Why a guy from Germany has a boundless fascination with Scottish ancestral history might well stump some folk, but Chris Boltendahl does have a genuine interest in the history of the northern lands.
His passion surfaced back in 1996 with the critically acclaimed ‘Tunes Of War’ album but lay dormant until last year’s ‘The Clans Will Rise Again’. With the two records thematically linked among a mass back catalogue of records dating back to 1984, Grave Digger have bundled their Scottish concepts into one basket by selecting two songs from each album and re-recording the old ‘Tunes Of War’ material with exciting guest vocalists, essentially creating an EP that makes sense.
German heavy metal icon Doro Pesch features in the beautiful opening remake of ‘The Ballad Of Mary’, layering lush harmonies over Boltendahl’s trademark vocal gruffness and flourishing in her own mournful solo parts. There’s also an ‘extended symphonic’ version of ‘The Ballad Of Mary’ in the middle of the EP which in truth, doesn’t vary wildly from the re-recorded version.
However, the involvement of Blind Guardian’s Hansi Kursch is welcomed on ‘Rebellion’. The track demonstrates just how two starkly opposed vocal styles can together completely re-jumble the atmosphere of a song. The stern palm-mute guitar verses and epic chorus bring a more modern power metal feel than the original rendition. It’s only criticism is it’s jarred, premature end. One of the best if not the best track on Grave Digger’s last full-length attempt, ‘Highland Farewell’ has it’s verses severed in this version, giving that flamboyant chorus an increased impact when it finally hits home. The more traditional metal orientated ‘Coming Home’ also has purely instrumental verses but perfectly rounds off a nice slice of Scottish defiance!