GRAVE DIGGER - Fields Of Blood (Napalm Records)

  Van Muylem    11 mei 2020

With metal anthems like 'Heavy Metal Breakdown', GRAVE DIGGER are one of the most influential and pioneering bands of the German heavy metal scene since the early 80s, and 2020 will celebrate the 40th anniversary of these Teutonic metal masters!  The ethos of the band has not changed, and yet GRAVE DIGGER sound modern and timeless like never before. On their 20th studio album, the band around frontman Chris Boltendahl continues their epic Highlands story.

Fields of Blood is the logic consequence of a legendary trilogy and an auditory battle of unique traditional metal! The album takes us into the vastness of Scotland on a journey through explosive sound landscapes. It's no surprise that the band even recorded parts of their new long player in the Scottish Highlands.

The Clansman’s Journey is the opening track and simply announces the start of our musical journey with Scottish bagpipes (and only after a while guitars and drums). No vocals in this one. All For The Kingdom is the real starter. When Chris starts to sing you get to hear the story of the clansman and the beginning of something that will lead to fields of blood! The backings are strong and sound like the army that is getting prepared to fight a royal rumble! It also sounds as if the musketeers are getting ready. Lions Of The Sea is hard knocking track with a catchy chorus filled with strong backings (it almost sounds like pirates or even Alestrom but with more serious idea’s). The guitar solo is also worth mentioning.

Freedom has appositive feel but launches the battle cry. The backings gives the song the strength needed to give it a powerful but positive attitude. The guitars and the drums knock hard and sound like empowered by the battle cry. Heart of Scotland sounds softer than the other tracks, but still talks about prepping for a great battle. It’s all in all melodic but a bit too slow for me. However, it’s the marching of the foot soldiers, so it can’t go faster, I suppose. Up next is a powerful ballad and in same time a bewitching duet: Thousand Tears (feat. Noora of Battlebeast): imagine an acoustic guitar, a synth and bagpipes. Chris opens softly and proves that he can do more then just scream until his voice gets soar. Noora sings like a nightingale. Both voices melt together with backings and give us a powerful momentum. After that the guitars and drums jump in whilst Noora opens her powerful vocals to us. The tension rises, but the bagpipes silences it all. It's a beautiful ballad and a bit of a cool surprise!

Union Of The Crown pics up the battle cry and sounds like a classic Grave Digger track: screaming, guitars on fire and hammering drums! The united backings give the song some extra powers. My Final Fight sounds like running horses and people hacking and slashing with new and then a stop to turn back and launch the horses again. Gathering Of The Clans is the start of the grand final and sounds really cool and powerful, just like how it should sound, actually. Barbarian talks about the real battle: the cold-blooded kills, the bloodshed, the enemy … It’s hell and chaos with a trail of devastation. Fields of Blood starts a bit weird with the bagpipes, but when all the other instruments jump in it gets the taste of the blood. The battlefield is there: for the last time! It feels towards the end like a moment of glory. The bagpipes keep in the happy feel, whilst Chris continues with the story and a sore throat. The end sounds softer, like as if our hero is out of energy and looks a last time at the battle field that has become a field of blood. Braveheart is dead, he lost his life for the kingdom, but at least he gave all he had. Just when you think it’s the end of the song the power comes back and we get one last auditive blow. Requiem For The Fallen is the outro for this album, almost a symphonic gesture for the fallen heroes.

Well this album is for sure the most cinematic of all the Grave Digger albums and I like the bagpipes and the powered up backings! It’s a great momentum and let’s hope the band survives the hardest battle of all: the one against Covid-19! So spread the music and not the virus! Stay home and listen to great music like this album for example!