Like wrapping yourself in a favourite old power metal blanket...
I must admit when I first found out in February 2015 that Peavey Wagner was calling it quits with Victor Smolski I knew I would be reminiscing about what should definitely be considered a golden era of Rage. I loved the mix of power and melody that the Rage albums are and enjoyed the operatic flavour that had become a staple with Victor in the line-up but obviously there was a difference in the directions that Peavey and Victor wished to take.
Peavey has rebuilt the band several times before over the life of Rage, and he is the constant since the beginning in 1984, when they were known as Avenger. In June 2015 it was announced that Rage was being recreated with new members Marcos Rodriguez and Vassilios “Lucky” Maniatopolous, both new members having grown up with Rage and now as they put it, are lucky enough to be getting to play in the band. Peavey indicated that he had several offers from some very established musicians to come on board, but with Marcos and Lucky he had a band that all pulled in the one direction again. So I was looking forward to what would come out as new material from the German power metallers. Luckily enough for me Sentinel Daily‘s Main Man, Scott Adams, asked me if I’d like to review the new album. What was a Rage fan of old to say, but “Hell Yes”!
At the time of writing the new single Spirits of the Night has just been released on Spotify, so hopefully you will have had a chance to check it out.
Peavey’s stated intention was on this album to deliver the “hardest record in years.” He was keen to for the album to capture the spirit of Rage that has been developed over the years and by crikey, I think he has exceeded his expectations.
On first listen to the album I could tell I was listening to Rage, pure and simple. From the opening title track – The Devil Strikes Again, the strong, fast riffs, powerful double kick drumming, trademark big bass fills and Peavey’s distinctive vocals are all there. All the songs are of a fast tempo and very direct, Peavey being the principal writer again explains that somewhat. The songs have the melodic power that Rage is well known for woven through them, but it just comes at a much faster pace this time.
After multiple listenings of the new album I am finding it at times reminds me of my introduction to Rage in 1989 with Secrets in a Weird World, sometimes a bit like Reflections of a Shadow but with a fresh edge to it.
The track listing is:
The Devil Strikes Again – an opener that leaves no doubt that you are listening to a Rage album.
My Way – a distinctive Rage song. Strong riffs that has a sing along chorus for live shows.
Back on Track – a distinctive track with backing vocals harking back to early Rage on Reflections of a Shadow.
The Final Curtain – easy listening that encourages a nodding of the head along to the drum beat, with a nice solo.
War – opens with quite a galloping riff, then interesting vocals and fills during the verses before building up to a powerful chorus. Plays perfectly to the topic of the song – a very cynical look at war.
Ocean Full of Tears – Peavey’s take on a song of loss, power metal style. It does get the head banging.
Deaf Dumb and Blind – raw and gruff, with vocals to match.
Spirits of the Night – the first release, a strong track which showcases all of the trademark Rage power and melody in one song.
Times of Darkness – the slowest tempo track on the album but still a pleasure to listen to.
The Dark Side of the Sun – finishing the album on a high, a much more up pace tempo loaded with powerful riffs and almost a Middle Eastern sounding pre chorus.
This album is an introduction to another new era of Rage, and from the sounds of it Peavey has hit the nail on the head. With the new line up the sound is fresh and full of life but still manages to keep the sound distinctively Rage. Peavey has indicated in a number of interviews that he will keep writing and playing music for as long as he can, there is no end in sight and with this new offering I can understand why – the album leaves me wanting to taste more of this new incarnation of Rage. Hopefully this can be satisfied with a potential tour to Australia in October, if the cards fall the right way… Overall, this is a very solid album and for long time Rage fans it will be like wrapping yourself in an favourite old blanket.
The Devil Strikes Again will be released on June 10, 2016 in multiple formats including a 2 or 3 CD digipack and a 2LP vinyl issue through Nuclear Blast.