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Grave Digger – The Forgotten Years – Album Review

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Grave Digger – The Forgotten Years – Album Review

Grave Digger – The Forgotten Years
Origin: Gladbeck / Germany
Release: 08.12.2023
Label: vicrecords
Duration: 1:09:59
Genre: Heavy Metal

Foto Credit: Grave Digger

Grave Digger are a well-known institution in the history of Teutonic Heavy Metal. The band founded around 1980 around the frontman and founding member Chris Boltendahl should be familiar to every reader.

Many of us have Grave Digger seen live and almost everyone has one of the band’s albums in their closet somewhere. But the band’s long history includes not only high phases but also some lows.

Rise and fall

The band is in metal heaven with their first three albums Heavy Metal Breakdown, Witch Hunter and War Games almost like a rocket. But the rapid rise of heavy metal and especially NWOBHM in Europe and the USA was hit by the first signs of fatigue in the late 1980s. More extreme bands from the areas of thrash and the emerging death metal gained the favor of listeners and continued the innovation in metal. For the first time, tiring discussions about the supposed end of traditional heavy metal cast their shadows.

Grave Digger In 1987, they took a turn into a shallower musical direction, which was a commercial flop because the audience couldn’t and didn’t want to understand the change in direction. Nevertheless, you have to allow a band to try and develop. In the case of Grave Digger They recognized the wrong path they had taken and put the band on ice in frustration. But heavy metal didn’t let go of the veterans. That’s why the band came with the double team six years after the self-declared end Chris Boltendahl and Lulis cried and the strong album The Reaper back.

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Gather to attack

But what happened between the declared exit in 1987 and the successful return in 1993? The band was in a phase of collecting ideas, reflecting and trying things out. First and extensive demo recordings under the title Return of the Reaper were made. This was followed by the EP in 1992 For Promotion Only!! four new and promising tracks. But not everyone has the demo or EP in their closet as a collector’s item.

The approximately seventy minutes of The Forgotten Years answers all questions about reflection and the start of the second spring. There are also duplications of songs, such as with Fight The Fightwhich is included in three versions and HERE in the Return of the Reaper Demo version can be listened to.

Between original and later perfection

On The Forgotten Years are in the order they are For Promotion Only!! EP from 1992, that Return of the Reaper Demo from 1991 under the temporary band name Hawaii recorded demo called Bottles And Four Coconuts from 1989 included. Although most of them are demo recordings, the sound quality of the recordings sounds rough but very audible throughout.

Ob The Forgotten Years appeals to all metalheads, it’s probably a matter of point of view. Many die-hard fans will long for this so they don’t have to resort to crappy YouTube video streams. But the average listener should not be deprived of the fact that all compositions were later re-recorded on official albums in a mature quality. So who the album The Reaper and the mini CD Symphony Of Death calls his own, he has actually taken good care of himself. Also the track Don’t Bring Me Down was already found on the Japanese edition of Heart Of Darkness or on the compilation Lost Tunes From The Vault.

The release on CD and vinyl

The CD edition shines with great sound and 19 songs with a playing time of around 70 minutes. The booklet contains accompanying words from the founding member Chris Boltendahl and rare, rarely shown photos. The 8-track vinyl edition, which is available in different color versions, comes as a single LP and contains the recordings of the For Promotion Only!! EP and on the B-side the four tracks of the Return Of The Reaper Demo.

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Conclusion
The Forgotten Years fills the musical gap between the band’s temporary abandonment in 1987 and the resurgence Grave Diggers at the beginning of the 1990s. The compilation of the demo material is certainly not for average listeners, but it is simply essential for fans of the band and those interested in German metal history. 8 / 10

Line Up
Chris Boltendahl – Life
Uwe Lulis – Guitar
Tomi Göttlich – Bass (For Promotion Only!! EP, Return Of The Reaper Demo)
Peter Breitenbach – Schlagzeug (For Promotion Only!! EP, Return Of The Reaper Demo)
Rainer Bandzus – Bass (Bottles And Four Coconuts Demo)
Jochen Börner – drums (Bottles And Four Coconuts demo)

Tracklist
01. Ride On (For Promotion Only!! EP)
02. Shadows of a Moonless Night (For Promotion Only!! EP)
03. Spy of Mas’On (For Promotion Only!! EP)
04. Fight the Fight (For Promotion Only!! EP)
05. Ruler Mr. H (Return Of The Reaper Demo)
06. And the Devil Plays Piano (Return Of The Reaper Demo)
07. Fight the Fight (Return Of The Reaper Demo)
08. Wedding Day (Return Of The Reaper Demo)
09. Intro (Bottles And Four Coconuts Demo)
10. Shout It Out (Bottles And Four Coconuts Demo)
11. Spyware of Mas’On (Bottles And Four Coconuts Demo)
12. Fight the Fight (Bottles And Four Coconuts Demo)
13. Shadows of a Moonless Night (Bottles And Four Coconuts Demo)
14. Back to the Roots (Bottles And Four Coconuts Demo)
15. Play Your Game (Bottles And Four Coconuts Demo)
16. Don’t Bring Me Down (Bottles And Four Coconuts Demo)
17. Wedding Day (Bottles And Four Coconuts Demo)
18. Ruler Mr. H (Bottles And Four Coconuts Demo)
19. Ride On (Bottles And Four Coconuts Demo)

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Links
Facebook Grave Digger
Instagram Grave Digger

Also on Soundmagnet.eu
Album Review – Grave Digger – Symbol Of Eternity
Interview – Grave Digger, asked by Axel Ritt
Album Review – Chris Boltendahl’s Steelhammer – Reborn in Flames

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