GRAVE DIGGER “Symbol of Eternity”

By Dr. Abner Mality

GRAVE DIGGER have to be the busiest morticians in the cemeterry. Very few months go by without the German veterans putting their spades in new earth. The latest DIGGER effort is “Symbol of Eternity” and though the general style is about as innovative as a Ric Flair wrestling match, the energy and power make this one of their best records in a while. Once in a while, the band turns out an album where they phone it in, but “Symbol of Eternity” is definitely not that record.

This hits fast and hard from the opening shot. After the de rigeur intro, “Battle Cry” finds GRAVE DIGGER sounding heavy and raring to go. Singer Chris Boltendahl generally delivers the goods, which sometimes he has not always done. But his performance here is rock solid and earthy. Tracks like “Hell Is My Purgatory”, “Holy Warfare” and “King of the Kings” are all fast belters in classic Teutonic style, the kind GRAVE DIGGER has been doing since “Heavy Metal Breakdown” in ‘85. The choruses are all that you’ve heard before, big and bold but also rather too familiar...we’ve heard the like on all of the band’s “historical” albums.

They will occasionally drop the pace to good effect...the title track is on the moody side and I love the crunchy mid-pace on “Sky of Swords” and “The Last Crusade”, the latter of which benefits greatly from strong keyboard accompaniment. Yes, the album is a concept dealing with the Crusades...a rather hoary subject, one which the band itself has already dealt with before. But I don’t mind too much, as few subjects lend themselves to heavy metal more than religious wars featuring sword-swinging knights.

The album wraps up with “Hellas Hellas”, sung entirely in Greek and featuring guest performance from Greek pop star Vasili Papakonstantiou. It puts the finishing touch on one of the best and heaviest GRAVE DIGGER efforts in a while.