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Aloof and stilted vocals hinder Grave Digger’s assault

Album review: Grave Digger’s ‘Return of the Reaper’

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Grave Digger
Return of the Reaper
Napalm Records
★★ (out of 5 stars)

German power metal doesn’t usually come this grizzly or packed with sinew. This seems mostly to be the doing of guitarist Axel Ritt’s jagged attack. You know what they say – the fifth guitarist is the charm. You probably won’t be thinking about Grave Digger’s lineage when you’re being pummeled by the swaggering likes of “Hell Funeral,” “Grave Desecrator” or “Satan’s Host.” No, you’ll probably be trying to parse the style of vocalist Chris Boltendahl. Is he going for the ghost of Lemmy’s grandfather or more of an injured bridge troll? However you slice it, the guy sounds aloof and stilted, ultimately hindering Grave Digger’s assault. Painful to say, but Gyula Havancsák’s cover art also disappoints. We all pictured the reaper being more central to his return. Tucked behind angry steeds, the reaper fails to impose, and someone should tell him that casket is about to fall out of his wagon.

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