Does anyone remember the 1983 movie, “A Christmas Story”? Of course you do, they only show it 25,000 times during the holiday season. In the movie there is a scene when the little boy rushes to the bathroom with his newly acquired decoder to reveal the important secret message from his favorite radio show, to find that the so called important message is nothing more than a crappy commercial. His words of frustration in finding this out are “son-of-a-bitch”. Why do I tell you this, because this is exactly my sentiments of frustration once I listened to “The Ballad of Mary”, the latest EP from Germany’s 30 plus year metal vets, Grave Digger.
Get the full son-of-a-bitch breakdown here.
Lets go ahead and get this out right from the start. “The Ballad of Mary” is flat out a pointless and unnecessary EP. Out of the five tracks on the EP, only two are really proper songs, “The Ballad of Mary” and “Rebellion”, and they are actually re-recordings of tracks from the 1996 album “Tunes of War”. The two tracks are really good songs and the including of Doro Pesch on the title track, and Blind Guardian‘s Hansi Kursch on “Rebellion”, plus Van Canto on both, are really interesting, especially “Rebellion”, where Hansi’s vocals mix very well with Grave Digger’s main stay vocalist, Chris Boltendahl, and the bagpipe lead simply slays. The rest of the release is comprised of “The Ballad of Mary (extended symphonic)”, and two tracks from last years “The Clans Will Rise” album, sans lead vocals. I’m not really sure why these two tracks are presented in what is basically a Grave Digger karaoke format. I do understand the connection this EP is trying to make, as 2010’s “The Clans Will Rise” is a loose sequel to the “Tunes of War” LP, and this EP is obviously here to create interest and awareness to both LP’s, but honestly, who the hell needs karaoke versions of power metal at their next party?
Grave Digger have been producing there own style of power, traditional, and sometimes cheesy metal for over 30 years now, and I do recommend their fun and somehow classy take on metal provided in their albums, but not on this EP. I can only recommend this to total diehards of either the band, Doro, or Blind Guardian/ Hansi Kursch fanatics. To all others, hear my frustration…son-of-a-bitch.