GRAVE DIGGER — Knights of the Cross (review)

GRAVE DIGGER — Knights of the Cross album cover Album · 1998 · Power Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
adg211288
German act Grave Digger are one of the leading groups of the niche of power metal that covers a harder, more traditional heavy metal influenced sound and Knights of the Cross (1998) is their seventh full-length album. This release is a part of the band's Middle Ages Trilogy which also includes Tunes of War (1996) and Excalibur (1999). The songs of the trilogy deal with true history, but also myths and legends. This particular album, as the title may have implied to you, is about the Knights Templar.

Grave Digger are a band I know well and like most they have their excellent albums as well as the ones that aren't so special. The Middle Ages Trilogy is usually considered to be some of their best work though. It was a surprise to me therefore how less immediate Knights of the Cross was for me compared to its companions Tunes of War and Excalibur, both of which quickly asserted themselves as two of Grave Digger's best albums. Persistent listens have proven rewarding though, to the point that I can consider Knights of the Cross to be almost on par with the other two albums of the trilogy. It's a great Grave Digger releases with many memorable tracks such as Monks of War, Fanatic Assassins, Lionheart and The Curse of Jacques.

However I also think that it doesn't stand out quite so well in their discography as the other two Middle Ages albums do. Tunes of War dealt with Scottish history, so they included Scottish bagpipes into their sound on it. Excalibur dealt with the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, so they included some medieval sounding folk parts into it (a massive factor in that being my favourite Grave Digger album). However in comparison there isn't really anything much on Knights of the Cross to give it that unique feel. There's a very brief folk part at the start of The Battle of Bannockburn but that's about it. It's a strong Grave Digger album, but it's also a very typical one, which means fast power metal riffs that aren't as squeaky clean on the production front as is typical for most brands of European power metal, strong traditional metal elements and of course the rather rough vocals of Chris Boltendahl who despite his vocal style still manages to make these songs pretty damn catchy in true power metal fashion. I might even rate it more than I do, did the group's two best albums not bookend it.
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adg211288 wrote:
more than 2 years ago
They've gradually worked their way up to become one of my favourite bands. Excalibur is my favourite, followed by Tunes of War. The last non-re-recordings album Return of the Reaper was also excellent.
siLLy puPPy wrote:
more than 2 years ago
A band i've heard of but not at all familiar with. Sounds like something to check out. Great review :)

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