GRAVE DIGGER is one of the premier German bands that received worldwide recognition back in the 90’s when they released a series of solid teutonic metal albums. And while this particular genre doesn’t enjoy the same amount of popularity outside Germany, G.D. couldn’t care less and they continue to fuel their metal steam engine with albums every two or three years.
It would be natural to speculate that a band that has been around for 40 years, doesn’t have the same amount of inspiration when it comes to songwriting. In most of these bands when it comes to composing the driving force is mainly experience not epiphany, something which I find natural. Therefore though the band has been constantly releasing albums, none of their recent albums has managed to captivate their earlier caliber.
Enter “The Living Dead”, the band’s 19th studio album (including the Digger album) only a year and a half after the mediocre “Healed by Metal” and the third addiction in a series of more horror themed album (instead of Medieval ones). Truth to be told, there is hasn’t been much improvement when it comes to songwriting since the band continues the same pattern. Typical ACCEPT-ish German metal with anthemic choruses, solid drum and bass and heavy guitars. A facile listening might impress the listener but there is more to this: Though there is a constant bluntness throughout the album there is also little deviation from mediocrity.
Most of the songs leverage the same ingredients that made the band famous, which is OK with me when it’s done nicely, but here, there is obvious sloppiness: Apart from two or three songs (“Blade of the Immortal”, “When Death Passes By” and “What War Left Behind”) which are the quite interesting all the other recycle the same riffs, vocal lines and choruses giving the listener an impression of a déjà vu (oh dear haven’t I heard that before?).
And while GRAVE DIGGER made a career out of recycling the same ideas in this one it’s not done properly: listen to “Fear of the living dead” or “Insane pain” or “Hymn of The Damned” and ask yourselves whether you’ve heard the riffs before in far better utilization. It sounds to me as if G.D. picked up the most generic riffs from their career and stirred them (adding a full dose on uninspired lyrics) in another album.
What’s more the lyrics in some songs budge toward ridiculousness and don’t get me wrong Boltendahl was never a profound lyricist but songs like “Power of Metal” or “Zombie Dance” serve purposes that are beyond me. Moreover most of the vocals sound both dispassionately and standardized as if Boltendahl sings as he is expected to do so.
To sum up I’d say that this is another addiction to a long line of mediocre albums. Truth to be told, GRAVE DIGGER can do better, they have proven it before and I’m pretty sure they will do it again. I don’t know what are their contract obligations but releasing uninspired albums surely is not what this band is about. Maybe next time, until then i’ll stick to their good moments…