Grave Digger

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Grave Digger
Grave Digger at Metalcamp 2007
Grave Digger at Metalcamp 2007
General information
origin Gladbeck , Germany
Genre (s) Heavy metal , power metal , folk metal
founding 1980
Founding members
Chris Boltendahl
Peter Masson (until 1986)
Phillip Seibel (until 1983)
Current occupation
Chris Boltendahl
Axel Ritt (since 2009)
Jens Becker (since 1997)
(since 2014)
(since 2018)
Marcus Kniep (since 2014)
former members
Albert Eckardt (1984–1987)
Willi Lackmann (1983–1984)
René T. Bone (1984–1985)
CF Brank (1985-1987)
Uwe Lulis (1986-2000)
Tomi Göttlich (1991–1997)
Peter Breitenbach (1991–1992)
Jörg Michael (1992–1994)
Frank Ullrich (1994-1996)
Thilo Hermann (2007-2009)
Manni Schmidt (2000-2009)
Hans-Peter Katzenburg (1996-2014)
Stefan Arnold (1996-2018)

Grave Digger ( engl. , Gravedigger ') is a German Metal - band from Gladbeck .

Band history

Establishment and the 1980s

Grave Digger was founded at the end of 1980. After various appearances at smaller festivals, the band recorded two songs for the compilation Rock from Hell in 1983 with the line-up Chris Boltendahl , Peter Masson, Willi Lackmann and Phillip Seibel . In May 1984 Grave Digger released (now with Albert Eckardt on drums) their debut album Heavy Metal Breakdown .

1985 her second album Witch Hunter followed . Further festival appearances, a tour together with Helloween in June 1985 and finally a triple headliner tour with Celtic Frost and Helloween in February 1986 followed shortly before in January 1986 the third album War Games (for the first time with CF Brank on bass) was released came. After Peter Masson left in May 1986, they changed their name to Digger at the end of 1986, under which they released the album Stronger than Ever with Uwe Lulis on guitar . This album has little in common with the original Grave Digger music. Rather, it is an attempt to reach the masses with mainstream rock in the style of Bon Jovi or Van Halen . As the album flopped, Chris Boltendahl announced the breakup of the band in late 1987.

Reunion and the 1990s

In 1991 the band partially got back together. Chris Boltendahl and Uwe Lulis initially recorded the EP Ride On - For Promotion Only with the newcomers Tomi Göttlich and Peter Breitenbach ( Warhead ) . The latter was soon replaced by Jörg Michael, who had already drummed with Rage and Running Wild , and their comeback record The Reaper came about, with which Grave Digger returned to their origins. In the same year, Best of the Eighties , a best-of album of the earlier works, came out.

In 1994 the album Symphony of Death followed , the second but also the last with Jörg Michael on drums. Then Grave Digger played a tour through Germany with their new drummer Frank Ullrich. a. as opening act for Manowar . In 1995 Heart of Darkness was released , a very dark album with influences from the earlier works of Annihilator .

The concept album Tunes of War , which was released in 1996 with Stefan Arnold as the new drummer and dealt with Scottish history , was the beginning of the medieval trilogy consisting of concept albums. This was continued with the 1997 album Knights of the Cross with Jens Becker (ex-Running Wild) on bass, which dealt with the rise and fall of the Knights Templar . The trilogy ended in 1999 with the album Excalibur , which dealt with the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table . This was followed by a world tour with Hans-Peter Katzenburg as keyboard player, who was already a guest on "Tunes Of War" and soon after became a permanent member of the band. Until 2014, the tall man was always in a black hooded cape and a silver skull mask as a "reaper" on stage and in the booklets of the albums. He was always given as "HP Katzenburg". His successor, Marcus Kniep, initially continued the tradition of the "reaper".


In 2000, Grave Digger celebrated their twentieth anniversary and on 11 November played a concert in the Bochum colliery that was sold out. The band's most popular songs were offered, supplemented by songs that were rarely played. Grave Digger also received support from various guest musicians. This concert marks a chapter in the band's history, also because shortly afterwards Uwe Lulis left the band for personal and business reasons. After his time at Grave Digger, Lulis formed the band Rebellion .

