Grave Digger – The Clans Will Rise Again Review

Grave Digger // The Clans Will Rise Again
Rating: 2.5/5.0 —Half baked clans
Label: Napalm Records
Release Dates: EU: 01.10.2010 | US: 10.12.2010

Nobody, and I mean nobody does epic Scottish war metal better than those crazy Germans in Grave Digger! On their FIFTEENTH album The Clans Will Rise Again, the Diggers revisit territory well covered by 1996’s Tunes of War and we get all new tales of William “Braveheart” Wallace and his efforts to cast off the yoke of English tyranny and oppression. By now most know what to expect from a new Grave Digger platter since these guys are the AC/DC of Germanic metal and there aren’t many big surprises here either. You get some rollicking, guitar-driven, semi-thrash power metal numbers with the unique and harsh warble of sole original member Chris Boltendahl, and few slower power ballads tossed in for atmosphere and such. Although there are significant consistency issues here, if you liked what they were cooking before, you’ll probably like this and if you didn’t, you still won’t.

Grave Digger has always been at their best IMHO when they keep the pedal to the floor and ride the semi-thrash bulldozer into angry town. Wisely, Clans leads off with three textbook examples of the thrashier Digger sound and all work very well, especially “Paid in Blood,” with its fist pumping call to fight for freedom. However, it’s “Highland Farewell” which steals the show due to the cool-as-hell useage of electric bagpipes a la Black 47. Adding greatly to the old school metal fun is Mr. Boltendahl swearing to seek “wengeance” against his enemies. Gets an Angry Metal Chuckle every damn time.

While I prefer the faster Grave Digger stuff, the title track also works well with a grinding, near-doom pace that packs an ominous, dark wallop. Unfortunately, after this fine start, Clans starts to get spotty and bogs down, losing momentum with too many mid-paced droners and a few really squirmy ballads. While you have to love the odd vocal stylings of Mr. Boltendahl, he isn’t well-suited for slower, ballad style songs, since he usually sounds like an angry, psychotic duck. Therefore, tracks like “Whom the Gods Love Die Young,” and especially “When Rain Turns to Blood” really don’t work well and at points become downright silly. Further, the simplistic, corny lyrics are way more apparent on these numbers, which doesn’t help matters any. Further bringing the score down, some of the faster numbers toward the end of Clans are just so-so (“Execution” and especially “Spider”) and lack the conviction heard earlier on the album.  It’s almost like Grave Digger had a  powerhouse Braveheart concept EP all set to go, and then were told by some record label suit that they needed six more songs quickly. The drop in quality and direction is that noticeable.

In a clan-shell, this is one half vintage Grave Digger with some rousing metallic stompers and one half average/below average mood pieces featuring an angry duck.  While Clans is a drop off in quality from their previous two albums, fans will still find some classic Grave Digger moments.  I just wish there was more consistency here to properly celebrate the mighty William Wallace.  FREEDOM!!!

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