The first thing I like about this album is the kickass cover.
As some of you know, I reall like the band Grave Digger. Some of you don't like Chris Boltendahl's vocals, but I do. If he didn't sing like that, then Grave Digger would just be 'another metal band.' And I think it is pretty awesome that they have kept the same vocalist since their formation in 1980.
I am sure a few of you are aware that many of Grave Digger's albums carry some underlying theme. The three GD albums I had before Liberty or Death
were all conceptual albums. Tunes of War
focused on Scottish history, Excalibur
on King Arthur, and Last Supper
focused mainly on Christ (though other themes were explored.) For their 12th Full-length release, Grave Digger decided to dwell on the idea of freedom and liberty. And with that in mind, I present to you a play-by-play analysis of this album.
The title track starts off the album with the eerie symphonies of a raging storm and a chilling haunted house keyboard. The other musicians dive in slowly, and then after a minute and twenty-five seconds, you are hit with one of those killer Grave Digger riffs. These guys are the definition of traditional/classic heavy metal. The drums are not unbearable wacky and the guitars/bass are driving and memorable. The title of the song pretty much gives away the song's theme. One thing on this song that I hadn't really noticed on the other albums is that there is an almost choral echo behind Chris' voice on most of the choruses on this album. I haven't decided whether I like that or not. Its epic, but is it necessary?
Ocean of Blood starts off with yet another killer riff. This one REALLY gets the blood flowing. The audience is hit with one of those "diving wahs" that you would only expect from an 80s band. Lyrically, this song focuses on Moses and the Jewish exodus from Egypt. At this point, the word "freedom" starts getting a little annoying...Wish they would have choose something else.
Track three is called Highland Tears. After 11 long years, we finally see the return of the war drums and the serenade of bagpipers playing the tunes of war. The sad bagpipery move into another riff. The verse of this song is rockin, and when you get to chorus, someone else starts singing (supposed to be some Scottish prisoners, I guess.) This song is a great sing-along.
The riff on The Terrible One (a first-person account from Ivan) is pretty slow, but still great for foot-tapping. This song has a pretty neat (but predictable) trad-metal solo. Until The Last King Died starts out pretty 'industrial', with some clanking drums and screeching bass. Then the slow riff comes in, but suddenly ends at the verse. The first half of the verse consists of Chris trying to sing creepily, with a few pick-scrapes..Doesnt work very well. The riffs on this song arent as memorable as some others, but they aren't terrible. Again, overusage of the word 'liberty.'
March of the Innocent starts with an acoustic guitar, some booming cymbal strikes transition into a really power-metallic riff. This song is kinda ackward, because they are Germans singing passoniately about the Holocaust...It sounds very weird with Chris' accent. Silent Revolution was the first single I heard off this album, and it pretty much rocks balls. I think the vocals are TOO powerful on this song, but it is the "anthem" of the album. This is probably the most memorable song on Liberty or Death, just because of the chorus. The end of the offers this gem:
What difference does it make
To the dead, the orphans, and the homeless,
Whether the mad destruction is wrought
Under the name of totalitarianism
Or the holy name of liberty and democracy
And for that I had to died???
Shadowland is a song about the slave trade. Okay-Germans singing about the holocaust is okay..But white europeans singing from the perspective of the African's trying to survive the slave trade is just weird. Once you get this deep into the album, the riffs don't seem as spectacular, but the song isnt bad. OH WAIT! DID I SPEAK TOO SOON? Forecourt to Hell punches you in the face with another driving riff and one of Chris' screechs. "ALRIGHT!!!" And he actually gets to sing Latin (the first I have heard) in this Gladiator epic. The final track is somewhat of a ballad, dealing with the Jewish fortification known as Massada. Chris' voice pretty much ruins any softness that was being attempted here. Oh well.
Overall, if you like traditional metal, power metal, or just some kickass, foot-tapping riffage, get this album. If you don't like Chris' voice, then you dont have to listen. They have made it this far without any mainstream attention; something has to be going right for them.
Pros: riffage, simple but driving drums, thoughtful and memorable lyrics, great musicianship.
Cons: vocals could be altered in a few places, though there are no fillers, some songs could have used some work, overuse of some lyrics.
It is in truth not for glory, not riches,
Not honours that we are fighting for,
But for freedom
For that alone, which no honest man
gives up but with life itself
We are the last fighting against a past
To be free.
EDIT: My wireless keyboard's batteries are dying, and I am very tired, so there are probably alot of spelling/grammar mistakes in this review....