Grave Digger

Live at The City National Grove

Anaheim, CA

November 21st, 2015

Review and photos by Travis Baumann

Grave Digger are a metal band hailing from Germany and have been putting out albums for over thirty years. Their style lies somewhere between speed, thrash, and power metal.

The band is focused around founding member and vocalist Chris Boltendahl whose signature gravel voice and thematic lyrics make Grave Digger stand out from their contemporaries in European heavy metal.

They have just released their seventeenth studio album with "Return of the Reaper" and are touring North America in promotion of it as well as special guests of fellow Germans, Blind Guardian.

I have been a fan of theirs for over seven years now, and as far as I can recall, this is their first US tour in that time. I got hooked on them with their "The Clans Will Rise Again" release, which took a moving introspective look at Scottish history and conflict and was a really great album. Since then, they have put out solid release after release and I was excited to see them perform live.

They started off the set with a song off their very first release, "Heavy Metal Breakdown", with "Headbanging Man". The crowd was enthusiastic and the sound was spot on.

They traveled mid-way through their career for their second song, "The Round Table (Forever)" from their "Excaliber" album, which came out in 1999 and was a big hit with the audience.

Keeping the old time fans sated with early material, they played "Witch Hunter" off of their sophomore release of the same name.

They moved forward in time for "Ballad of a Hangman" from the 2009 release of that name, before landing on a song from the new album. They chose "Season of the Witch", which is easily my favorite song off of the "Return of the Reaper" and it was awesome live.

Returning to the "Excaliber" release for the title track off that album, they then did another new song with "Tattooed Rider" from their latest release. Chris mentioned how good it was to be in Southern California and how great the weather was, perfect for a motorcycle ride.

They hit upon another of my favorite songs of theirs with "Highland Farewell" from "The Clans Will Rise Again", and then followed that up with a double dose of Scottish themed metal anthems with "Rebellion (The Clans Are Marching)" from the 1996 seminal album "Tunes of War".

They finished out the night with the title song from their debut release, "Heavy Metal Breakdown" which got everyone in the audience singing along for what turned out to be a very extended version of the song.

It was a great show and I was really happy with the overall set list. They have so much material, it was interesting to see the pieces that they picked and the albums they decided to skip over entirely.

I would love for them to come again so we can get a more extended experience into that vast catalog, but all in all I was very happy with what we got to see.

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