This might come as a surprise to many Americans, but just as so many '80s glam metal bands (Skid Row, Ratt, Dokken, etc.) have continued to tour and release LPs long after their prime, so does a large contingent of European groups from roughly the same time frame -- though one can confidently say those across the pond are nowhere near as decadent as their American counterparts. These are acts of mostly German origin: Rage, Sinner, and for our purposes here, Grave Digger, who had an important hand in classic metal's transition into power metal by way of thrash, and which, because they never quite nailed that formula as well as others, eventually reverted to a more traditional, though still hybrid style of what is frequently dubbed "legacy" metal. Grave Digger's career exemplifies this trajectory as well as any, and following a pair of distinctly thrashier efforts spurred by the arrival of former Rage guitarist Manni Schmidt, 2005's The Last Supper -- the band's 11th studio album -- marks a return to that "vintage" heavy metal sound. This is characterized by the memorably anthemic choruses of the Saxon-esque "The Night Before" and "Grave in the No Man's Land" (which tears down and rebuilds Metallica's "Enter Sandman" riff), majestic dual guitar harmonies ("Crucified," "Divided Cross"), a few galloping speed metal exercises ("Desert Rose," "Hell to Pay," "Black Widows"), yes, and as if you hadn't already noticed, frequent lyrical allusions to Christ's final hours (the title track, "Soul Savior," etc.), though bandleader Chris Boltendahl stressed that this is not a full concept album. Wrap it all up with a suitably dramatic power ballad called "Always and Eternally" and you have a textbook example of European heavy metal, begging the inevitable question: why mess with a winning formula? Why indeed.
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia