Grave Digger – “Healed By Metal” (Napalm Records)
Grave Digger’s Chris Boltendahl may not be an internationally recognized name but in his native Germany he’s a veritable legend and its easy to see why – now aged 55 he’s still hammering away at traditional heavy metal – and on this 18th release has amazingly delivered the band’s heaviest release in many a year! Honestly, you’d think that Boltendahl would want to mellow out in middle age, but hell no, “Healed By Metal” just strips it back to the essentials of heavy but catchy riffs, pounding rhythm, epic singalong choruses and wild ass soloing – essentially headbanger heaven! Already visualizing his future as a rocker at 12, actually becoming one at 18 and still with his band 36 years on, Boltendahl has cranked everything up here on these 10 blistering tracks from ‘When Night Falls’ to ‘Call For War’ and wait for it – ‘Ten Commandments Of Metal’ (and he really has 10 of ’em!)!! With a rough n ready voice amply suited to the abrasive guitar of Axel Ritt who still maintains his dexterity – just check out the neo classical soloing on ‘Hallelujah’ – and the hammering rhythm of Jens Becker’s heavy ass bass and the pounding drums of Stefan Arnold, if there are any keyboards I can’t hear them above the roar! Influenced by Judas Priest in their early days, Boltendahl and his boys are doing in searing style what those guys should be doing and with even more energy! Easily the best Grave Digger album I’ve heard in ages with its excellent compositions and sharp performances, you know with “Healed By Metal” that heavy metal will never die – and neither will the legend of Chris Boltendahl!