Review Summary: Straight up professionalism and German power metal is what you'll find here. A respectable addition to the Grave Digger catalog.
Grave Digger's new release, Healed by Metal
, is a solid and correct effort by one of the icons of German Metal. Anyone who knows them will know beforehand what this album may contain; fierce power metal with some hints of speed and classic heavy metal. The hyperactivity of this band in recent years is impressive. Since 1993 they have been releasing records every two or three years, and their latest albums demonstrate that this tradition is far from being lost. This Healed by Metal
is not the exception. In addition, it’s the first album to have keyboardist Marcus Kniep, replacing H.P. Katzenburg. Very few bands can afford to offer the same material and come out victorious anyway. That can be an advantage and disadvantage at the same time. There is no doubt that this will be enjoyed by many, and also the new proposals that appear from time to time in some of their deliveries will not disappoint you at all, but at the same time it can become tiring or disappointing for others, as you can see in the record's overall rating in this site and some user comments. Don’t get me wrong, this record is not bad, but honestly very few innovations we will find on it regarding its predecessor, Return of the Reaper
. We won’t find a pretty ballad like "Nothing to Believe" or some surprise like "Dia de los Muertos" or "Road Rage Killer"; here Grave Digger only proposes to rock, as evidenced by the initial thunderous chorus of the title track. Are you looking for more risky, daring and innovative music? Then don’t bother with this disc.
Now, are you a diehard fan of the digger? Then don’t think twice and get this. The songs are efficient and enjoyable, and also help the fact that the disc lasts 36 minutes. Songs like the title track and "Kill Ritual" contain their traditional heavy style that will satisfy anyone who is looking for energetic and direct music. "Kill Ritual", especially, contains some hints of power metal bands like Helloween and has well-crafted pre-choruses and choruses, a couple of nice riffs (especially the opening one, but I like the one in the chorus too) and a simple guitar solo. The title track, meanwhile, can raise some eyebrows of surprise. Grave Digger trying to sound like Manowar? This may drive some people away of the record; in fact, the first few times I heard this song I thought it was one of the weakest of the track list. My opinion on it has improved with successive listens, though. It’s cheesy, of course, as every metal song about metal is; it has a primitive and cavernous chorus (HEALED BY METAL! WE ROCK!
), but on the positive side it has a good main riff, while the verses are entertaining. Other notable tunes are "Lawbreaker" (an old school heavy metal influenced song, with a sound reminiscent of Judas Priest and a great vocal performance collapsing the house), "When Night Falls" (speed metal at full power with a decent solo in the middle), "Free Forever" (a mid-tempo tune with the band adopting a more melodic side, as you can hear in the main riff and a short acoustic vocal section near the end) and the incredible single "Call for War", filled with furious guitars, a powerful rhythm section and a fantastic crowd anthem chorus. On the other hand, "Ten Commandments of Metal" and "The Hangman’s Eye" are songs that, although not bad, do not contribute much to this work nor the band’s legacy, and can bore a bit for being more of the same. "The Hangman’s Eye" is the better one, as it’s more a thrash influenced tune replete of speedy guitars.
The highlights of this record, though, come in the form of the last two tracks. ''Hallelujah'', a powerful heavy metal discharge, loaded with a strong start (a scream), very nice riffs, a memorable melody in the verses, direct and catchy chorus, interesting lyrics and a brilliant solo, all in three and a half minutes. And last but not least, ''Laughing With the Dead'' the longest song on the album (lasting 5:15), and also the slowest, betting for a more epic and ominous sound without leaving aside the force and rawness of the rest of the songs. It has a dark introduction, a brilliant pre-chorus (In towers of sorrow…
), and a short bass interlude before the decent solo. What a great ending for this record.
In conclusion, Healed by Metal
is a respectable addition to the Grave Digger catalogue. Probably will not go down in history as one of their best, but the German Titans still deliver and fulfill their duties with an album that, although not innovative, is brief, enjoyable and great.