Formed in 1980 and having undergone a breakup in 1987, Germany’s Grave Digger have explored various genres, from hard rock to speed metal and power metal. With the Clash of the Gods (Napalm Records), the band comes across confident and aggressive, fusing the best of the power and thrash metal genres. This time out, the band turns to Greek mythology, weaving an epic tale of heroism and action.
The CD opens with the short “Charon,” with the lyrics setting a grandiose stage of things to come. The band takes an epic approach to the song’s structure, complete with some strange vocal emanations and a haunting guitar tone. All hell breaks loose with the second track, “God of Terror,” which oozes a foundation of power metal driven forward by the harsher genre of speed metal. Out front, as always, are the iron lungs of Chris Boltendahl, which demand attention on each of the tracks.
Following right behind are the rollicking guitar riffs of Axel Ritt, which will have your fingers moving constantly. Not only is Ritt’s guitar a beast, but so are the bass beats of Jens Becker and the drumming antics of Stefan Arnold. Hans Peter “H.P.” Katzenburg’s keyboards give the songs some added (and distinctly electronic) spice, sometimes serving to contrast the guitars.
Although the album demands a single sitting to absorb its essence, there are key standout tracks, such as “Hell Dog” (old-school speed metal with epic flourishes), “Medusa” (haunting buildup to one hell of a scorcher), the title track (Middle-Eastern flair with a slower pace), and “Call of the Sirens” (a true epic ballad with some nice piano interludes).
Longtime fans of power metal will definitely dig the sounds emanating from Clash of the Gods. If you haven’t been keeping up with Grave Digger, now is the time, as these dudes have recaptured the magic of the early years and fused it with the modern sensibilities expected of listeners today.