REVIEW: RAGE – “Resurrection Day”
When I was in my big power metal phase – which was from 1999-ish until…well, today – I remember picking up Rage’s ‘End of All Days’ album and completely being blown away by the unique, Teutonic way of turning the melodic lines into something actually brutal enough not to be made fun of by our death metal friends. Being one of the most recognized and celebrated German bands out there, and definitely one of the richest in terms of history, Rage have been hard to kill for more than 35 years already and show no signs of slowing down after a lineup change – once again. Believe it or not, ‘Resurrection Day’ is their TWENTY FOURTH album; and harder even to believe, I own all previous 23 of them.
Like most fans out there, I do prefer records like ‘Trapped!’, ‘The Missing Link’ and ‘Soundchaser’ to ‘Carved in Stone’, ‘Strings to a Web’ or ‘21’, but I could always enjoy to some extent mostly everything the band has done. Since parting ways with Victor Smolski, Peavy and the gang have sworn allegiance to old, mainly the good old heydays of the 1990s. 2016’s ‘The Devil Strikes Again’ was not only stripped of Smolski but also of his neoclassical guitar theatrics and the atmospheric and orchestral touches the band has been using for over a decade. The reception was mixed, but it was good to hear something more concise from the band. And just like its predecessors since that time, Peavy has been consistent in trying to bring back the old Rage into form, with a few ups and downs along the way.
That said, the tracks in here are indeed a step closer to old-school “Ragers”, but unlike their recent outputs, have a lot of melodic, sing-along lines as well. “Arrogance and Ignorance”, for instance, is a rocker with tinges of melody and a multi-layered chorus that’s as catchy as pink eye, while there are straight powerhouses such as the title track and “Extinction Overkill”, which waves back at some good memories from ‘Execution Guaranteed’ and ‘Perfect Man’.
In fact, this is the most diversified Rage album in a long time, probably since ‘Soundchaser’ back in 2003. Peavy and friends range from old-school tunes and melodic tracks like the abovementioned to more experimental moments like the great “Traveling Through Time” (best song in the album in my opinion) and power-ballads such as “Black Room”. These songs all have fat choruses, fantastic guitar parts, and enough songwriting honesty to make a listener nod his head in silent approval.
Instrumental-wise, Rage are still an impressive band. Peavy’s vocals are as cool as ever in their imperfections, and while newcomers Jean Bormann and Stefan Weber lack some of the finesse or flamboyancy of musicians such as Smolski or Manni Schmidt, they fit their roles and structural positions energetically, churning out relatively interesting riffs and direct rhythmical patterns. It would be quite unfair to blame either of them for holding the band back, even more so when taking into consideration that they are quite on par with former guitarist Marco Rodríguez’s prowess. The production, mixing, and mastering are a significant improvement over ‘Wings of Rage’, with Peavy’s bass brought more to the frontlines and with a generally pleasant, full, and well-defined sound that gives priority to the riffing without overwriting vocals and drums.
‘Resurrection Day’ is a clear step-forward to Peavy and his newfound lineup and a sure shot if you are a fan of the band. In the end, I think I’ll return to the album more than ‘The Devil Strikes Again’, for example, but both are actually quite similar in quality. Just the same, this record (like all Rage records) is still fun and worthy of your time. if you’ve been a fan of Rage in the past but quit listening to them, now might be the time to give them another chance.