REVIEW: RAGE – “The Devil Strikes Again”
German metallers Rage have returned to the scene with their new album ‘The Devil Strikes Again’, the long-awaited follow up to their 2013 album ‘LMO’. The band has yet again changed its line up, with Marcos Rodriguez and Vassilios “Lucky” Maniatopoulos coming in to the band to replace Victor Smolski and André Hilgers respectively. Peter “Peavyˮ Wagner is the last remaining original member of the band, having been with them since its formation in 1984.
With the imminent release of ’The Devil Strikes Again’ in June, Rage are as powerful and strong as they were on ’Secrets of A Weird World’ (1989), ‘Trapped’ (1992) or ’Missing Link’ (1993), and although they have gone through many line-up changes since those heady early days, they have, with this new album, put out a statement: We are Rage, and we are back.
Wagner elaborates on the band’s new studio album: “With our new album we wanted to deliberately build on the energy and the spirit of our classic albums from the ’90s. We focussed again absolutely to the songs, hard and straight, with awesome melodies. The collaboration with Marcos and Lucky works extremely well, it had been a long time since I was so inspired and felt so liberated during song writing, and so some of the best tracks that I could ever record with RAGE came about. We are more than proud of this album and we can’t wait to bring ‘The Devil Strikes Again’ to the stage”.
The opening and titular track of the album kicks in like a clap of thunder in a storm, loud and full-on. The guitar work from Marcos Rodriguez sounds amazing on this track; full credit to him for his work on this track as it does give you just a taste of what’s to come on the rest of the album, and shows he has what it takes to be a part of the group. The following two tracks are very similar to each other in style, with the exception of the addition of an acoustic guitar in “My Way”. Rodriguez continues to showcase his skills, while the vocals of Peter “Peavy” Wagner sound more natural and fit into the melody better than in “The Devil Strikes Again”.
“Ocean Full of Tears” is one of the standout tracks on the album. Everything just seems to come together perfectly, from the main and backing vocals to the instrument work. This track shows everything Rage are capable of as a band, its only downside being that it is the shortest track on the album, clocking in at 4 minutes. It’s said that it is best to leave an audience wanting more, and this track certainly achieves that. The next track, “Deaf, Dumb and Blind”, picks up where “Ocean Full of Tears” left off, an outstanding song that again shows that the band has quickly come together as a unit. This song seems like it would go down especially well with a live audience –its call-back chorus would allow the crowd to get involved.
It’s really the middle of the album where the band really shines in my option. Marcos Rodriguez was a masterstroke of an addition to the band, and Vassilios “Lucky” Maniatopoulos makes his contribution to the band very well. Of course, we cannot forget Peter “Peavy” Wagner leading the charge for the band as he has always done. His vocals are, in places, a little inconsistent, but when he gets it right, he shows just how good a frontman he can be, while leaving our ears ringing. The last two tracks are both a little longer at over 5 minutes in length and the first of the two tracks is “Time of Darkness”, which, after quite a long build-up, moves along rather nicely. It’s one of those songs that you find yourself nodding along to. Wagner’s vocals shine through again here, and you can feel the passion that went into the lyrics and the singing.
The final track, “The Dark Side Of The Sun” is somewhat similar to the title track: it’s fast-paced, the vocals are very solid and it has a chorus which will likely get stuck in your head as it did in mine. The solo in the middle of this track is particularly impressive, and is a nice way to round out the album and leave the listener feeling satisfied within the offering Rage have given them. Rage are back with a bang and if this album is anything to go by, I can see them only getting better in the years to come. I just hope this line-up sticks around for a bit longer than the previous ones have tended to.