Grave Digger – “Exhumation – The Early Years” (Napalm Records)
One of the lynch pins of the 80s German heavy metal scene, Grave Digger are still going to this day and poised to release a new album next year. Still with iconic vocalist Chris Boltendahl at the helm, they’ve decided to issue this new compilation, which takes a look back to those early years beyond their debut to albums like “Witch Hunter”, “War Games” and not forgetting the controversial “Stronger Than Ever” – released under their attempted band name Digger – now a rare and highly sought after deleted album! Whilst noting that Grave Digger released “The Best Of The Eighties” compilation back in 1993, “Exhumation….”, while including many of the same tracks, is in fact a complete re-recording of them by today’s Grave Digger. As such classics like ‘Heavy Metal Breakdown’, ‘Shoot Her Down’ and ‘Get Away’ are virtually given a whole new lease of life (and deservedly so given they are still part of the band’s repertoire) right from today’s excellent production quality to how the current band actually play them with their modern sound. Still, don’t be expecting anything tame from the 13 searing tracks herein, as they literally blast out thanks to the raw n loud guitars and the steaming drum work. Whilst Boltendahl’s voice as deepened over the years, it hasn’t detracted whatsoever from either his performance here or its suitability to this older material, attesting to the fact that Grave Digger is still Grave Digger – old or new! I thoroughly enjoyed this new take on the band’s classic recordings and thanks to their searing performance it’s as close to a live-in-the-studio release as you’ll ever get, making for an excellent and valued taster of what is to come in 2016!