Abandoning their penchant for Middle Ages history that dominated Grave Digger's last three albums, the German quintet has taken a dark turn that's more indicative of the band's name. The Grave Digger, while still rife with uncanny heavy melodies, spooky keyboard passages and Chris Boltendahl's gruff but relatively clean vocals, plunges into the depths of Edgar Allan Poe's psyche. Many of the album's 11 songs are inspired by the writings of the 19th century poet, although I don't remember Poe ever being quite as dark as Grave Digger sound on "Son of Evil."
With song titles like "Scythe of Time," "Spirits of the Dead," "Funeral Procession" and "Haunted Palace," it's easy to laugh at these guys, chalking them up as a cheap imitation of King Diamond or Manowar. But if you can get past some of the goofy lyrics, there is a level of musical complexity and depth that surprises — even for a band that's been together in one form or another for almost two decades.
Perhaps the most-haunting track on The Grave Digger appears early on to be its least threatening. "Silence" is a simple ballad featuring a gentler-voiced Boltendahl singing against a soothing yet slightly discomforting background of keyboards, acoustic guitars and background vocals. During the bridge, he lets loose with a thought-provoking lyric that's immediately chilling — "I open the grave and close your eyes/I touch your face where your spirit lies" — before the repeated chorus of "Feel the silence" carries the song to its gripping conclusion.