GRAVE DIGGER – Tackles Germany’s Ugly History, And More

March 6, 2007, 10 years ago

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On the new album Liberty Or Death (Locomotive), legendary German power metallers GRAVE DIGGER examine ten real-life instances where the pursuit of liberty involved bloodshed, from the French Revolution, to Ivan The Terrible’s czarist Russia and another turn at Scottish independence (aka William Wallace/Braveheart). A man of conviction, Chris Boltendahl isn’t afraid to sings about a somewhat taboo subject (especially for a German), the Jews in WW II. Make no mistake, he’s as appalled by the events as is the rest of civilization. “There are actually two songs about Germany, in the Second World War on this record.”

Not only does ‘March Of The Innocent’ reflect “the walk of the Jews, and what they might be thinking, as they walk into the gas chamber,” but the bonus track ‘Ship Of Hope’ concerns the SS. St. Louis (aka Voyage Of The Damned), the ’39 boatload of 1000 German-Jewish refugees who sailed the Atlantic, hoping for safe haven in Cuba or the US. Ultimately, they were denied, returned to Germany and met a terrible fate.

Even before the current US military action(s), the Middle East has long been a hotbed of strife. A theme within a theme, there are no less than 4 lessons in Judeo history played out on Liberty Or Death, including the disc ending ‘Massada,’ (sic) recounting the location of a first century mass suicide. “I was impressed by the story of nearly 1000 people (men, women and children) on this big rock (fortress) who’d rather commit suicide than be taken prisoner by the Romans. I’ve never read a history story in the history of man, so it perfectly fit the concept of liberty or death. It also sort of ties in with the cover concept, that liberty is built on the foundation of death (sacrifice). I hope people understand that.”

The final of the four installments is the Biblical passage of Moses, leading his people out of Egypt. A big Charlton Heston fan (“I love Ben Hur!”), Boltendahl admits the impetus was the Red Sea parting scene in The Ten Commandments. “It was not calculated, to do a lot of songs about Jews, but once I had all the ideas for lyrics, the stories were interesting.”

Watch for a full interview with Chris Boltendahl in an upcoming issue of BW&BK; magazine.

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