Grave Digger - Rheingold
Nuclear Blast
Heavy Metal
10 songs (45'02)
Release year: 2003
Grave Digger, Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Danny
Album of the year

There is no doubt Chris Boltendahl took unconsidered risk when he fired Uwe Lulis. After the famous trilogy - the band seems so united, their music was ideal, a first-class heavy metal band - the fans were really shocked to see Mr. Riff (Uwe Lulis) "ejected" from the team. The band parted way again ...

Chris decided to search for another guitarist, he needed another "genius". You know, it was not easy to replace Uwe Lulis like this, believe me. He asked Manni Schmidt to join Grave Digger, to come back to the metal scene as the guy was out of circuit since a long time. Manni hesitated, thought a long time and finally accept the offer of Chris : The Grave Digger album so the light. Where The Grave Digger highlighted the potential of the band, Rheingold represents the best facet of Manni Schmidt so far as the talent of this guitarist is finally unleashed. This record will blow out your head, your brain, your ears !!!

As far as I am concerned, Trapped is one of the best Rage's albums. Yeah, you know what I mean : the guy behind the guitar at that time was ... Manni Schmidt. The number of "exploding" riff on Trapped .... are back here my friends, back on Rheingold. Yes it was a risky bet to fired Uwe : when I remember today Chris saying "Grave Digger turns in circle" just after Excalibur, I didn't understand his view. Believe me after the first spin of Rheingold, you will empathize Chris decision. I was a little bit "disappointed" with The Grave Digger album - I say a little bit ! Here, there is no doubt : Grave Digger rules, Grave Digger resuscitate the sharp German heavy metal sound of the 80's ... Grave Digger is simply the best German heavy metal band.

Now, let me introduce you Rheingold, the CD that doesn't leave my player ... the CD scorching my player should I say.

The Ring : That's the intro. A Wagner intro ... the classic music composer of course :)

Rheingold : A razor blade riff coming directly from ... the past. Fast rhythm, nice bridge, a "Wagnerian" chorus : welcome back to the Heavy Metal Breakdown album. The gear of the rhythm changes a lot : very impressive. The guitar solo at the end of the song is a pure jewel. The perfect song to start with.

Valhalla : No comparison with Blind Guardian's song. Grave Digger's version is symphonic, fast and the chorus of the song enters in no time in your brain and hunts you all day long. This one will be a killer on stage. Vaaaaalhala, Vaaaaalhala, Vaaaaalhala !!! What a guitar riff again. Manni Schmidt is really back. Like it was the case on first track, there is this Accept touch, something from the Restless And Wild album running here. What a drum sound by the way ... the production is enormous.

Giant : This time no doubt : the Accept trademark, the German trademark, the fast and aggressive Grave Digger of Heavy Metal Breakdown is back. This song is a pure killer, what an hymn (chorus). Live ? We will lose our vocals with the chorus. The guitar riff will crunch you and the middle "solo break" is again a pure diamond. The spirit of the 80's - with the classic guitar solo - is the footprints of Rheingold so far. Ah, I forgot to mention Chris Boltendahl. The guy explodes everything on this track and on Rheingold in general. Touchdown Chris ... as usual between you and me :-) The galloping riff closing the track will also hunt you long after ...

Maidens Of War : The "quiet" start on the guitar and the first thirty seconds reminds me Blessed Are You - Iced Earth, Something Wicked This Way Comes. Many changing rhythms : accelerating, decelerating, symphonic & atmospheric ambiance. Reminding me The Spell on Excalibur, with a traditional chorus in the vein of the trilogy. That's the 4th song ... and that's a 4th slap :)

Sword : For the first time the tempo is heavy, slow, pounding ... Chris is angry : you feel the anger in his body ready to explode any time ... like he was conditioning himself to burn ... but he keeps all the anger inside because the track is slow. The chorus is "straightforward" ... as the "leading actor" of this track is the bass. Later on, the guitarist once again releases a killing riff, even though the tempo is really slow. Do you remember the Heart Of Darkness album ?

Dragon : What a start ! After perceiving the Dragon, a killing riff slap you again in the face. How the hell these guys found so many new refreshing riffs. It is like the old days of Iron Maiden, Helloween, Accept, Judas Priest ... but with this typical & unique Grave Digger signature. Another classic is born my friends. A killer live track for sure : Kill Kill The Dragon, Kill Kill The Beast Inside !!!

Liar : Get lost ! Do you remember the wonderful guitar riff of Fast As A Shark (Accept). Here comes a better one ! This track makes me jumping all around the room with my invisible guitar, climbing the wall. The trademark chorus reminds me the Excalibur spirit. The man behind the guitar explodes another fuse. Manni, my dear friend, you f**king rule. This is the 7th song, the 7th touchdown. Unbelievable !

Murderer : Here comes a very heavy track ... a Black Sabbath tone with this typical Grave Digger touch. It reminds the heavy part of Scythe Of Time (The Grave Digger). This track being better, more balanced as Chris almost narrates the lyrics before the band sings together the chorus. A strange atmospheric feeling lies on this track ... like if you were living in an hunted house. The dark side of Grave Digger ...

Twilight Of The Gods : What an opening riff, the band decided to keep the best guitar riff for the end. Another head-banging track. The title of the song reminds you ... Virgin Steele. Believe it or not, the epic spirit of the American band is well represented ... but again, with this typical Grave Digger sauce. There is a "Gregorian" break in the middle, with flying guitars - being for the first time weightless, so fluffy - preparing the final assault : Manni's guitar assault. Wooooaaawww !!!

And the record ends very slowly ... like if the band was telling you : my dear listener, you can rest in peace now !

I know it sounds like a very stupid "cliché", but after Excalibur, I was sure Grave Digger could never do better. I was wrong :-)

Killing Songs :
All of them !!! Chosing one is simply ... impossible. Giant ? Dragon ? Liar ?
Danny quoted 99 / 100
Marty quoted 85 / 100
Mike quoted 87 / 100
Other albums by Grave Digger that we have reviewed:
Grave Digger - Clash of the Gods reviewed by Olivier and quoted 74 / 100
Grave Digger - The Clans Are Still Marching - Live at Wacken 2010 (DVD/CD) reviewed by Marty and quoted no quote
Grave Digger - Ballads Of A Hangman reviewed by Marty and quoted 86 / 100
Grave Digger - Liberty Or Death reviewed by Chris and quoted 86 / 100
Grave Digger - The Last Supper reviewed by Mike and quoted 67 / 100
To see all 8 reviews click here
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