Thursday, June 30, 2016

Rage - The Devil Strikes Again (2016)

There was a lot of buzz about the split-up in Rage last year, a happening that threatened to kill the band. Even if the Germans rarely gets the biggest of attention for their music, I have always had an immense amount of respect for them and their wonderful style of heavy metal. It just makes you smile every time you hear it. Ultimately, Peter "Peavy" Wagner was left as the only member left, and later added Marcos Rodriguez and Vassilos Maniatopoulos as replacements for Victor Smolski and André Hilgers. With that taken care of, their next goal was pretty straight forward, making album number 21.

I really do not know about you, but I was not too worried of how this album would come out, because I knew that as long as Peavy is in the house, then Rage will deliver some good heavy metal, and I was of course right. "The Devil Strikes Back" is what one would expect from the band, no surprises to be seen. If you got the bonus version of the album, you can look forward to 16 songs (3 which are covers) taking a total of 1 hour and 13 minutes of time. Granted that it has been 4 years since we last heard some new material from the band (which is a really long time since Rage usually spits out the records quickly), but I feel like Rage's type of music is at its best when it stays to a length of around 50 minutes, making a lot of impact and not wearing out the listener all too much. This certainly is a meal that will fill your stomach pretty quickly, so do not feel guilty if you only go for the normal version (although you will be missing out on three pretty good bonus tracks).

It is still nice though to hear that the band has not missed a single beat during this mini break. Both Marcos and Vassilos fits in nicely with the sound, and the iconic voice of Peavy is as present as ever. The only thing I can complain about the performance is that it does not have too much of a personality, making me miss the fast paced riffing of Victor that really made the 00's version of the band so fascinating, but I'll look past it this time since I see this as sort of a initiation rite for the new guys. Simply put, as long as it sounds Rage, I am in.

With 13 original songs available, it will be hard to not find a song that will be of your liking. Sure, almost all of them have a similar theme and tempo to them, but there is still enough unique traits to make most of the songs stand out. While I do think that the little something extra is missing, we got several songs that are catchy and heavy enough to make them stick in your head for a while. Just listen to the opening title track, talk about starting off with an ace, a fast and heavy steam roller that truly shows that the devil is once again here to strike metal upon you all.

The continuity here is also fantastic, as per usual. Every song has some good craftsmanship to them, so do not expect any boring fillers here. Although, it is kind of a double edged sword too, making the album quite stale from time to time. I would not recommend you to grind the album over and over again, because it might drive you crazy. As I previously stated, the album is too long if you have the bonus version. While the three original bonus songs are good ("Into The Fire" and "Requiem" are some of the best songs on the record), the three covers are fairly useless, even if the band made some decent interpretations of songs by Skid Row, Rush, and Y&T. They could have just saved those for another occasion, maybe do like Jorn and release a full cover album (please don't).

I am so glad that Rage still exists, and "The Devil Strikes Again" shows that the band still knows how to create some great music. It is a album that is Rage to the bone, so if you love the band, you know that this will be your cup of tea. However, the long run time kills the album quite a bit, and I also feel like the band missed a great opportunity to really show off their new influences. So in short, "The Devil Strikes Again" is far from a revolutionizing album, but it certainly rocks, so it is definitely worthy of your time. At least appreciate it as a sign that the band will not be going away any time soon.

Songs worthy of recognition: The Devil Strikes Again, The Dark Side of The Sun, Requiem

Rating: 6,5/10 Wars

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