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Digger - 1987 Stronger Than Ever



ARTIST: Digger
ALBUM: Stronger Than Ever
LABEL: Noise
SERIAL: N 0052
YEAR: 1987
CD REISSUE: 2005, Retrospect Records, RR-104

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Chris Boltendahl - vocals * Uwe Lulis - guitars * C.F. Brank - bass * Albert Eckardt - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Wanna Get Close * 02 Don't Leave Me Lonely * 03 Stronger Than Ever * 04 Monriders * 05 Lay It On * 06 I Don't Need Your Love * 07 Listen To The Music * 08 Stay Till The Morning * 09 Stand Up And Rock * 10 Shadows Of The Past


Background
German metallers Gravedigger are an institution in their homeland, releasing many HM albums during their time. Still going strong, the band are currently signed to Nuclear Blast, after spending many years with Noise Records. Their first album goes back to 1984, but who would've thought that the band would change their stripes, call themselves Digger, jump metal ship and release this highly palatable form of melodic hard rock during the era (1987) of thrash? Hardly indicative of their origins, the boys on the back cover look clean cut, with nigh on a metal stud or leather jacket in view. Love the cover too, with the metallic duck looking an absolute hoot (or should that be quack?). Their label Noise Records must've wondered what the heck was going on when the band opted for a name change and stylistic direction, however, with countrymen Accept doing so well in the larger markets, Digger's move could've been seen as an inspired punt.


The Songs
There is a clear thread of influence to Accept's mid 80's material, though singer Chris Boltendahl is much better (or should I say, more melodic) at this style than Udo Dirkschneider ever was. Occasionally, Boltendahl reverts to his metallic origins, and in some cases, the Digger songs are vocally a bit rough around the edges. Like razor blades dipped in honey.. lol! The arrangements are definitely melodic hard rock, as you can hear with supremo tunes like 'Don't Leave Me Lonely' and 'Listen To The Music', which contain some choice keyboard parts too. The title track is mid-paced for the most part, but the verse/chorus structure is great. There are riffs aplenty on 'Moonriders' but the melody is still apparent. 'Lay It On (The Line)' is the closest the band get to their metal/thrash origins, as this one slamdunks all the other songs (bar one, the equally rabid closer 'Shadows Of The Past') into purgatory! The poignant intro to 'I Don't Need Your Love' belies the metallic surge to be found further on in the song. 'Stay Till The Morning' features some cool riffing, which sees Digger cruising this song with restrained power. 'Stand Up And Rock' reminds me of obscure Swedes Norden Light, rough sounding vocals but with ND's penchant for sugaring things up with keyboards, that is the only point of difference to Digger.


In Summary
There are some good moments on this LP. Well worth having a listen, in particular 'Don't Leave Me Lonely' and 'Listen To The Music'. Changing their name and style didn't go down too well with the masses. The obvious 'sell out' was apparent to media and fans, and by years end Chris Boltendahl had called a halt to precedings. By 1991, Boltendahl had reformed Gravedigger, and the band began an assault on the HM world once again, which has continued in varying guises to this day.


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