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By Martin Popoff
The addition of Manni Schmidt has also made a difference to the sound. Indeed the break with longtime axeman Uwe Lulis didn't go all that smoothly, with Lulis actually starting a band and using the fine Grave Digger name for a spell until cooler heads prevailed and he adopted the Rebellion tag.
"It was a very relaxed production," explains Boltendahl on the new album's sessions. "The composing process was also very relaxed. Manni Schmidt is also a very different guy personality-wise from Uwe. We started from point zero. We wrote all the music together, all the songs in seven days. We have a little studio in the Netherlands and we stayed there for four days, and the second time for three days and in this time we wrote all 12 songs. And we recorded the record very fast, in 14 days, and also in 14 days, we mixed it down. And then it took two days for mastering and then it was finished. Manni is more based in the sound of the old metal guys, Tony Iommi or Randy Rhoads, but also with a modern touch of Pantera or Crowbar. When he started with Grave Digger, he had nothing, because he was six years out of the scene. We bought an old Marshall from the '80s for him and also a Boss Distortion and Boss Chorus and that's all, and the sound is very natural. And I think his solos are much more melodic than Uwe's stuff, and I think he has a much wider range of playing different styles. I like it much more."
The Grave Digger also contains one of Boltendahl's famous (infamous?) ballads, this one called Silence, subject being some personal trauma Chris didn't want to get into. "Yes, I like to write ballads," notes Chris. "And for this one I wanted to go a little bit deeper into the '70s with a little touch of the new millennium. And for me the inspiration was Stairway To Heaven. Because I stopped drinking and smoking one year ago, now I can handle my voice much better and I'm more able to get my feelings and emotions out through my voice. A lot of people ask me, 'hey, who is guesting on this ballad?' and I say 'hey guys, it's me!' They couldn't believe it and it's a very big compliment to me. The motivation is just to write a good rock song."
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