Grave Digger
Symbol of Eternity

Label: ROAR! Rock of Angels Records
Three similar bands: Rebellion/Running Wild/Rage

Rating: HHHHHHH (3/7)
Reviewer: Daniel Källmalm
1. The Siege of Akkon
2. Battle Cry
3. Hell is my Purgatory
4. King of the Kings
5. Symbol of Eternity
6. Saladin
7. Nights of Jerusalem
8. Heart of a Warrior
9. Grace of God
10. Sky of Swords
11. Holy Warfare
12. The Last Crusade
13. Hellas Hellas

Chris Boltendahl - Vocals
Axel Ritt - Guitars
Jens Becker - Bass
Marcus Kniep - Drums

Heavy Metal Breakdown (1984)
Witch Hunter (1985)
War Games (1986)
Stronger Than Ever (1986) (as Digger)
The Reaper (1993)
Heart of Darkness (1995)
Tunes of War (1996)
Knights of the Cross (1998)
Excalibur (1999)
The Grave Digger (2001)
Rheingold (2003)
The Last Supper (2005)
Liberty or Death (2007)
Ballads of a Hangman (2009)
The Clans Will Rise Again (2010)
Clash of the Gods (2012)
Return of the Reaper (2014)
Healed by Metal (2017)
The Living Dead (2018)
Fields of Blood (2020)


Produced by Chris Boltendahl & Axel Ritt
Mixed and mastered by Chris Boltendahl at Graveyard Studios / Cologne
Guitars, bass and drums recorded at Meadow Studios / Babenhausen by Axel Ritt
Vocals recorded at Graveyard Studios / Cologne
All songs composed and arranged by Boltendahl & Ritt except “The Siege of Akkon” composed by Marcus Kniep and “The Last Crusade”, composed by Axel Ritt & Jens Becker
All lyrics written by Chris Boltendahl
Keyboards played by Marcus Kniep
Cover and booklet paintings by Uwe Jarling
Cover concept by Chris Boltendahl
Photos by Jens Howorka @ Blendfabrik Düsseldorf
Booklet Layout by Wanderley Perna

Released 2022-08-26
Reviewed 2022-12-10


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Grave Digger is one of those bands that shouldn’t need an introduction considering that they have been around since the eighties and are considered one of the prime German power metal entities. This time they seem to take on the myth of the holy grail, at least judging by the artwork and lyrics in the title track. It was a while since I heard something new by Grave Digger, a band I discovered at the end of the previous Millennium with their album Excalibur that was great, I have a few gems by this band in my album collection, but those were all released a while ago, so let’s see what they have accomplished this time. The label seems to think it is something marvellous considering that unlike most albums I get from them this wasn’t downloadable before release day, hence the late review. And they seem to market it quite a lot, at least when I look at the mails I get – so, is it any good?

Fairly familiar with Boltendahl’s characteristic hoarse voice, even though he might be singing better now than last time I heard him. I am not sure that is a good thing, that voice is a part of the identity of the band. Musically they are also much like earlier material with catchy songs, epic themes, things like that. Powerful, really strong production on this album, the variation is a bit small though. At fifty minutes it is also a rather long album, without much effort they should have been able to cut away some of those minutes without it taking away anything of substance from the album. And when going through this album for the twentieth time or so, I also think that they have gone in a more commercial and mainstream direction compared with what I heard last, this album sounds rather generic in terms of songs and styles.

I feel like throwing up when I hear songs like Hell is My Purgatory, so repetitive with a chorus that has the intention of being catchy but sounds bad from the first time I hear it, and it doesn’t get better with time. And there are other examples like it, I am quite fed up with this album after the first four or five tracks and then it still just goes on. It feels like a worse version of what I remembered them as, maybe my memory is flawed, memories usually are, but it doesn’t sound good so perhaps I should leave the older albums be and just imagine that they are good. Too bad with such a great looking cover. But this album is generic, repetitive, even the solos are excruciatingly repetitive and sometimes it just feels like the will to live is drained from my body – until I remember that I can always listen to something different, and that is what I do.

So, what happened to the band that released amazing stuff like Tunes of War, Excalibur, The Grave Digger, to name a few great ones? Or were they never that great? After listening to this album I am not sure that I want to play them again to find out. In the end this feels kind of like those awful superhero movies that overflow the movie theatres; tired and uninspired. Perhaps this band has past their sell-by-date, because this was a tired, albeit well-produced album. Perhaps retirement would be a good choice?