Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Watery Tarts handing Out Swords Is No Bases For A System Of Government.

Grave Digger is a German power metal band from Germany ... (cough,cough) who have helped carve a niche for power metal through the eighties. They have released a number of solid albums over the years and today I'll explore the 3rd album of a middle ages trilogy. I've included this album in my fantasy/sci-fi theme cause it's a concept album based on the Arthurian legend. Real? Fake? who knows, but it's a time tested story that still fascinates to this day and what better way to revisit the legend of Camelot than through power metal!

The album is "Excalibur" and of the 3, it is my favourite. The songs are memorable and catchy, and though it's a concept album the songs stand strong on their own. I've decided to review this album because like my trend seems to be, it's the first album I've bought of theirs (also the fantasy theme I've got going). "Excalibur" starts off with the standard concept album, orchestral intro "The Secrets Of Merlin" which is melodic and celticy. What I like about Grave Digger is that although they have the standard intro, they throw in guitars to give it the power metal feel. This lets us know that although the concept is mystical/magical ... fantasy(?) ... it's still a heavy metal album. The intro ends with a Dragon like roar which is suitable for the fist pounding 2nd track "Pendragon". This is fast melodic power metal with wailing solos and thrashy riffwork. The celticy/atmospheric bridge is a nice touch and keeps the legendary feel of the album.

"Excalibur", "The Round Table (Forever)", and "The Final War" as well are fine power metal tunes in the vein of "Pendragon". Fast and furious with touches of folky/celticness to keep the mood. "Tristan's Fate", "Lancelot" and "Mordred's Song" are also anthemic and fast with "Mordred ..." being a touch darker. These tracks are good, but are not AS memorable. The album's closer, "Avalon" has a nice acousticy melodic intro with a folk style chorus and sums the album up nicely.

The stand out tracks are numerous. "Morgan Le Fay" and "The Spell" are freakin' heavy and passionate. "Morgan..." starts off sweet, then gets crunchy with some wailing soloing, a dark edge as well. "The Spell" is mid paced, with a chunky chorus guitar work. Chris Boltendahl uses cleaner vocals here with his usually gruff styling (grindcore in intensity) for the chorus, a beautiful blend.

My favourite track (which is tough, "Morgan Le Fay" is a great song") is "Emerald Eyes". This is song is a ballad, but has crushing intensity with a heavy chorus. It's a song sung by Arthur on his deathbed of his love for Guinevere and of his forgiveness of all she has done. The song just reeks of emotion and is downright heart wrenching. Chris sings in his gruff style (as Arthur) over folk like orchestrations, the mix is stirring. You can feel the utter desperation in his voice as it breaks with each word he speaks. Absolutely brilliant. The chorus gets heavy with guitars and we are reminded that though Arthur is the legendary High King of Britain, he too was just a man, fragile.

I don't own a lot of Grave Digger's collection, but I feel this album is a career high. A wonderful blend of power metal, celtic stylings and a damned good story. I plan one fantasy style metal album before branching out to different stuff... up next is Sacred Steel's "Bloodlust" .... then .... well I think you'll be pleasantly surprised ...


Blogger anonymous jones said...

This is an interesting theme you are doing with your reviews. Now I know what happened to all those Dungeons and Dragons individuals.

But the legend does not have Arthur on his deathbed with Guinevere around (as in your fave song, Emerald Eyes). He spent his last moments on earth in the presence of Sir Bedivere in a chapel near the battlefield of Lyonnesse. His wound was deep and before he 'died' instructed Sir Bedivere to chuck Excalibur "far into middle mere" ie the lake, for the Lady of the Lake to take, in the hope that he, Arthur, would come again as Merlin swore he would. But he did not actually die in the chapel, Sir Bedivere took him to the lake after he had thrown in the sword (finally) and King Arthur was placed in a barge that was minded by three Queens all dressed in black . So ended the round table, Camelot etc etc and Arthur sailed off to the island valley of Avilion (Avalon) where everything is happy and peppy and where he would no doubt run into Frodo as well.

Just thought I'd be pedantic about the details!

7:39 PM  
Blogger Chana said...

good to back and see that you are still writting great posts.

hope the family has been well. awesome and funny answer in yesterday's useless question..good job as usual..you had me in stitches..

enjoy your day. take care.

10:31 AM  

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