GRAVE DIGGER: Chris Boltendahl - Vocals Axel Ritt - Guitars Stefan Arnold - Drums Jens Becker - Bass Hans Peter Katzenburg - Keyboards The beginnings of Grave Digger date back to 1980. After various appearances at small festivals, the band, comprising Chris Boltendahl, Peter Masson, Willi Lackmann and Albert Eckardt, recorded a song for the compilation album Ã¢â‚¬Å“Rock from HellÃ¢â‚¬Â in 1983. A year later, Grave Digger released their debut album Ã¢â‚¬Å“Heavy Metal BreakdownÃ¢â‚¬Â. They released their second album Ã¢â‚¬Å“Witch HunterÃ¢â‚¬Â in 1985. After this album was completed, Eckardt left the band; he was replaced by C.F. Brank. Further festival appearances, a tour as the supporting act for Helloween, and a triple headlining tour with Celtic Frost and Helloween, followed before the release of the third album Ã¢â‚¬Å“War GamesÃ¢â‚¬Â in January 1986. Thereafter, Peter Masson gave way to Uwe Lulis; in 1987 the band's name was changed to Digger, the name under which they released the album Ã¢â‚¬Å“Stronger than EverÃ¢â‚¬Â. This album hardly had anything in common with the earlier music of Grave Digger. It was more an attempt to reach the masses with mainstream rock like that of Bon Jovi or Van Halen. The album flopped, as it was not readily accepted by fans nor the mainstream. As a result, Chris Boltendahl declared the break up of the band at the end of 1987. However, the band partially reformed in 1991. Chris Boltendahl and Uwe Lulis, along with two newcomers, Tomi GÃƒÂ¶ttlich and JÃƒÂ¶rg Michael, who had been the drummers for Rage and Running Wild, released a comeback record, Ã¢â‚¬Å“The ReaperÃ¢â‚¬Â. The title song returned to the true roots of Grave Digger. In the same year, the album Ã¢â‚¬Å“Best of the EightiesÃ¢â‚¬Â was released and comprised a quasi Best-of-Album of their earlier songs. The album Ã¢â‚¬Å“Symphony of DeathÃ¢â‚¬Â followed in 1994. In the meantime, Grave Digger, now with a new drummer, Frank Ullrich, toured Germany, playing as the supporting act for Manowar. In 1995, the album Ã¢â‚¬Å“Heart of DarknessÃ¢â‚¬Â was releasedÃ¢â‚¬â€a very dark album influenced by the early works of Annihilator. In 1996, Stefan Arnold became the band's new drummer. This year also marked the release of the concept album Ã¢â‚¬Å“Tunes of WarÃ¢â‚¬Â, which dealt with the early history of Scotland. The album was part one of the Middle Ages Trilogy. The second album, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Knights of the CrossÃ¢â‚¬Â, with Jens Becker on bass, was completed in 1997 and was about the rise and fall of the Knights Templar. The third and final part of the trilogy, Ã¢â‚¬Å“ExcaliburÃ¢â‚¬Â, completed in 1999, explored the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Shortly after the release of Ã¢â‚¬Å“ExcaliburÃ¢â‚¬Â, the band embarked on a world tour and was joined by keyboardist Hans-Peter Katzenburg, who later became a permanent bandmember. In 2000, Grave Digger celebrated their 20th anniversary. To mark the occasion, they performed a sold-out concert at the Zeche in Bochum. This concert marked a defining chapter in the band's history, as Uwe Lulis left the band shortly before the show due to both personal and business-related differences. A replacement was found in ex-Rage guitarist Manni Schmidt, who first appears on the 2001 Nuclear Blast release Ã¢â‚¬Å“The Grave DiggerÃ¢â‚¬Â. The works of Edgar Allan Poe served as an inspiration for the lyrics of the album. Their first live album, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Tunes of WackenÃ¢â‚¬Â, was released in 2002. It was coupled with the release of their first DVD, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Wacken Open AirÃ¢â‚¬Â. About a year later, the next concept album followed. Ã¢â‚¬Å“RheingoldÃ¢â‚¬Â centered on the opera Ã¢â‚¬Å“Der Ring der NibelungenÃ¢â‚¬Â by Richard Wagner. After the successful Rheingold-Tour