Label: Rock of Angels Records
Date: August 26th, 2022
When in doubt, go to Holy Land. Elsewhere, Britain. In the meantime, you can look around but remember to go back to the mentioned two.
I’ve got a feeling these words are inscribed on a prominent place in Grave Digger’s headquarters. We’ve had two “Scottish” albums, plus “Excalibur”, that were obviously inspired by British history. “Symbol of Eternity” is the second one that concerns the crusades. With “The Last Supper” looking at the same geographical area, Biblical as it is, it makes three in the holy land.
Out of the whole history of humankind, Mr. Boltendahl and “the Diggers” seem quite focused on the pair. Or is it that they are desperately trying to emulate the two most successful Grave Digger records, “Tunes of War” and “Knights of the Cross”? Then again, these types of forced attempts are usually no good, while Grave Digger keeps a certain level of creativity throughout their four decades of existence. The same goes for “Symbol of Eternity”.
Of course, there’s no real need to describe what Grave Digger is performing or how their new album sounds. If you heard them once, you heard them just about enough times to know what they sound like. The new record keeps to the genre this band helped invent; the audial personification of pure heavy metal. The theme, as already mentioned, is the holy war of the middle ages. Only this time, the legendary Germans keep to the history of crusades, instead of focusing on the story of knights of the temple, as was the case on “Knights of the Cross”. Also, the Muslim side of the story appears quite prominently on “Symbol of Eternity”, which was not the case previously. There’s talk of sieges of Akkon and Jerusalem, sultan Saladin, Spanish inquisition…
A diversified record, thematically speaking, which is great, considering the sheer vastness of the whole tale of the crusades. Which is, incidentally, one of the dearest pieces of history to your faithful reviewer. Plus, Grave Digger is a band that was always close to my metal heart. Hence, you get a heavy metal love story that cannot fail.
Sort of… “Symbol of Eternity” is most definitely not “Knights of the Cross”. Musically, first and foremost. While the new record offers a decent amount of quality solutions, it lacks the abundance of catchy moments its thematic predecessor possessed. Apart of several choruses that call for singing along, the rest is easily forgettable. And even those choruses are nowhere near “Monks of War”, “Baphomet” or “Battle of Bannockburn”, no matter how cool sounding they are. On the other hand, Grave Digger complemented the Muslim topics with neat sounding Middle Eastern melodies, thus enhancing the experience, coming close to an actual rock opera feeling.
But the most important aspect of the new Grave Digger record is that it doesn’t disappoint. Sure, it is a rehash of the music and topic they’ve already covered. But it is not a bad album. Not even close! It is very good, even if it falls very short of their classics. And that’s the best thing you can say about the Germans. They are yet to fail miserably, like most of their contemporaries have already done. Over forty years of career, twenty one album behind, countless tours… They’ve dug up many a grave, but their own is but a field of green with no shovel in sight.