that steals the show with its thrashier riffs and let’s-get-live chorus. As a body of work, the Greek theme doesn’t derail the action but equally Clash Of The Gods probably won’t knock you dead within the context of the band’s whole back catalogue.
If Grave Digger continue along their meticulously tendered path, I’d say it’ll be a long time still before anyone digs a permanent grave for this band. If they ever do meet their reaper though, don’t get any ideas about dancing on their grave, they strike me as the kind of guys who might go for your ankles.
Review by Kirsty Birkett-Stubbs