Grave Digger (1980-1987, 1991-present): a Power Metal band from Gladbeck, Germany.
rave Digger is widely considered one of a small number of German power metal bands including Helloween, Running Wild and Rage that have been going strong since the 1980s. Initially signed to 'Noise' they would become instrumental in the rise of that label and endured multiple line-up changes throughout their tenure all surrounding their front-man vocalist Chris Boltendahl. Originally named Digger between 1980-1986, the act would re-start by releasing Heavy Metal Breakdown (1984) and Witch Hunter (1985) with Albert Eckardt (drums), Peter Masson (guitar), Willi Lackmann (bass) and the aforementioned Boltendahl at the helm. C.F. Brank took over from Lackmann for the release of 1986's War Games. War Games had a bit of history behind it as it happens for under the name Digger, three-quarters of the band either split and reformed or simply changed their name to release a one-off titled Stronger Than Ever around that same time with the membership of Boltendahl, Eckardt, Brank, and new guitar player Uwe Lulis.
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They were assumed to have broken up thereafter for another album didn't emerge until The Reaper arrived in 1993 under the Grave Digger name with Boltendahl recruiting Lulis with Frank Ullrich (drums) and Tomi Gottlich (bass), and Symphony Of Death EP (1993) with Jörg Michael taking over drums. Best Of The Eighties, their "best of..." came in 1994 with more studio work in the form of Heart Of Darkness arriving in 1995. Tunes Of War (1996) and The Dark Of The Sun EP (1997) saw Stefan Arnold take over from Ullrich. Jens Becker took over from Gottlich for Knights Of The Cross (1998), while H.P. Katzenburg was added on keyboards and Lulis replaced with Manni Schmidt (ex-Rage) for Excalibur (1999). Now on 'Nuclear Blast', the album The Grave Digger, appeared in 2001. Their live Wacken Festival Tunes Of Wacken (2002) and Rheingold (2003) then followed.
After the successful Rheingold Tour, The Last Supper (2005) followed; the cover depicted a depressive Jesus Christ at his last days before death, left by his followers and the loneliness of Jesus while death waited behind him. Unlike their previous albums, The Last Supper was not a concept album, despite several songs about the last days of Jesus.
The Scottish inspired The Clans Will Rise Again (2010). The EP Home at Last and next album Clash of the Gods followed in 2012 featuring Axel Ritt on guitar. After the Return of the Reaper (2014) and its bold cover art, the compilation Exhumation - The Early Years arrived in 2015 featuring re-recordings of selected early tracks saw the light of day. Healed by Metal (2017), The Living Dead (2018) and Fields of Blood (2020) then arrived with Marcus Kniep on keyboards.
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