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Until Dooyoo accept some of my music review suggestions, I'm afraid you are stuck with reviews of Grave Digger albums! Grave Digger are a German metal outfit that started off in typical German speed metal fashion a la Accept but later adopted a power metal sound and started playing with concept albums, often historical in nature.
Excalibur is the band's 9th album released in 1999 and it's one I've been wanting to grab hold of ever since hearing their catchy title tune at a Grave Digger concert recently. If you hadn't already guessed by the name, the album is a concept album revolving around King Arthur.
Excalibur is an awesome track with a nicely distorted opening guitar riff, vocalist Chris Bohtendahl's vocals also have a distorted effect which works and make him sound like some kind of brutal monster. The chorus of "Excalibur, sword of the kings, take me on your wings, back to where I belong" is a metal anthem of epic proportion and makes use of a backing choir wonderfully.
This track is followed up by "Round Table (Forever)" another very catchy song with the band perfecting the mixture of speed and power metal, giving the song great melody and energy, a memorable chorus that compliments the superb musicianship throughout.
The following track is the power ballad "Morgan Le Fay" - again very catchy and quite varied, the chorus "I am the devil in disguise, I bring the evil to your life, listen, listen what I say, I am Morgan Le Fay" suit Bohtendahl's German accented vocals perfectly and give it that enjoyable somewhat not serious Grave Digger feel. Again, an amazing mixture of orchestra and raw metal to create a great sound.
They are the three most memorable tracks on the album but there's plenty to like about this album, "Final War" has a keyboard section which sounds like trumpets going into war, the track is another fine example of perfecting Grave Digger's superb mixture of speed and power metal, traditional fast metal riffs with a chorus that makes you want to sing along but musically rather melodious as well.
I'd say that this album is rather welcoming to people that like this kind of music but have not listened to much Grave Digger, the reason being that Chris Bohltendahl can be a bit of an acquired taste and this album has a deeper growlier feel than some of the other albums which are a bit shrieky. Whilst my wife agrees that his on stage performances are greatly entertaining, she can't stand the voice, so if you are more of a fan of cleaner vocals like Bruce Dickinson and Hansi Kursch then he might not appeal so much. I should probably point out that Hansi Kursch (Blind Guardian) actually does backing vocals on "Excalibur"
After the somewhat weak middle instalment 'Knights of the Cross,' the conclusion of Grave Digger's roughly-defined 'Middle Ages trilogy' is much improved, combining the new power metal elements more satisfyingly with the band's speed metal foundations, boasting a crunchier and heavier production and essentially perfecting the band's sound. The limited range of styles on offer is far from new, each song being more or less directly traceable to the band's past works, but they're all carried off with flair and a newfound maturity.
The album's story chronicles the life of the mythical King Arthur from birth to death, and the music is always fitting to the lyrics, from the explosive opening 'Pendragon' to the great power ballad 'Morgane Le Fay' and heavily orchestral 'Emerald Eyes,' and for the first time the volume of the instruments actually begins to eclipse the more exaggerated vocals of Chris Boltendahl's singing, making this potentially less alienating to newcomers.
1. The Secrets of Merlin
4. The Round Table (Forever)
5. Morgane Le Fay
6. The Spell
7. Tristan's Fate
9. Mordred's Song
10. The Final War
11. Emerald Eyes
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Secrets Of Merlin
4 Round Table (forever)
5 Morgane Le Fay
7 Tristan's Fate
9 Mordred's Song
10 Final War
11 Emerald Eyes