A replacement was found in the ex- Rage guitarist Manni Schmidt . With him and under the new record label Nuclear Blast , The Grave Digger was released in 2001 . The works of Edgar Allan Poe served as inspiration for the lyrics of this album . In 2002 the first live album Tunes of Wacken and also the first DVD with the appearance at the Wacken Open Air 2001 came on the market. Two years later, another concept album, Rheingold, was released, which revolves around Richard Wagner's opera Der Ring des Nibelungen .

After the successful Rheingold tour with Symphorce and Wizard in the opening act went into the studio for the next album The Last Supper ( Engl ., The Last Supper ') that its predecessor is like a concept album. It deals with the last days of Jesus Christ . Some journalists describe the work as the best album since Tunes of War or Heavy Metal Breakdown . The cover was designed for the first time by Gyula Havancsak. The album was released on January 17th, 2005, the tour with StormHammer and Astral Doors began on February 11th in Andernach , the birthplace of Manni Schmidt.

The performance in São Paulo was recorded on May 7, 2005 on the Last Supper Tour and was released in October 2005 on a live DVD entitled 25 to Live for the 25th anniversary of the band. The playing time of the DVD is around 2 hours and 30 minutes. The concert's set list also includes classics and songs that have not been played for a long time, such as Witch Hunter , Paradise and Shoot Her Down . A double live CD of the same name was also released at the same time.

In early 2006, Grave Digger switched from Nuclear Blast to the Spanish label Locomotive Records . On September 29th the new single was released , a newly recorded version of the song Yesterday . It also includes a free live DVD of the performance at the 2001 Rock Machina Festival in Spain . On January 12th 2007 a new album called Liberty or Death was released. A "double headliner" tour with Therion followed. Sabaton acted as the opening act . Grave Digger also played at the Wacken Open Air 2007. On the in- extremo-best-of-CD Kein Blick zurück , Grave Digger are represented with an English version of Der Rattenfänger . On October 8, 2007, Grave Digger announced on their homepage in a competition that they would take on a second guitarist in the band. This is Thilo Hermann, formerly with Faithfull Breath , Risk , Holy Moses and Running Wild. Hermann already played live with the band and also took part in the following album, which was released on January 9, 2009 under the title Ballads of a Hangman . Already in February 2009 the new guitarist left, according to the band not because of "interpersonal problems", but because of several factual issues, "from the space on the stage to musical aspects".


In September 2009 guitarist Manni Schmidt left the band. Since the band still had a few concert bookings for the current year, they decided in October 2009 to bring Axel Ritt (a long-time friend of Chris) into the band as a substitute on guitar. The band played their first concert with Axel Ritt on guitar on October 24, 2009 in Gladbeck. In mid-January 2010, Axel Ritt was officially confirmed as the new »Grave Digger« guitarist on the band's website.

In 2010 the band played their 30th anniversary concert at Wacken Open Air . Guests were u. a. Doro Pesch , Hansi Kürsch and Van Canto . On March 4th, 2011, the anniversary concert was released as a live DVD and CD under the name The Clans Are Still Marching . Shortly afterwards, on October 1, 2010, the album The Clans Will Rise Again was released .

On the album Tribe of Force by the band Van Canto , which was released on February 26, 2010, Chris Boltendahl sings the song Rebellion together with the band. The album is distributed by Napalm Records.

The band provides the anthem for the Wacken Open Air 2011: Wacken Will Never Die .

Grave Digger at the concert in Berlin 2015

In autumn 2011, Grave Digger worked together with the Norwegian singer Anita Hegerland on a heavy metal interpretation of the title "It's great to be in the world", which Hegerland published forty years ago with Roy Black. This version was released on October 21, 2011.

In 2012, Clash of the Gods was the band's seventeenth album, which, thematically and musically, shows no break, but shows a strong change. The Scottish-English folklore influences (history, bagpipe interludes ...) that were predominant on the previous albums disappeared, but the songs now revolved around ancient Greek mythology, and traditional Greek elements also appeared in the music.

In 2014 the concept-free album "Return of the Reaper" was released. Shortly thereafter, HP Katzenburg announced his departure from the band, as he could not find enough time for Grave Digger due to other professional and musical ties. His successor is Marcus Kniep.

In 2015 the band started a series of concerts on the occasion of the band's 35th anniversary, in which they mainly played songs from the 80s. The compilation Exhumation - The Early Years with a total of 15 old songs was also released on this occasion .