the band recorded a new album, Ã¢â‚¬Å“The Last SupperÃ¢â‚¬Â. Journalists hailed it as the best since Ã¢â‚¬Å“Tunes of WarÃ¢â‚¬Â or Ã¢â‚¬Å“Heavy Metal BreakdownÃ¢â‚¬Â. For the cover artwork, the band turned to artist Gyula Havanscak. The album was released in January 2005. Less than a month later, the band embarked on a tour with Stormhammer and Astral Doors. October 2005 saw the release of a live DVD recording of the Last Supper Tour and the Sao Paulo concert. The title, Ã¢â‚¬Å“25 to LiveÃ¢â‚¬Â, commemorates the band's 25th anniversary. In early 2006, Grave Digger signed a deal with the Spanish label Locomotive Records. The single Ã¢â‚¬Å“YesterdayÃ¢â‚¬Â was released on 29 September including a re-recorded version of the title track. As a special bonus, a live DVD was also included. January 12, 2007 saw the release of Ã¢â‚¬Å“Liberty or DeathÃ¢â‚¬Â and later that year, Grave Digger performed at the legendary Wacken Open Air. In October, a new member joined the Grave Digger family. Thilo Hermann (ex-Running Wild) became the second guitarist. After finishing the songwriting process for the bandÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s latest album, Grave Digger entered Principal Studio in Munster to record the new songs under the powerful guidance of the Resetti brothers. Grave Digger also split with Locomotive, making way for a worldwide record deal with Napalm Records. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Ballads of a HangmanÃ¢â‚¬Â was released in the summer of 2009 and took the charts by storm. Besides entering the charts in Austria and Switzerland, it reached number 31 in the German Media Control ChartsÃ¢â‚¬â€a testament to Grave Digger welcoming new headbangers to their clan of dedicated fans. The press was more than impressed by the new album, showering the band with outstanding reviews and a many feature articles. Fueled by the tremendous feedback, they embarked on an extensive tour, also playing selected shows at numerous European festivals. Upon their return, Grave Digger took a short break, before starting to write new songs for their next album. Due to personal and musical differences, both guitarists Thilo Hermann and Manni Schmidt left the band, prior to entering the studio. Axel Ritt took over all guitar duties and brought a newfound energy and enthusiasm to the band. With a new member in their ranks, Grave Digger entered Principal Studio in Senden to record Ã¢â‚¬Å“The Clans Will Rise AgainÃ¢â‚¬Â. With the mere first notes of the introduction, fans of Grave Digger will know they have returned to the Scottish Highlands! The majestic sound of bagpipes stylistically establishes the direction of the German power metal institution's latest album. "The Clans Will Rise Again" is a formidable and compact work, in which no one song outdoes another. Yet tracks like "Paid in Blood", "Hammer of the Scots", or "Rebels" will undoubtedly grab on to the most discerning metalhead with their unstoppable mix of heavy metal riffs, driving double bass and catchy choruses. Kilt-wearing fans will find "Highland Farewell" their personal favorite, as the bagpipe takes on a leading role and gives the track its unique flair. Grave Digger's newest addition, guitarist Axel Ritt, rejuvenates the band revolving around legendary frontman and scene grandee Chris Boltendahl, and provides them with a fresh and energy-laden springboard from which to launch their latest attack. Scotland provides Grave Digger with plenty of lyrical inspiration, ranging from its sheer mystique to its proud people. It also allows them to once again return to the glory days of "Tunes of War", an album that previously visited Scotland's colorful history. "The Clans Will Rise Again" presents a band that has managed to mark their 30th anniversary with yet another musical milestone.
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