(9/10) Grave Digger are accompanying my metal life already since the "Heavy Metal Breakdown" days. I can remember going to school, when one of my friends recommended this album to me. He said, that I need to check-out these guys. It have been the days, when bands like Stormwitch, Helloween, Tyrant Pace and Running Wild started a new decade of German heavy metal. Grave Digger belonged to those groups and they are the only of the little that survived. Yes, Stormwitch had many comeback (before they now disband again) and also Running Wild came back with some new material a whilke ago, but none of those bands had a consistency as Grave Digger showed it during the last decades.
A main factor for all this is Chris Boltendahl and his passion for power metal. And it's his rough and incomperable voice that was and is one of the crucial Grave Digger trademarks.
Such a successful band history screams for a compilation that focusses on the earlier years and lucky enough the band and Napalm Records shared the same way of thinking.
So welcome to traveling back in time into the early 80's. Each of the songs on this album has been newly recorded which gives the older tracks some new life. "Exhumation - The Early Years" is full of songs that had an impact on the further development of the German metal scene.
One of the oldest tracks on this compilation is "Shoot Her Down" from the 1982 demo. This raw metal monster fits perfect into the context of this album and shows the high level the band had already in those very early days.
My highlights found a spot on the longplayer too. "Headbanging Man" and "Heavy Metal Breakdown" are my personal Top Two of the Grave Digger and unnecessary to say that those tracks rock also on this compilation.
There was one crucial moment in Grave Digger's existance that decided about success or failure. In the mid of the eighties there was a tendency to commercialise German metal. This led to Stormwitch's "The Beauty And The Beast" and also Grave Digger had such an album. But the guys have been smart enough to release it under the header of Digger. "Stronger Than Ever", this album led to a real outcry in the scene and it became the most discussed record in the bands discography. There was a kind of robot Donald Duck on the cover (seriously!) and the songs got quite some melodies, mainly done by added keyboards. It fely more like Bon Jovi than Grave Digger. The band hit the road after this expermient and returned to the old trademarks which was the first step into a long lasting career.
Nowadays "Stronger Than Ever" became a rare record that's almost impossible to get. But in the end the best track of the album at least found a spot on the tracklist of this compilation too. And actually "Stand Up And Rock" is a pretty cool song - esp. in this re-recorded version.
I still like Grave Digger's music. If someone plays true metal, than it's Grave Digger. Passion rules when it comes to Boltendahl and his bandmates and it's this dedication that keeps them going on and on. Something that deserves respect.
"Exhumation - The Early Days" is an awesome journey back in time for 'older' fans and it is an excellent compilation for young dudes that want get a serious collection of genre influencing metal music.
- Headbanging Man
- Fire In Your Eyes
- Witch Hunter
- Shoot Her Down
- Stand Up And Rock
- Heavy Metal Breakdown
- Enola Gay - Drop The Bomb
- Get Away
- We Wanna Rock You
- Playing Fools
- Here I Stand
Label: Napalm Records
Genre: Heavy Metal
Release Date EU: October 23rd, 2015