Grave Digger- Return of the Reaper (Napalm)

The Reapers return with some solid as fuck metal.
Release Date: 
10 Jul 2014 - 11:30pm

To move forward into the future, you must come to terms with your past”. It’s a fairly common moral that every other ‘renegade with a dark past’ movie tries to hammer home with all the elegance of a hippo in a tutu. Well, who’da thunk it, those parasitic big-wig Hollywood writers actually got something right for once, or at least in Grave Digger’s case they have. Return of the Reaper sees these German 80s’ icons return to a more aggressive speed metal sound like the one on their earliest releases, with tremendous results.

Now, I must profess to only being slightly familiar with Grave Digger, like I have with a few other Germanic/European power metal bands, I’ve only dug up the old gems and ignored the majority of their other releases. I do know however, that there was something of a dip in the quality of the band’s output over the course of the 2000s’, the last two albums only just managing to get them back on course.

Well the measures the band has taken to get to a more speed metal oriented sound have certainly paid off. The sheer quality of the platter on offer here is frankly astounding. From the opening refrains of Hell Funeral, it’s apparent that the band is playing with a real fire in their bellies. The music on this album is aggressive, bordering on thrash at points and the playing is locked into place tighter than a nun’s proverbial. All of this is cemented by the commanding vocals of Chris Boltendahl. His gravelly delivery may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it calls to mind Accept’s current vocalist Mark Tornillo and is responsible for delivering some truly massive choruses on songs like Tattoo Rider and Road Rage Killer. Personally, I prefer this gravelly style, as it tends to age better than his higher pitched peers.

From start to finish, this album delivers easily the best proper metal I’ve heard in 2014. If I had to nitpick, I’d say the attempt at a soft ballad on final song Nothing to Believe falls flat, but even that song picks up towards the end. Make no mistake; this is the proper metal album to beat in 2014.