Published by: Rock of Angels Records
Release date: August 26, 2022
Genre: Heavy Metal
Chris Boltendahl – Vocals
Axel Ritt – Guitars
Jens Becker – Bass
Marcus Kneip – keyboards, drums
List of tracks:
1. Siege of Akkon
2. Battle Cry
3. Hell is my purgatory
4. King of Kings
5. Symbol of eternity
7. Jerusalem Nights
8. Heart of a Warrior
9. Grace of God
10. Heaven of Swords
11. Holy War
12. The Last Crusade
13. Hellas Hellas (Vasilis Papakonstantinou cover)
At this point, German heavy/power metal band Grave Digger needs no introduction. It’s no secret that they’re one of the oldest and most prolific bands in all of metal, releasing over 20 albums in 42 years, remaining remarkably consistent throughout their careers, both in both in terms of productivity and quality. Their 21st full album, Symbol of Eternity, is due out later this month, and unsurprisingly, it’s yet another killer album, with very little filler.
The band have revisited concepts from previous albums extensively over the past decade, and it continues here, with Symbol of Eternity featuring a throwback to the Crusades, which was of course the theme of Knights of the Cross, one of their albums. the most popular and appreciated. Personally, although I always liked this album, it was never one of my favorites of the band, so I didn’t have as many expectations as for Fields of Blood or Return of the Reaper, but I hoped the band would continue their streak of great albums. After several listens, I would say that this album meets my expectations, without necessarily exceeding them, and I would put it on par with Knights of the Cross.
Fans should know what to expect from the overall sound here, which hasn’t changed much over the years. Guitarist Axel Ritt leads the way with killer riffs and beautiful melodic guitar work, while Chris Boltendahl’s throaty, powerful voice holds together as well as on the few previous albums, and the rhythm section is strong as ever. Compared to some of their other classics, I always felt that Knights of the Cross never had any real defining elements, in terms of musical style, and Symbol of Eternity follows suit. By that I mean where The Clans Will Rise Again, Return of the Reaper and Fields of Blood all had distinct elements that instantly reminded me of their predecessors, this album plays more like a kind of “Greatest Hits” album , at least musically. There are quite a few tracks here that are instantly reminiscent of some of my favorite hits the band produced throughout their career, with just an added modern twist to help them stand out. On the one hand, I’d say this album doesn’t stand out as much as some of the band’s best efforts, but on the other hand, I’m totally fine with that, because they’re a band that’s been around for a number of decades, so hearing them still produce hard-hitting metal of this quality is more than enough to satisfy me.
There’s a good amount of variety here, with the expected mix of heavy and fast power metal tracks, along with other mid-paced heavy metal tracks, some slower, more melodic tracks, and a few tracks that fall into ballad. territory. There are no real experiments or surprises here, but the songwriting is consistently excellent throughout the album, so fans of the band should find plenty to enjoy. After a brief intro, the opening track “Battle Cry” is the kind of explosive opener fans would expect, charging out of doors with fast and furious drumming, thundering riffs and powerful vocals, before giving in. to a chorus that instantly reminded me of “Pendragon”, with the way the title is repeated, mixed with other lyrics, and even the timing seems very similar. The aforementioned track is one of my all-time favorites, so this track feels very nostalgic to me, and the performance and overall sound is fantastic, combined with the nostalgia to make it one of my favorites.
Then comes the first single, “Hell is my Purgatory”, another heavy track, which slows down the tempo a bit, although it still moves at a fairly fast pace. It’s a very classic Grave Digger-sounding track, fueled by intense riffs, strong vocals and a fun, but not particularly memorable chorus. There’s a very odd-sounding guitar solo in the second half, which looks like an attempt at neo-classical shredding, but the guitar tone just seems a bit off, so it doesn’t sound as good as usual. , for some reason. Overall, though, it’s a nice trail. The band show no signs of giving up with “King of the Kings”, one of the heaviest tracks on the album, it opens with a fast passage, before slowing down for a more rhythmic opening verse. at mid-tempo, then it goes full speed ahead for a glorious chorus, featuring some of their best vocal melodies yet, as well as incredible melodic guitar work. The solo here also has a bit of an odd feel to it, but it sounds a bit better than the one on the previous track. Overall, it’s another one of my favorites on the album.
The tempo drops a little for the title track, a powerful ballad in the tradition of “The Keeper of the Holy Grail”. Like this track, it alternates heavy and quiet passages quite well and has a dark feel, while having a very melodic and catchy chorus, with excellent vocals from Boltendahl, as well as an excellent guitar solo, and a cool reference to “Healed by Metal” right at the end. After a brief but very enjoyable interlude, “Nights of Jerusalem” is another heavy hitter, with a dark feel, as well as a powerful chorus that kinda reminds me of “Knights of the Cross”. Another big highlight is then with “Heart of a Warrior”, which reminds me a lot of “Death Angel and the Grave Digger”, both with its fiery main riff as well as its chorus, which has the same kind of construction and delivery, and it’s just as epic here as it is on this track.
For the most part, the pace slows down a bit for the home stretch, starting with “Grace of God.” It opens with a nice acoustic guitar section with a slight folk tinge, before turning into another kind of powerful ballad. It’s a little heavier than the title track, with a slight doom metal feel to some of the riffs, but there’s another very melodic anthemic chorus, which is one of the best on the album. One of the most distinct soundtracks here is “Sky of Swords,” which has a very epic classic heavy metal feel to it. The track moves along at a brisk pace, with lovely riffs, a tight rhythm section and strong vocal melodies throughout, with the chorus, in particular, being another personal favourite. The last really fast track here is “Holy Warfare,” which has some nice galloping Iron Maiden-esque riffs throughout the verses, while the chorus is peppy and catchy. The last original song here is “The Last Crusade”, which is unfortunately also my least favorite. It’s by no means a bad track, but I find it lacks the energy, riffs, or memorable moments I look for in a Grave Digger track. It’s a slow-paced track that alternates between heavy and soft passages, but despite having a strong chorus, I find that the verses move on without any memorable moments, whereas musically it’s the least entertaining track. here. It’s not the worst track the band have produced over the years, but it feels like a disappointing ending to the album.
Or at least it would be, had the band not chosen to include a cover of “Hellas Hellas”, by Greek artist Vasilis Papakonstantinou. The track moves at a fairly brisk pace, although it’s not as explosive as one of the power metal tracks here, and it has more of a classic hard rock feel. There is a lot of energy in the performances, with Boltendahl and Papakonstantinou himself singing in Greek and working very well together. It’s a fun track overall, and I’m glad the band decided to include it.
Grave Digger have been on a pretty solid streak over the past decade, releasing one great album after another, with their previous album Fields of Blood, in particular, being one of my all-time favourites. Although Symbol of Eternity doesn’t quite reach the same level as some of the band’s best work, it’s still an excellent album in its own right, and one that should appeal to long-time fans, while all those looking for high quality and hard hitting power metal and classic heavy metal albums would be well advised to give this album a listen. Even after 21 albums, the band continues to show no signs of slowing down any time soon!
Written by: travis green
My overall mind – Personal editor
Travis Green is a Canadian writer for My Global Mind, with a particular passion for power metal, as well as an interest in metal in all its forms.