LP review GRAVE DIGGER ‘Heavy Metal Breakdown’ & Witch Hunter’ – re-issues

It was just a matter of time before also some Grave Digger albums would be re-issued under the header of ‘Noise lebt!’. The German metal pioneers from Gladbeck started their career in metal in 1980 and it was Noise Records that was their first label.

After having released two demos it was Noise Records that signed this ambitious new metal band and it was in 1984 when the guys premiered with ‘Heavy Metal Breakdown’.

 

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‘Heavy Metal Breakdown’ features nine songs of which some became real classics. The title song is still part of a Grave Digger live show and belongs to the timeless smashers when it comes to German metal. The album also includes with ‘Yesterday’ a ballad that’s rather unusual and doesn’t fit entirely into the context of the album. Grave Digger are best when pushing the pedal to the metal. ‘Headbanging Man’ and ‘Heart Attack” are two of these moments of raw and unpolished Teutonic metal. Furthermore it’s a heavy version of ‘2000 Light Years From Home’, originally by the Rolling Stones, that is turned into a metal headbanger. Grave Digger sounds on the debut like the mean little brother of bands like Accept – unpolished and wild. In case you’re still missing this album, now it’s time to close the gap.

 

Tracklist:

1. Headbanging Man
2. Heavy Metal Breakdown
3. Back From The War
4. Yesterday
5. We Wanna Rock You
6. Legion Of The Lost
7. Tyrant
8. 2000 Lightyears From Home
9. Heart Attack
10. Shoot Her Down!
11. We Wanna Rock You (Mega Mix)
12. Storming The Brain
13. Violence
14. 2000 Lightyears From Home (Alternative Version)

 

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It’s the title track that starts Grave Digger’s second album. ‘Witch Hunter’ shows a continuation of what the band initiated a year earlier. The second album keeps the raw metal sound of the debut but shows some development too. Speed attacks like ‘Night Drifter’ and ‘Get Away’ present the band at best and even the power ballad ‘Love is a Game’ is a good song. Of course, nowadays these kind of songs might give you a bit of a smile in your face, but things need to be seen in the context of time. The first half of the 80’s was an era when bands started to grow and it’s the partly presented imperfection that gives many of these releases some extra charm.

The only songs that doesn’t fit on the album is Alice Cooper’s ‘School’s Out’. What worked  quite well with the Rolling Stones cover on the debut doesn’t sound like a success on ‘Witch Hunter’. ‘School’s Out’ is one of Alice Cooper’s biggest hits and the Grave Digger interpretation doesn’t even get close to the original.

Anyhow, ‘Heavy Metal Breakdown’ and ‘Witch Hunter’ are two essential albums in German metal and the fact that Grave Digger is still around shows the quality and relevance of Chris Boltendahl and Co. over the last 38 years; with the exception of the Digger album – but that’s another story.

 

Tracklist:

1. Witch Hunter
2. Night Drifter
3. Get Ready For Power
4. Love Is A Game
5. Get Away
6. Fight For Freedom
7. School’s Out
8. Friends Of Mine
9. Here I Stand
10. Don’t Kill The Children
11. Tears Of Blood
12. Shine on

 

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