Even with three decades and 17 full-length albums under their heavy leather overcoats, legendary German metallers Grave Digger aren’t showing any signs of slowing down. Return Of The Reaper is served straight up and brimming with their classic ballsy ’80s speed/thrash/hard rock style. 

On their new album, Grave Digger have reached deep into the past, realised their strengths and paid homage to their late ’80s/’90s releases. Chris Boltendahl leads the swashbuckling crew through 12 hellacious tracks with his signature gravelly vibrato. The album’s atmosphere is exceptionally dark and moody, rife with themes of death, darkness and general gothic ire. 

 

Befittingly, the opening track features a metal variation of Frédéric Chopin’s ‘Marche Funèbre’ (Funeral March), with horses neighing and galloping, heavy rain, thunder and screams. Later, Satan himself laughs through the intro for the guitar-shredding ‘Satan’s Host’. ‘Dia De Los Muertos’ and ‘Grave Desecrator’ are album highlights, showcasing razor-sharp riffing fit for a barbarian’s horn-blowing session. 

 

Return Of The Reaper isn’t break-the-door-down progressive, but it’s chock-full of raw, pulverising metal that never loses its shine, and that’s hard to come by these days.

 

3/5.

Return Of The Reaper is out now through Napalm.

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