Rage – “Wings Of Rage” CD / 2 LP / Deluxe Boxset (Steamhammer / SPV)
Battle Helm Rating
Wow, these guys have been going for 37 years and amazingly on this 25th studio album, show little signs of flagging – actually, they’re even more intense and ambitious than before!!! Heavy metal, speed metal, power metal…Rage has seen it all through even venturing into progressive metal and in 1996, becoming the first metal band to record an album with a full symphonic orchestra in Lingua Mortis. Formed in 1984 by Peter ‘Peavy’ Wagner who still leads on bass and vocals, Rage have understandably been through their ups and downs over the years, but more recently the former has played its part in firstly reuniting Peavy with his ex band mates Manni Schmidt and Chris Efthimiadis to form a side band in Refuge, and secondly, to create another exceptionally tight and fearsome Rage line up with guitarist Marcos Rodriguez (Soundchaser) and drummer Vassilios “Lucky” Maniatopoulos (Tri State Corner and also an apprentice of Chris Efthimiadis)! With 2 albums already under their belts, the trio now return with this superb release that draws inspiration and styles from their history to create 12 amazing songs that while being diverse, definitely have Rage stamped all over them as well as testifying to their impressive, underlying musicianship. It’s as if the band have gone all out on “Wings Of Rage”, and in many ways that’s true from being self produced with Marcos Rodriguez personally taking care of the mixing and mastering, resulting in an amazing sound, to Peavy going well beyond metal circles lyrically to having a socio-critical thread running through the album from championing social outcasts to demolishing history’s dictators! Opening with screams and howls on ‘True’, the jumping, crunching riffs immediately hook you in along with rasping vocals that unexpectedly give way to a catchy, harmonious chorus of ‘…have mercy on me, have mercy on you…’ as Lucky piston pumps his beats in perfection to the songs varying styles of rock, punk and metal, before Rodriguez blows you away with a blinding lead toward the end of the song – and this is only the opener!!! Title track ‘Winds Of Rage’ initially is a hammering aggressor that will have necks cracking, but Rodriguez injects plenty of classy melody throughout and indeed, the main vibe is definitely on the epic side with plenty of soulful singing from Peavy to ensure that once again, the track is not just energetic but with plenty of catchy stylistic changes all linked perfectly thanks to the excellent arrangements, not to mention composing. Despite their name and well deserved reputation in justifying it, the 6 minute ballad of ‘Shine A Light’ could bring even the hardest headbanger to tears from Rodriguez’s emotive, yet virtuosic guitar work soaring and wailing to break any heart while Peavy’s melancholic street drawl reminded me of Tom Waits in telling the poignant tale ….truly moving indeed. I remember when bands like Metallica produced gargantuan releases like this back in their glory days, now comes Rage’s turn so if you’ve never heard them before, then “Wings Of Rage” is no better way than to check out this fine, fine band indeed.