I sat waiting to start my SATs one fine Saturday morning, and I dug through my bag, only to find Grave Digger’s Heavy Metal Breakdown alongside my number two pencils and calculator. To be honest, the name “Grave Digger” had sort of kept me from listening to the CD before, but my friend insisted I take the it. I put on my headphones and there was an explosion, drums, vocalist Chris Boltendahl growling, and I felt like kicking some ass…or at least getting onto my desk and rocking the air guitar.
The opener to Grave Digger’s debut, Headbanging Man is full of furious drumming from Albert Eckardt, decent guitar riffs and solos from Peter Mason, and of course, the singer, Chris Boltendahl. He does something between a scream and a snarl throughout the entire album. If you don’t like his voice, there’s the rest of the band, which is good and fast, fast, fast, but for me, he makes this album. After Headbanging Man is the title track, Heavy Metal Breakdown, which starts with an average metal riff. This is a salute to metal and all those who love it. The simple chorus rocks, an easy-sing-a-long. The solos on this album, like the rest of the music, are fast. Most of them, like the solo for Heavy Metal Breakdown, fit well into the song. The next song, Back from the War, starts slow with chanting and dark guitar. Boltendahl describes a gory war scene. The tempo speeds up to what we’ve become familiar. The solo has some shredding before breaking out another decent solo and then returning to the chorus.
After Back from the War, Grave Digger brings out a real shocker: keyboards, from Dietmar Dillhardt. Chris Boltendahl sings, sings, “yesterday” at the start of Grave Digger’s ballad, Yesterday. When I first heard this, I had been too used to the rest of the songs on the album, and I couldn’t handle the song. But on a second listen, I realized, it’s not unbearable. The song has a bright spot when Boltendahl shouts “No, no!” This is certainly not my favorite song on the album, but I can understand that the band needed a change of pace, I just can’t fully accept Grave Digger doing anything like a ballad. Luckily for me, the next song starts up with Boltendahl shouting “We wanna rock ya, we wanna roll ya.” And we’re into We Wanna Rock You, another tribute to the metal fans, and the whole concert going experience. It’s a simple anthem song, with more good riffs. Whenever I listen to this CD, I notice the Albert Eckardt’s drumming. I had never heard a band before that had such strong drumming, and it’s something I always enjoy. The next song is the dark Legion of the Lost, which has a haunting, soft guitar intro before going into power chords and finally the devil’s chord before the song picks up tempo. The riff is good, but the song on the whole isn’t that special. Tyrant is another average song, by this time, the heavy riffs have gotten a little repetitive, but the chorus is pretty nice. After that is a Rolling Stones cover, a very metal cover of 2000 Lightyears From Home originally from Their Satanic Majesties Request. I cannot understand a word Boltendahl says, but I love it anyway. Finally, we reach the closer, my favorite song, Heart Attack. This starts with some active drumming, then speed metal guitars at their finest. I love the chorus, which features the same drumming that goes through the whole song, while the guitars pause in between each time Boltendahl screams “Heart attack.” This high adrenaline song is a great end to Grave Digger’s debut album.
I don’t remember how well I did on that SAT, but I’ll tell you, I was pumped when I tore open my packet. With the riffs of Headbanging Man and Heavy Metal Breakdown echoing through my head, I’m pretty sure I snapped a couple pencils through that hellish test.
Back from the War
2000 Lightyears from Home