Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Album Review: Grave Digger - Healed By Metal

What can we say about Grave Digger? The band has been around for decades, and seemingly done it all. They've entered that air of seniority, where every time they make a record, it's an event both because we know what we're getting, and because they're an institution. Even when they aren't reaching their old heights, they are always welcome to bring along some new music. It's the same boat that Motorhead reached before their ultimate conclusion, and it's a better boat than the one Judas Priest is in, which is the one where we cover our eyes and hope they don't embarrass themselves again.

Or at least that's what we want to think. "Healed By Metal" starts off in a way that has me questioning everything. I have a long-standing dislike of songs that talk about metal as a subject, and the title track opens the album by reaffirming everything I've ever said on the subject. It's cheesy, ugly, and makes me certain that I don't want to be part of the metal culture if it sounds like that. It's a song that wants to be an anthem, but you can't force those things to happen. They just do.

Case in point: "Free Forever". That is a song that does everything "Healed By Metal" wants to, but it actually succeeds. There's a bit of swagger in the riff, the vocals are appropriately gruff, but then the chorus has that Running Wild style shanty melody that works exceedingly well. In fact, the few tracks in a row that follow the opener make me wonder how the band thought not only that it was good enough to make the album, but to lead it off and serve as the title. It was a horrible decision, and almost made me neglect the record entirely.

I don't consider it a coincidence that the other track that drags the record down is "Ten Commandments Of Metal", which falls into the same quagmire. Perhaps there should be an eleventh commandment; thou shalt not write metal about metal.

But those two tracks don't define the whole of the album. The rest of the tracks are Grave Digger's enjoyable blend of traditional and power metal, and they offer up enough to make the record worth its while. Veteran bands usually know how to deliver a solid record, and that's what Grave Digger has done here. It's solid, which is the good and the bad. But hey, it could always be worse.

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