With one of heavy metal’s more unique voices, Peter “Peavey” Wagner has helmed German power metal outfit Rage now for over thirty years – no mean feat. While Rage has been around for three decades, the current line-up has only existed since 2015, and the change in sound was very evident on their 2016 album, The Devil Strikes Back. I’m happy to say that the new, fresh sound has stuck around for their latest release: Seasons Of The Black.
The key to liking a Rage album is whether or not you like the gruff vocal stylings of Wagner. For a new comer, they may be a little difficult to get yesterday, but for me, I fell in love with his style years ago. The good news is with Alice Cooper and Accept recently releasing some of the finest albums of their career; we now see Rage doing the same thing – yes, Seasons Of The Black is an instant winner.
After a crow quickly layers the opening notes, the title track kicks into gear with a flurry of guitar and drums that threaten something ominous. And it doesn’t disappoint. Wagner’s gruff, melodic vocals are in fine tune, and the listener knows to sit back and expect something very special indeed. “Serpents In Disguise” sees a catchiness seep into the album with the melodic chorus very, very quickly getting stuck in your head.
That catchiness remains for “Blackened Karma”, but it also contains lyrics that really makes the listener sit back and think and reflect. Lyrics like: “we gather what we send out” show that while this album does contain songs that will stick with you, there is still a fair seriousness to the lyrics at hand as well. That seriousness is also on show with “Time Will Tell”, which sees the instrumental side of Rage really move to the fore, especially with a brilliant guitar solo by Marcos Rodriguez.
Rodriguez’s work is solid throughout the whole open – even as tracks like “Septic Bite”, “Walk Among The Dead”, “All We Know Is Not” and “Justify” just glide by, they are songs that stay with you. Rodriguez’s amazing work really stands out though on the faster-paced “Bloodshed In Paradise”, which contains an epic solo, but also sees Vassilios “Lucky” Maniatopoulos’ drumming get a real work out as well. The closing song is also a classic – “Farewell” sees Rage at their amazing best: a beautiful rock track that showcases Wagner’s vocals and sees a beautiful opening by Rodriguez. Let’s just hope it doesn’t mean goodbye forever from Rage.
Seasons Of The Black is another fine album to surface in 2017 from a band that has been-there-and-done-that a lot over the years. Amazing vocals and an album where even the filler track is memorable. Yes, Rage is still at the top of their game.