Album: The Devil Strikes Again
Release Date: June 10th, 2016
Label: Nuclear Blast
If you have read my review of Rage’s first single after the departure of Victor Smolski, I had my doubts about the new Rage (here is that review – Rage – My Way EP Review ). My Way was a weak link in the band’s discography, missing all that aggression that, in my book, defined a certain part of Rage. Well, naming a band Rage requires some form of anger after all.
Two things will welcome you immediately with the opening track, The Devil Strikes Again, which also happens to be the title track. First is how Peavy Wagner’s voice sounds flat. Now, Peavy Wagner was never a singer to sing in the style of, say, Hansi Kürsch or Tobias Sammet. His voice is flat and harsh and it is an essential part of Rage’s music. Chris Boltendahl of Grave Digger is a good comparison. However, perhaps because of the production or because of a preference, Peavy sounds forced at times. You can do all sorts of engineering tricks today and make everything sound good. All but the enthusiasm factor. Maybe it is just me, I don’t know.
The second thing is; certain songs feel like they are of the same formula. The opening track, for example, and the follow up, My Way are practically of the same root. This is, at times, not a bad thing as it can be seen as consistency. However, the thin line between consistency and repetitiveness is really thin. I am afraid it is the case here. Third track, Back on Track for example, has a different, somewhat positive vibe and it creates that sought differentiation in between the songs. Is the song good? Bad? That is up to the listeners. It is a “no-hustle power metal” track. Double kicks, fast paced snares and shredding. You know…
Just when mediocre feelings start filling my soul, the tides also start to turn. The Final Curtain is a track that announces the change with its old-school Rage feeling mixed up with the more “progressive” side of the band. Variety and familiarity is in good balance here. Same goes for War and Ocean Full of Tears which arguably is the best track of the album with its groove and thrashy riffs in the sense of Megadeth, building to a good bridge and a solid chorus. As if Rage wanted to stack all the good chorus songs in the middle. Interesting.
Members changing, coming in for some legendary names is always a tricky thing for new bands. Rage seems to be doing fine. However, expecting something “extraordinary” like another Unity as a song would be too much wishful thinking. It is not a horrible album, far from it. However, it is not a memorable one either. Rage fans would probably want to have it in their discography but not so sure about the rest. Not a bad investment, not a great one either.
Ocean Full of Tears is the track to check. The rest is somewhat mediocre. Maybe except War and the closing track, The Dark Side of the Sun with its gentle touch of Middle-Eastern / Egyptian touches.
Peavy Wagner – Vocals, Bass
Marcos Rodriguez – Guitar
Vassilios “Lucky” Maniatopoulos – Drums