Grave Digger - Rheingold

Year of Release: 2003
Label: Nuclear Blast
Catalog Number: 1046
Format: CD
Total Time: 44:05:00

At its core, the new Grave Digger album Rheingold could be compared to Blind Guardian's Nightfall In Middle-Earth with a conceptual theme dealing not with The Lord of the Rings, but, in fact, The Ring of the Nibelungs (Der Ring Der Nibelungen). Richard Wagner's 19th Century piece coming to a metal store near you courtesy of Grave Digger.

Whilst Grave Digger isn't averse to releasing concept albums, I did wonder how their brand of true, dark metal would go with a concept such as this and in my opinion they've created a fairly ominous monster with a soft heart. For those unfamiliar with the story, GD have seen fit to include some very descriptive lyrics to go with the songs as well as written story-interludes on the CD sleeve ? it's a really clever idea for the "story" elements that weren't able to be turned into tracks.

Firstly, I should mention that they've managed to keep the same line-up as the excellent The Grave Digger album. And we should begin by including the melodic rough vocal style of Chris Boltendahl. There's not many like him and he adds a hostility to his voice that fits the oft-harsh music perfectly. Manni Schmidt (ex-Rage) is the guitarist but his work is not as powerful or big as it was on the last album. It's still a powerful album, no doubt, but with underdone solos. There's not as much excitement in this important element of a heavy metal album. Stefan Arnold (d) should be commended for his well executed [Hah-Hah! ? Ed (PPO)] drumming performance. It's not as traditional as the other elements of this album although the straighter the song, the straighter his performance ("Liar"). I found some of the choral arrangements to be somewhat lacking (exciting, yes, repetitive, yes, too). The track "Giants" reveals a Helloween angle to their music (as well as in title) whilst "Maidens Of War" and "Twilight Of The Gods" are the most disparate tracks from the album. Overall though, this is missing the death and darkness of previous escapades. There's the odd bland song, "Sword" and "Dungeon" for instance, with their traditionally habitual choruses but with nice driving repetitive riffs running through them.

It's all very true-metal based and has old-school leanings, but by the end I found it neither as dark nor sinister as past albums. There's also a little too much traditional dungeons and dragons type songs in here with songs like "Dragon," "Valhalla," and "Twilight Of The Gods," which have all been done to dragon death. Certainly Grave Digger put their evil spin on these themes and the themes are central to the story itself, but it's all a little too familiar. Rheingold also doesn't feel as aggressive or as personal as past albums; another element so different from their previous discs. That said, the way it is written, the way it all comes together, and the building of the story all add up to an interesting, heavy metal mix that will attract new and old listeners alike.

The truth of the matter is, if you're a fan of Grave Digger and other like-minded German metal bands like Blind Guardian, Running Wild, or Sinner, then you're going to have a lot of fun with this album. It's not their best album, but it is still a solid metal album with plenty of classic GD songs.

Similar To: Blind Guardian, Running Wild, Accept

[This review originally appeared June 2003 at the ProgPower Online review site -ed.]

The Ring (1:48) / Rheingold (4:01) / Valhalla (3:48) / Giants (4:37) / Maidens Of War (5:48) / Sword (5:02) / Dragon (4:07) / Liar (2:46) / Murderer (5:37) / Twilight Of The Gods (7:21) / Japanese Bonus Tracks: Goodbye (4:20) / No Quarter (6:55) / North America Bonus Tracks: Hero (6:34) / Goodbye (4:18) (total time w/bonus: 66:12)

Stefan Arnold - drums
Jens Becker - bass
Chris Boltendhal - vocals
Hans Peter Katzenburg - keyboards, arrangements
Manni Schmidt - guitar


Hacky Hackmann - background vocals
Virtual Symphonic Orchestra

Heavy Metal Breakdown (1984)
Shoot Her Down (ep) (1984)
Witch Hunter (1985)
War Games (1986)
Stranger Than Ever (1987)
The Reaper (1993)
The Best Of The Eighties (1993)
Symphony Of Death (1994)
Heart Of Darkness (1995)
Tunes Of War (1996)
In The Dark Of The Sun (ep) (1997)
Knights Of The Cross (1998)
Excalibur (2000)
The Grave Digger (2001)
Tunes Of Wacken - Live (2002)
Die Definitive Biografie (2002)
The Middle Ages Trilogy (2002)
The History - Part One (2002)
Masterpieces - Best Of Album (2002)
Rheingold (2003)
Lost Tunes From The Vault (2003)
The Last Supper (2005)
25 To Live (2005)
Yesterday (ep) (2006)
Liberty Or Death (2007)
Pray (ep) (2008)
Ballads Of A Hangman (2009)
The Clans Will Rise Again (2010)
The Clans Are Still Marching (2011)
Clash Of The Gods (2012)
Return Of The Reaper (2014)
Exhumation - The Early Years (2015)
Healed By Metal (2017)
The Living Dead (2018)

Tunes Of Wacken (DVD) (2002)
25 To Live (DVD) (2005)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin DE

Added: December 19th 2004
Reviewer: Gary Carson
Artist website:
Hits: 1902
Language: english


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