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Grave Digger - "Home At Last" (CD/EP)

Grave Digger - "Home At Last" CD/EP cover image

"Home At Last" track listing:

1. Home At Last
2. Rage Of The Savage Beast
3. Metal Will Never Die
4. Ballad Of A Hangman (Live)
5. Excalibur (Live)
6. Heavy Metal Breakdown (Live)

Reviewed by on July 8, 2012

"By its very nature, this is not a stand-alone release. It’s a harbinger of “Clash Of The Gods,” an ominous gust before the storm."

With upcoming studio album “Clash Of The Gods” due for release in late August, it seems a tad late for the likes of “Home At Last” – diehard Grave Digger fans certainly could’ve used such a stopgap EP earlier in the year – but certainly better than never. Metal’s festival-centered summer culture is a speedy, hectic swarm of activity, which this brief, focused, hit-and-run effort properly reflects, while serving as a reminder of what is imminent from these German veterans.

In a nifty reversal, the album closer on “Clash Of The Gods” serves here as the titular lead track. It’s a fitting choice when measured against the two accompanying bonus songs, “Rage Of The Savage Beast” and “Metal Will Never Die.” All three belong to the mid-tempo, anthemic variety that regularly provokes sustained crowd chants and widespread clapping, at least among those without a giant beer stein to wave. This lasting fixture of traditional metal is a noted staple of Grave Digger’s songwriting repertoire, but by no means its only one.

Unfortunately, the uninitiated won’t taste the full spectrum here, as a sampling of the band’s thunderous speed and full-on-metal power is conspicuously absent. That element is left to the disc’s second half, which fans may have previously heard on last year’s “The Clans Are Still Marching,” a live recording of Grave Digger’s full-length Wacken 2010 set. The recycled classic cuts, “Ballad Of A Hangman,” “Excalibur,” and “Heavy Metal Breakdown,” faithfully distill three separate decades of the band’s history, while capturing the unique magic of an outdoor European metal festival at the height of summer. It’s difficult to simultaneously represent such a storied past and foreshadow the future on a mere six-track EP without leaving anything out, and while “Home At Last” isn’t perfect, the band does its considerable best in catering to everyone.

By its very nature, this is not a stand-alone release. It’s a harbinger of “Clash Of The Gods,” an ominous gust before the storm. Years hence, it may be viewed as a mere appendage, duly affixed to special editions as bonus tracks. Or it may fade into obscurity as a rare, treasured collector’s item. Either way, “Home At Last” is not, and likely never will be, required listening for fans of any age. However, in the moment, with another full-length fix just on the horizon, is it worth a few listens? You bet it is.

Highs: Three stellar new tracks, and three unbeatable live renditions of earlier classics from the '80s, '90s, and '00s.

Lows: The new songs stick safely (and repetitively) in the traditional, mid-tempo "anthem" zone while ignoring the band's dangerous speed metal capabilities; the live cuts are lifted from a previous release.

Bottom line: German heavy metal standard bearers herald their forthcoming album "Clash Of The Gods" with a small taste of the near future, as well as a crash course in their 30+ year past.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)