It’s a brand new year – a fresh beginning for all of our personal stories and a clean, blank slate for metal music. Now is the time to take risks, to be daring, to innovate. Just kidding, it’s actually time for the 17th goddamn album of monochromatic meat n’ taters metal from the unstoppable Germanic horde called Grave Digger. They’ve been banging out the same basic Accept-style heavy metal since 1984 and though they tweaked their formula slightly over the decades, it’s still the music of the 80s recycled again for 2017. So much for progression, eh? 2014s Return of the Reaper was a decent but unspectacular slab o’ Digger, as are most of their releases if I’m being totally honest. You’ll find no surprises or the slightest whiff of innovation on Healed by Metal either, aside from the Manowar-considered-then-rejected title. This is more of the same fist-pumping festival fare you’ve heard a million times before and will certainly be hearing again. The boys still sound fairly spry for their age and as always, you can imagine these songs going over pretty well live. But is it, as promised, good for what ails you?

Let’s just say I wouldn’t pick a holistic listening session over a trip to the ER. At this point in their lengthy career Grave Digger are writing from a template older than many of our readers, and though it makes for painfully familiar song craft, it still works to some extent. Cuts like “Lawbreaker” and “Free Forever” approximate a merger of Painkiller era Priest with recent U.D.O. material and that’ll always get a little blood pumping in metallic fossils like myself. The same goes for straight-ahead mouth breathers like “Call for War” and “Hallelujah” which put the boot to you without subtlety in classic Teutonic style. Wisely, the band keeps the adrenaline level pretty high throughout, which is when they’re at their troglodyte best.

The standout moment is “Kill Ritual,” which recalls their classic Rheingold platter while mixing in some snappy guitar-work similar to Dawnbringer and High Spirits. The riffing is in-your-face, the solos are out of hand and the song hits like a sucker punch in church. Then there are the quasi-parody cuts like the title track, which is so brain dead and stuck in the 80s even I’m offended by it. It’s dumb without being fun enough to make allowances and it just doesn’t work when that big, sing-along chorus of “healed by metal, we rock!” hits you like a wet halibut. “Ten Commandments of Metal” fares better but it too is so silly it’ll hurt you in the dignity zone.

The remainder of the album flits between generic and average Grave Digger, of which you’ve heard plenty of both by now. The brief 37 minute runtime helps considerably though, as do the short song-lengths, with most running around 3-minutes. Sound-wise, it’s a bit bricky and loud, but you’ve heard worse. You’ve also heard better.

Founder/vocalist Chris Boltendahl is still front and center, rasping and quacking like the AFLAC duck, and though he sounds a bit weak on the title track, for the most part his voice is still as wacky and weird as always. Guitarist Axel “Ironfinger” Ritt throws some decently aggressive old school riffs at you and each song is driven by one of two chest thumping leads. His work on “Kill Ritual” is easily some of his best and if there were more of this quality we might be looking at a pleasantly surprising exhumation, but alas, this is merely a competent but indistinguishable cog in the Grave Digger machine.

After 37 years of metallic rabble rousing, neither time nor tide seem able to silence these grave robbing fiends. Healed by Metal may not be the universal tonic for your ills, but as 80s Germanic metal goes, you can still count on it for a few fun moments of cheesy rancor. Amusingly knuckle-headed, but non-essential.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Napalm Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: January 13th, 2017

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  • So Grave Digger is doing Grave Digger things… sweet

  • antitayyip

    i celebrated this album by listening the last supper

  • Innit Bartender

    Only Jan 5th and yet Band Photo of the Year….

  • Jason

    That video would be right at home on Headbanger’s Ball back in the day, and I kinda like it.

  • gus rodrigues

    this is one of the bands that I never paid much attention (just like Saxon)… is there any album they have released that could change my indifference towards them?

    • I’d say check out their self-titled album, Heavy Metal Breakdown, War Games or Rheingold. Those are the best of their catalog.

      • Daniele Cerin

        I have to strongly contradict you and point out that the trilogy Tunes of war, Knights of the cross and Excalibur are the best by Grave Digger.

        • Wilhelm

          more like excaliboo

        • gus rodrigues

          tks mates! I’ll check out your aggregate suggestions!

