From The Vaults

The first in our new series, digging out awesome older albums. Jamie Grimes starts with a much loved gem from the halcyon days of England's underground.

Grave Digger | ‘Ballads Of A Hangman’


Grave Digger are one of those bands that everyone seems to know the name of, but how many people ACTUALLY count themselves as fanatics? They have always seemed, to this reviewer at least, as one of those bands that are destined to always be that band that you’ll check out at some later date, maybe at a festival, maybe later in the year, just not now. So where do they stand with this, their 15th proper album, “Ballads Of A Hangman?”

It‘s a big monk-like droning chorus that preludes the album for a short couple of mood-building minutes, until the title track opens with a great pounding drum beat and a surprisingly growly vocal with some under-stated guitar work that holds back until the chorus. Great start to the album, but the next set of tracks really relate why Grave Digger are in the aforementioned bracket.

It’s not that they’re a bad band per se, far from it. It’s just that they are treading the same waters as Running Wild, but without that same sense of fun, and epic tuneage. Chris Boltendahl’s vocals are just too one-dimensional to keep one’s attention for too long, and the only parts of the album that actually stick out are the singalong choruses (‘Shadow Of Your Soul’ especially) and the admittedly brilliant solos throughout, particularly on ‘Sorrow Of The Dead.’ They’re kept very short, to the point, and highly effective, but the rest of the album is just a tad forgettable.

The cover of the album is unbearably cool though, and it harkens back to the excellent painted LP covers of the 80s, telling a story in just one single picture. Definite bonus points for that one, but it’s unfortunately not enough to dig this album out of anything other than the slightly above average grave. It simply exists, and you’ll listen to it through to the end, but there’s just not enough here to warrant another visit, or indeed another try at listening to Grave Digger.

That cover would look great in anyone’s LP stash though…

2.9 / 5 Dónal McBrien ::: 07/12/08


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