Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Grave Digger: 25 to Live

25 to Live Artist: Grave Digger Year: 2006 Heavy metal is not pretty. Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is trying to sell you something - but it sure does rock. After 25 years of rocking, Grave Digger has finally released a live compilation worth celebrating, and they are dishing it up both on CD and DVD for us to enjoy. Formed in 1980, Grave Digger has been one of Germany's brightest stars in the metal arena for years now. Over the past few years, their releases have consistently garnered high praise, and 25 to Live is no different. Recorded in 2005 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, 25 to Live offers an excellent chronicle of the band's career, spanning their numerous albums. The show was a relatively simple one, allowing the audience to really focus on what they came for: kick-ass heavy metal, with no pretension. There are no elaborate light shows (though of course some changing colors and flashing now and then), no elaborate stage set-up: just five guys giving it their all to rock the crowd. And the crowd responded appreciatively. There is a reason that so many rock bands record live albums in Brazil: on every live release I have ever heard recorded in Brazil, the crowd is simply insane. The crowd coming to see Grave Digger that night was no different. They sang along to every word, and often even to the music when there were no words! They consistently chanted between just about every song. They went nuts every time lead singer Chris Boltendahl screamed "Obrigado!" The energy infused in the show is infectious, and I found myself pumping my fist in the air right along with them. The band is great as well. Monster guitar riffs, machine-gun staccato, lightning fast solos, thundering bass, and pummeling drum work prove that after 25 years, Grave Digger has plenty of life in them. They really seem to be enjoying themselves, evident in the interaction with each other and the crowd. The music is very tight, the playing excellent, and the energy from the band is absolutely great. The DVD manages to capture the band from many angles, with some shots right up on stage and others from farther away. There are a few cheesy "special effects" here and there, some added light halos and some slow motion, but they hardly distract from the music, and actually fit right in with the necessary willingness to suspend reality to enjoy this type of music. The extras are sparse, chronicling the band's journey and preparation from the concert. But, with such a fantastic, 27-song show, the concert is the real centerpiece of the package. Rating: 4/5 25 to Live is an excellent example of a great heavy metal release. The music is energetic, the crowds enthusiasm infectious, and the song selection is a very nice sample of the band's long career. 25 to Live is sure to please long time Grave Digger fans, and will also certainly earn the band some new fans who decide to check it out. This is true heavy metal, killer riffs and wailing vocals at their very best. It ain't pretty, but it sure does rock.

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