Grave Digger
Witch Hunter



by WinterMartyrium1992 USER (28 Reviews)
January 14th, 2018 | 4 replies

Release Date: 1985 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Witches, 80s cheese and burning speed metal.

In the beginning, before Chris Boltendahl invoked the legend of The Reaper, Grave Digger was an unpretentious, straightforward heavy/speed metal group. Back then the band didn’t come with the intentions of offering us their trademark mystical atmospheres and medieval concepts, but kicking as many butts in the shortest time possible. Although Boltendahl himself doesn’t regret this wild and youthful chapter of his metal life — he even has stated in a couple of interviews on the current state of metal that he’d rather go back to the 80s — Grave Digger’s early years are often overlooked by current fans, or are not as well regarded as, for example, the Middle Ages Trilogy, and it’s not hard to see why.

While 1984’s Heavy Metal Breakdown is a well-respected debut and has acquired the cult classic status, the following two records didn’t age very well at all; the cover arts are so old and cheesy, the production is obsolete and raw, the vocals are too wild, and the energy and intensity is just too much. Most importantly, however, is that the musicianship and songwriting weren’t as sophisticated, skillful and well thought out as on some of their later albums like Excalibur or The Grave Digger; most of these songs are way too primitive in construction for everyone’s taste, with the band’s motto clearly being ''More power! More power!'', and the music and lyrics are basically what one would expect from an amateurish, garage speed metal group: catchy and unstoppable riffing, addictive choruses, over-the-top manly attitudes and fierce solos dominate the sound. Clearly a product of its time.

Still, even though it’s very hard to give this a try because of its hideous artwork, Witch Hunter offers a decent amount of energetic moments to make it an appealing record for head-banging metalheads or those who consider themselves 80s metal historians/diehards. Compared to what followed, Grave Digger’s second outing exhibits their most playful, rebel and entertaining side with energetic tunes such as the title track, with its addictive, punchy riffs and an isolated flashy guitar solo, or the equally powerful and fast ''Night Drifter'' with an amusing chorus and hammering drums. The music here borrows many ideas from the likes of Accept, Scorpions and even early Metal Church, with its main heroes being the intense, simply fun guitar work and Chris’ cavernous vocals, as evidenced on the anthemic rocker ''Get Ready for Power'' and ''Love Is a Game'', an emotional power-ballad with an exceptional and soulful performance by Chris.

Considering the context, the album has its fair amount of 80s cheese ('ROCK 'N' ROLL, THE TIME IS RIGHT GET READY FOR POWER!'), and the sloppiness and desire to sound like Accept in songs like ''Fight for Freedom'' or ''Here I Stand'' is very evident as well; however, these elements are definitely part of the album's charm and really make songs such as ''Friends of Mine'' or the hilarious Alice Cooper cover ''School's Out'' worthy of at least a couple of listens. Besides, someone who really likes some violent headbanging from time to time won’t have so much trouble with the cheesiness.

All in all, even though Witch Hunter doesn’t show any symptoms of decay or tiredness, it’s not a surprise that this band’s early incarnation didn’t last that long; ambition and originality aren’t the album’s fortes, as Grave Digger was more focused on replicating what the 80s big names were doing back then. Thus this band’s phase, as stated before, will definitely not be everyone’s cup of coffee or piece of cake, since it may feel a bit generic, dated and with little replay value for some. Nevertheless, those who’re eager to collect every 80s metal album released shouldn’t be afraid to get some early Grave Digger, and if old school heavy metal is your life, this stuff can make your day. It did make some of mine.

Recent reviews by this author
Skeletonwitch Devouring Radiant LightAlterbeast Feast
Sodom Expurse of SodomyTankard Two Faced
Phendrana Sanctum: Sic Transit Gloria MundiDigger (DE) Stronger Than Ever
user ratings (28)

Comments:Add a Comment 
January 14th 2018


My computer crashed so I had to re-write this and the Stronger Than Ever review (coming soon) on my phone and it probably shows.

Also, cover art really blows. No need to repeat it.

January 15th 2018


Grave Digger yes m/
They did get better later on, but still pretty cool.

January 15th 2018


how does this compare to other OSTM like say exhorder

April 22nd 2018


Good review. Cheesiness is for me also an other word for nostalgia because back in the eighties almost anything was over the top and cheesy. But that was part of the game. Those were the years of Manowar and there ain't nothing cheesier. Nice to see this album reviewed. Debut album was ok.

You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile


Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Site Copyright 2005-2023
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy