"Return of the Reaper"

By Dr. Abner Mality

The Reaper has indeed returned and just in time! Honestly, the "epic" style of German veterans Grave Digger had gotten tired quite some time ago and they seemed to have realized it themselves. So it's back to the raw, smoking metal of their early days for "Return of the Reaper". It's a kind of sequel to their record "The Reaper" of the early 90's but actually it harkens back all the way to their grand debut album "Heavy Metal Breakdown" that put them on the map in the 80's.

This is the Grave Digger I know and love the best. They leave the keys, the choirs and the overblown aspects of the music behind and blast out with some of that "Accept on speed" sound they pioneered.  There's no over-arching historical or mythological theme...the tunes are self-contained. And they kick ass! "Hell Funeral" lets you know the boys are back in business right away, but the follow up "Wargod" is even better. This is old school Grave Digger with a 21st century production. "Tattooed Rider" has that greasy old Acceptish chug to get your head banging hard. Grizzled vocalist Chris Boltendahl has never sounded rougher or more determined. Tracks like "Resurrection Day" and the awesome "Satan's Host" are high-octane thrashers that just can't be denied. But there's also "Season of the Witch" which does recall their more layered "epic" sound and the album ending ballad "Nothing To Believe", complete with piano. Grave Digger's been doing that kind of material since the beginning and it's a lot easier to take this time because there are so many pure metal killers.

Good to see Chris and the boys have still got this kind of fire in their bellies. "Return of the Reaper" is a very nice return to form for the band!