The Clans Will Rise Again
posted on 10/2010 By:
Another two years (more or less), and another Grave Digger record...
And I'm not really complaining, mind you, at least not about their rate of productivity. This German outfit has become one of my more consistent guilty pleasures, and they’re one that’s coming off a solid offering in last year's Ballads Of A Hangman. Like fellow Germanic warhorse U.D.O., Grave Digger soldiers on, releasing variations on the theme of traditional metal, with Chris Boltendahl’s choked growling atop power-metal-styled riffage and dashes of symphonic bombast.
The Clans Will Rise Again is openly hailed as something of a sequel to 1996's Tunes Of War—it’s not a concept piece, in the sense that it’s not tied to a storyline, but it’s thematic, all tunes telling tales of Scottish history and heritage. Opening with a brief bagpipe-laden instrumental piece, Clans hits a short stride with “Paid In Blood,” “Hammer Of The Scots,” and “Highland Farewell,” all of whom do justice to the patent Grave Digger sound, but after the plodding title track, the album settles into a lengthy run of tunes that don’t quite transcend. “Rebels,” “Whom The Gods Love,” “Spider”—all are acceptable entries into the Grave Digger canon, but they’re all far from triumphant ones. Perhaps this revisiting of old themes is a double-edged claymore—perhaps the inspiration for new and exciting tracks just didn’t quite come together properly, as most of Clans feels about 80% fully realized. Of the album beyond the first three full tunes, only the catchy “Coming Home” achieves true memorability, and as with the two symphonic pieces that precede it on the record, it suffers from some truly irritating synth bagpipes.
So sadly, even as many of its elements are equivalent to those of the band’s best efforts, Clans falls short of Grave Digger’s highest points of glory, treading the same waters but with some below-average results. Clans starts strong, and yet half of these tunes simply aren't as immediate or compelling, as well-developed as those found on Ballads or Rheingold or Excalibur. Clans is not a disaster, by any means, but it is a disappointment—it’s a listenable effort, if still a lesser one.
Oh, well. In another two years (more or less), there will be another Grave Digger record…
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