“The Last Supper” by Grave Digger

Artist: Grave Digger
Title: “The Last Supper”
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Release Date: 01/17/2005
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 4/5

For over twenty years Grave Digger has been giving the world interesting traditional sounding Heavy Metal and doing it by presenting each album as a particular focus. For instance with “Tales Of War” they focused on the history of battle from past to present and with “Knights Of The Cross” they delivered epics based upon the mysteries of the Knights Templar. With “The Last Supper” they continue the process and while there are a number of songs based around the life of Jesus Christ, the band maintains that this is not a concept album at all. Given the subject matter one might envision something along the lines of Stryper where the band is offering up praise with each and every lyric but instead Chris Boltendahl and company deliver more tales from the time as opposed to preachy messages and subtext. The album opens with the flourish of “Passion” before it hits you with a fist to the air track in “The Last Supper”, where Jesus is dealing with his betrayal by Judas. “Desert Rose” hits you like a train that cannot find the brakes and thunders steadily with the double bass drumming of Stefan Arnold and “Grave In The No Man’s Land” brings the pace down to a steady head banging crunch and each of these deal with topics outside of the main theme but there is a slight reference to faith and redemption tossed in. Musically this album shows itself to be strong as soon as it begins and Grave Digger are surely one of the best at keeping the sound of Metal true to its roots and many “Old School” fans will easily find that appealing in today’s rapidly shifting musical terrain. Melody and substance are the main focus with Grave Digger it seems and while everyone shows that they can play, there is no show boating or blistering speed duals going on as opposed to the delivery of a solid and memorable Metal tune. Chris’ voice is one of the more interesting in the genre because he is a bit of a gravelly voiced musician and does not hit soaring high notes, and yes with the riffing of guitarist Manni Schmidt (formerly of Rage) it seems to work out rather well. Fans of bands like Iron Maiden, Accept and old Judas Priest would definitely enjoy the output from Grave Digger.

The main theme is visited again during the tracks “Soul Savior”, “Crucified”, “Divided Cross”, and “Always And Eternally” and since each is rather unique in its story its best to line them out individually. I liked “Soul Savior” quite a bit as it had this audience sing along feel to it and to me seemed like Christ was speaking to his followers and what he offered them. “Crucified” is rather self explanatory and finds us in the mind of Jesus as he looks back on the recent events that led him to his pending execution at the hands of the same people he sought to save. Lyrically it is rather powerful, very well written and could come off to many as one of the better tracks on the release in terms of the flowing power ballad vibe it has to it. On songs like “Divided Cross” and “Always And Eternally” we essentially deal with the opinions and views of the people who lived during the time of the main story on the album. “Beach Widows” is a totally different theme and a pounding track as well. Grave Digger surely has no problems crafting a tasty Metal gem and with Chris’ voice being so unique he gives hope to those of us who are not the Dickinson’s and Tate’s of the world and shows that you can be a regular guy and successfully front a powerhouse Metal band. I really liked this one and felt that the band broke even more new ground by taking a largely religious theme and delivering it in a non-preaching manner that allows fans of all belief structures to enjoy the album safely.

Track Listing:
1. Passion
2. The Last Supper
3. Desert Rose
4. Grave In The No Man’s Land
5. Hell To Pay
6. Soul Savior
7. Crucified
8. Divided Cross
9. The Night Before
10. Beach Widows
11. Hundred Days
12. Always And Eternally

Official Web site: www.grave-digger.de

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