On Friday January 13th, 2017, the album "Healed By Metal", the 19th studio album by Grave Digger, was released.

In June 2018 the band announced the separation from long-time drummer Stefan Arnold after the recordings for the album "The Living Dead" were finished. In the course of this, Marcus Kniep switched from keyboard to drums, and the band has performed as a quartet ever since.


Studio albums

  • 1984: Heavy Metal Breakdown
  • 1985: Witch Hunter
  • 1986: War Games
  • 1987: Stronger than Ever (under the band name Digger)
  • 1993: The Reaper
  • 1994: Symphony of Death (EP)
year title Top ranking, total weeks, awardChart placementsChart placements
(Year, title, rankings, weeks, awards, notes)
1995 Heart of Darkness DE73 (8 weeks)
- -
1996 Tunes of War DE81 (4 weeks)
- -
1998 Knights of the Cross DE38 (3 weeks)
- -
1999 Excalibur DE21 (4 weeks)
- -
2001 The Grave Digger DE47 (2 weeks)
- -
2003 Rheingold DE44 (2 weeks)
- -
2005 The Last Supper DE39 (2 weeks)
- -
2007 Liberty or Death DE30 (3 weeks)
- -
2009 Ballads of a Hangman DE31 (3 weeks)
AT74 (1 week)
CH81 (1 week)
2010 The Clans Will Rise Again DE28 (2 weeks)
- CH86 (1 week)
2011 The Clans Are Still Marching DE56 (1 week)
- -
Live album
2012 Clash of the Gods DE29 (1 week)
- CH71 (1 week)
2014 Return of the Reaper DE16 (3 weeks)
AT59 (1 week)
CH34 (1 week)
2017 Healed by metal DE15 (2 weeks)
- CH45 (1 week)
2018 The Living Dead DE21 (1 week)
- CH41 (1 week)
2020 Fields of Blood DE17 (... weeks)
Template: chart table / maintenance / provisional / 2020DE
AT67 (1 week)
CH17 (2 weeks)

Compilations / Live Albums

  • 1993: Best of the Eighties (compilation)
  • 2002: Tunes of Wacken (Live)
  • 2002: The Middle Age Trilogy (box set)
  • 2002: The History Part One (compilation)
  • 2002: Masterpieces (compilation plus DVD)
  • 2002: Grave Digger - The Definitive Biography (bonus CD for the book)
  • 2003: Lost Tunes from the Vault (compilation)
  • 2005: 25 to Live (live double CD)
  • 2015: Exhumation - The Early Years (compilation)

Singles and EPs

  • 1984: Shoot Her Down
  • 1993: Ride On (Promo)
  • 1996: Rebellion (The Clans Are Marching) (Promo)
  • 1997: The Dark of the Sun ( EP )
  • 1999: The Round Table (Forever)
  • 2006: Yesterday '06
  • 2008: Pray
  • 2011: The Ballad of Mary (Queen of Scots)
  • 2012: Home at Last

Sampler contributions

  • 1983: Violence and 2000 Lightyears from Home on Rock from Hell
  • 1985: Shine On and Tears of Blood on Metal Attack
  • 1999: Starlight on Tribute to Accept Vol. 1
  • 1999: We Rock on Holy Dio - A Tribute to Ronnie James Dio
  • 2002: Running Free on Tribute to the Beast - Iron Maiden (re-released in 2005 on Cover It Up Vol. 1 )
  • 2002: No Quarter on The Music Remains the Same - A Metal Tribute to Led Zeppelin

Video albums

  • 2002: Tunes of Wacken Live (DVD)
  • 2002: Masterpieces (DVD plus CD)
  • 2005: 25 to Live (as CD and DVD as well as CD + DVD in limited edition)
  • 2011: The Clans Are Still Marching (Live recording from the Wacken Festival 2010)


Web links

Commons : Grave Digger  - album with pictures, videos and audio files


  1. Archive link ( Memento of the original from October 14, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  2. Wacken Open Air: W: O: A Hymne 2011 - Wacken Will Never Die ( Memento of the original from May 2, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. dated April 27, 2011 (accessed May 10, 2011) @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  4. Chart sources: Germany - Austria - Switzerland