          • CarvedInStone

            If you like these three albums check out their comeback album “The Reaper” as well. One of the stronges comebacks in metal ever!

      • gus rodrigues

        loved what I heard in those albums (and in the suggested ones from Daniele). Much, much better than this new release.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      You’re asking for recommendations on Grave Digger, not Saxon, but since you mentioned you never paid much attention to Saxon (hint: you should) check out “Strong Arm of the Law”, “Wheels of Steel” and “Denim and Leather”

      • gus rodrigues

        tks mate!

  • Dethjesta

    Two and a half years between Grave Digger albums? We don’t usually have to wait that long. What have they been up to? Digging practice, I guess.

    • Playing Dig Dug.

    • CarvedInStone

      They released an album of re-recorded versions of their 80s material prior to the split of the original incarnation of the band in 1987. They did that because at the time the 80s Grave Digger albums had been out of print for quite a while and were hard to get. The same reason Sinner recorded and released an album with new versions of their 80s material in 2013.

      However around the same time it was announced that their old label Noise Records (most famous German Metal bands from the 80s started with Noise Records including Helloween, Running Wild, Sinner and Rage) would be reactivated and that there would be re-releases of their back catalogue along with the back catalogues of a lot of other Noise bands as well. Most of these bands gave there okay for these re-releases and even agreed to work together with their old label for these re-releases. But for some reason Grave Digger were not interested and decided to do their own self-cover album anyway.

      • I loved the old Noise era!

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        Kreator was also an early Noise records band. And Celtic Frost.

  • Zach Ward

    The Aflac Comparison was Spot on. +1

    • Mephisto

      He, this is for readers!

    • sir_c

      This band really is the tits!

  • WhamBamSam

    I get my fill of these guys as the seemingly perennial supporting act for Blind Guardian’s US tours.

    ‘Dignity Zone’ would be a decent name for a band.

  • Nola Trash Talk

    Grave Digger, Primal Fear, U.D.O., Sinner, Accept, Running Wild…my favorite style of metal. None of the doom, post, progressive, whatever nonsense that tops everyone’s year end lists.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      More Power to you!

  • Thatguy

    If I thought this was how the new year was going to be I’d cut my ears off and plug the holes with cement.

    I promise I won’t comment on every review you do of crap power metal, SD. This will be my comment on the genre for the year.

    • You don’t complete me.

      • Thatguy

        No. And I lied. I’m going to keep on whining.

        • I didn’t believe you for one second, you crank.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Just make sure to cut and paste that “I promise I won’t comment on every review you do of crap power metal, SD” on every Power Metal review Steel Druhm does.

      • Thatguy

        Perhaps I will.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Great thing about Accept style metal is you can just listen to Accept.

    • Geez, like these guys haven’t had a bad enough day?

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Am I the only one who enjoyed how they recreated the album cover for the band promo picture? Also, am I the only one who found the unicorn girl sexier than the original girl?

  • Iain Gleasure

    Classic Druhm, says Healed by Metal is a weak song, still puts it as impeded track.
    In an elaborate conspiracy, Druhm was revealed to be fighting against Olde metal the whole time!

    • And I would’ve gotten away with it too, if it wasn’t for you meddling readers!

  • Dead1

    Same old Grave Digger. At least they maintain their metallic crunch unlike Rage or Running Wild or fucking Helloween who have become a parody of themselves with the last coupke of plastic shitburgers

    The embedded track channels Manowar too much.

    I always think these albums are “touring enablers”. Most promoters won’t support a tour without a new album.

    In any case at least Accept still knows how to deliver the goods. UDO is there but too derivative in terns of song writing.

  • CarvedInStone

    Is it just me or does Boltendahl’s pronunciation get worse as he gets older?

    • It’s not just you. If you listen to him on War Games and then listen to this it’s like he’s becoming more duck than man.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Awesome how they kinda recreated the album cover for the band promo picture.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Chris Boltendahl’s voice is merely one or two Fisherman’s Friends lozenges away from turning into a Death Metal growl.

  • Caio

    I’m still waiting a Grave Digger’s Yer Metal is Olde