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On Wings of Destiny with Grave Digger

On Wings of Destiny with Grave Digger

On Wings of Destiny with Grave Digger

Grave Digger have been an integral part of the German heavy metal scene for 4 decades and counting. On their latest album Symbol of Eternity, Grave Digger present the story of the Crusaders… after having dealt with it once before on the album Knights of the Cross, they devote themselves once again to the fabled history of the Templars.  Their 21st epic album in a grand and brilliant career within the realm of heavy metal, Symbol of Eternity presents Grave Digger in their finest hour.  Instant classics found within include Hell Is My Purgatory, King Of The Kings, Battle Cry and more!  Highwire Daze recently interviewed vocalist and founding member Chris Boltendahl to find out more about the epic Symbol of Eternity, now available worldwide via Rock Of Angels Records!

Is there any overall story or concept behind the Symbol of Eternity album title?
It’s a concept about the templars – the crusaders – and we deal with that in 1998 on the Knights of the Cross album – and the new one is the same topic but with another view. The first one Knights of the Cross was in a more historical way and the new one of written more from the might’s, the secrets, and the legends about the templars.

Let’s talk about a few of the songs and videos from the new album. Hell Is My Purgatory is such a great song. Tell me a little about that song and video and the inspiration behind it.
Hell Is My Purgatory is one song off the album which represents the direction of the album in a very good way. It has a good chorus, a good main riff, very catchy vocals, hard guitarists and drums, a really cool bass lick. And it’s a song about Jacques de Molay – he was one of the grand masters at the end of the order of the templars. He was killed – he was burned and betrayed – it was some kind of inquisition about them. And the video was shoot on the worst day here in Germany. It was snowing the whole day and it was minus five degrees – so you can see it’s not an effect in the video – so it’s real snow. Normally you have to pay a lot of money for that, but we got it for free. (Laughs)

And then the other single King Of The Kings – tell me a little about that one.
This is a song about Richard Lionheart – we also did a similar one on the Knights of the Cross album. But Richard Lionheart was an awesome person in middle age history and also with the templars. So, we made another song about this guy, and the video was filmed at the same day, so there’s the snow too. (Laughs) But it was really fun.

That does sound like fun. I live here in Los Angeles, and we never get snow.
Now you can watch the video and get all the snow you want in the videos!

Sounds good to me! For the Hellas Hellas cover – tell me a little about that and the inspiration behind it.
Oh, that is a long time ago and long story. In 1994, I was on Corinthia – a Greek Island – and for the first time I saw Vasilis Papakonstantinou live – the Greek artist. At the last encore, he played Hellas Hellas, and I was like, “Yeah, what a great song!” And from this time on, I decided to play it live every time when we played Greece. And now we’re on a Greek label and we had the possibility to get this artist for the album. It makes us really proud – and it’s also the first time I sing in the Greek language – it was not so easy to learn.

When was the last time you toured here in the United States, and would you like to tour here for Symbol of Eternity?
I think the pandemic makes it not easier touring in the US or in the world. It’s not so easy. But anyway, we would do it for sure, but there are so many facts we would have to solve for problems that I don’t think we will do it this year. Maybe next year – we’ll see. And we’ve toured two times over there with Blind Guardian – huge tours in 2015 and 2016. We played around 48 shows together on both tours.

It’s been 40 years since you released the very first Grave Digger demo. How does it feel that you’ve done anything at all for 40 years?
It’s amazing. I’m still alive – I can do what I want. It’s a gift that I can follow my life dream as a musician. It’s really awesome. It makes me proud every day. I’m a creative guy and I’m writing music. At the moment, I’m working on a solo album, so I have a lot of things to do.

Do you feel your previous albums Fields Of Blood received the proper recognition and promotion – especially because it was released during the pandemic?
We sold very well with this album – that’s for sure. It was very well accepted from the fans – and we are more or less playing from this album and promoting the and playing the new album.

Tell me a little about your other band Hellryder and what’s going on with them now.
The band is on ice, because I’m doing a solo album at the moment with different people. I’ve been working very hard on that, and it will sound like Grave Digger meets Metal Church – a little bit more from the power metal side this album. We are finishing the songwriting these days and starting with pre-production and recording. I think I will finish it at the end of the year with a release next year. And then we start in the middle of next year – perhaps Spring next year – we start writing a new Grave Digger album. But Hellryder is on hold now, but let’s see what the future will bring. I think for the next two years, my plans are full so far because I also have my own studio and studio jobs. So yeah, a lot of things.

You’ve been working with Jens Becker in Grave Digger since 1998. What do you think has made you and Jens work so well together after all of this time?
It’s respect for each other. He’s a really good bass player and he’s now 24 years in the band – such a long time – and let’s see what the future will bring. Because people are sometimes going different ways, but you don’t know what happened. There’s so many weird things that have happened through the pandemic, so these days are really crazy times.

What’s up next for Grave Digger?
We’re heading out for a couple of shows this year – we have another 13 shows this year – we are busy in August and September and then we play a one-off show in October and I’m mixing my solo album. Yes, there are a lot of things to do. Perhaps a tour in January next year – we will see.

And do you have any messages for Grave Digger fans here in the States?
Yes, stay healthy – that is the most important thing. Love Grave Digger and the new album Symbol of Eternity. Enjoy heavy metal – it will give you a good time – nothing else – only a good time listening to Symbol of Eternity. Stay tuned and stay metal!

Chris Boltendahl – Vocals
Axel Ritt – Guitars
Jens Becker – Bass
Marcus Kniep – Drums

(Interview by Ken Morton)

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