GRAVE DIGGER – Excalibur

  • 9.5/10
    GRAVE DIGGER - Excalibur - 9.5/10


Nuclear Blast
Release Date: September 6, 1999

User Review
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For over twenty-five years, Grave Digger has been layin’ down some of the purest Power Metal around. Although this band has had its fair share of members over the years, they’ve still managed to put out – if not excellent – solid releases that are sure to have your fist pumping. Grave Digger is a band that knows its strengths. Heavy guitars and concept based lyrics have served them and their fans extremely well over the years.

With Excalibur, the band attempts to tell the story of King Arthur, some of his antagonists, the Knights of the Round Table, and (of course) Excalibur itself. Referred to as a Metal opus in twelve chapters, there’s no shortage of greatness here. Chris Boltendahl, the band leader and mastermind behind Excalibur, isn’t known for being a crooner. If you pick this one up, don’t expect singing in the vein of Dickinson, Halford, or Tate. Boltendahl has a very gruff style that some have been quick to dismiss as silly, but this shouldn’t detract Metal fans in the least. Once you’ve given the album a few spins, you’ll realize that his somewhat outlandish style is extremely fun to listen to. There are plenty of instances where Chris exudes intensity and ferocity. Does he sound different? There’s no doubt about that, but at the very least, he deserves credit for putting a tremendous amount of heart into his work.

Once you begin to understand what’s being sung, the lyrics reveal their character. They’re sure to have you singing along and thinking about days of old. The guitar playing complements the vocals extremely well. Uwe Lulis turns in some truly excellent performances on this album. Tracks like “Morgane Le Fay” and “The Spell” show much versatility on his part. These same tracks also make for an interesting contrast between heavy riffing and lighter tones. If you like your guitars played loud and fast, look no further, as Lulis inundates the listener with speed and superb solos throughout. “The Round Table (Forever)” is perhaps the best example of the guitar playing that Lulis has come to be known for.

Excalibur was produced by Boltendahl and Lulis, and production values are quite good. It’s clear that the talents of these two extend far beyond singing and guitar playing, as all instruments and vocals sound crisp and clear for the duration of the album. It would be unfair to single out Chris and Uwe, as all of the playing on this album is top notch. The rhythm duo of Stefan Arnold on drums and Jens Becker on bass shows no shortage of skillful playing. On the keys, H.P. Katzenburg adds plenty of depth; this is particularly true on the “softest” song on the album: “Emerald Eyes”.

If you’re a fan of theme based Metal with solid musicianship, you’d be wise to pick up Excalibur. The pace never really slows on this album and every track is strong. It’s a raucous ride of mythic proportions that’ll surely conjure up images of Arthur and all the mystique that surrounds his tale!

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