Grave Digger

Ballads Of A Hangman

Written by: PP on 21/01/2009 16:15:39

Most power/heavy metal bands tend to sound like identical clones of one another in that all of them have a vocalist who rapes the vibrato style, and useless epic atmospheres that end up sounding way too loose to arouse any interest in anyone who isn't from Germany originally. Not Grave Digger, who on "Ballads Of A Hangman", their God knows how manyeth album in 29 years, have managed to send a warm breeze of fresh air my way through an unusually tight and innovative sound for the heavy metal genre.

After the strange humming intro track that has an immediate pirate vibe to it, we're thrown head first into a ripping heavy metal track with clean vocals that have character. They aren't completely clean, there's that little scratch, a tone of harshness on vocalist Boltendahl's voice that makes it stand out from the midst of the guitar distortion and big soundscapes, that despite being geared towards the 'epic', are still played tightly and intensely, a sign of passion and dedication to their music. The title track continues on the pirate/viking themed pillage the village vibe through its humming and the catchy chorus, whereas a track like "Sorrow Of The Dead" relies on precise, sharp riffing to capture your attention. "Lonely The Innocence Dies" is more of a ballad, featuring the Benedictum front woman Veronica Freeman on backup vocals, but the chorus here is monumental nonetheless.

The remainder of the album sounds like "Sorrow Of The Dead" played in various speeds. Some tracks shred to the point that they almost belong into thrash metal, whereas others merely try to mimic the typical heavy metal atmosphere while still keeping the cracking vocals well in the mix. I'm somewhat sad that the pirate/viking vibe isn't used more than it is on the album because that's where the band was at their very best, because it offered a fresh approach into the stale heavy metal genre. Still, this is a ton better than the majority of power/heavy metal that arrives in our mailbox.

Download: Ballads Of A Hangman
For the fans of: Benedictum, Accept, Judas Priest
Listen: Myspace

Release date 12.01.2009
Napalm Records

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