RAGE – Speak Of The Dead

RAGE - Speak Of The Dead


Nuclear Blast
Release date: March 24, 2006

User Review
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Led by bassist/singer/frontman Peter ”Peavy” Wagner, the German Heavy Metal institution Rage has provided quality music for some 20 years, and Speak of the Dead is, although nowhere near the band’s top moments in the late 80s/early 90s, another very enjoyable album. But first –- a short history lesson.

After two releases under the moniker Avenger, the band Rage released their formal debut, the raw and intense Reign of Fear in 1986. During the following years, the band evolved at warp speed, soon producing classics like Perfect Man (1988), Trapped (1992), The Missing Link (1993), and Black in Mind (1995). The band was plagued with member changes, though, and the most significant was the exit of guitar wiz Manni Schmidt, following the Power of Metal double live album (with Conception and Gamma Ray) released in 1994.

After 7 years as a quartet, releasing albums like XIII (1998) with guitarists Spiros Efthimiadis and Sven Fischer, the band returned to its original trio format when Russian shredder Victor Smolski entered the ranks in 1999, supplying additional lead lines to Ghosts, released that year. Long-time drummer Spiros Efthimiadis also left the band, being replaced with former Malmsteen and Metalium batterist Mike Terrana. Welcome to the Other Side is the fourth studio album by this latest constellation, and definitely worth a closer look.

The album opens with the very ambitious “Suite Lingua Mortis” –- a 25-minute orchestral piece showcasing Smolski’s penchant for blending Classical Music and Heavy Metal. The band did this with excellent results on the aforementioned XIII, unfortunately the result is not that convincing this time. Out of the 8 parts of the suite, 5 of those are instrumental, and although there are some amazing melodies in between (part 5, “No Regrets,” for example, is fantastic), but overall this piece is nothing but boring. This is obviously not a good thing, as a skeptic listener rarely takes the time to skip an album’s first 25 minutes if not impressed at once, but luckily (for those taking the time) there are plenty of goodies to find.

“No Fear” is heavy and catchy, and also the album’s first choice for a video, and “Soul Survivor” is an excellent example of Peavy’s great sense of melody. This mix of intense and straight ahead riffs and enchanting melodies, sung by Wagner’s raw and characteristic voice, has always been one of the band’s trademark assets, and luckily the band still manages to create such moments.

“Turn My World Around” is on the more up-tempo side, and should make headbangers out there happy, and the ending title track is also very well-suited to give those neck muscles a fair beating.

Performance is, not surprisingly, top-notch. Terrana is a human Duracell rabbit, and Smolski can be compared to most Metal axemen of today in every aspect of shred guitarisms. However, whether his style fits this band or not is a legitimate question. On Speak of the Dead, his very flashy playing style is a bit too much of a good thing, really, making it tempting to cry for someone like Manni Schmidt (or at least a more A4, Rock ‘n’ Roll sort of guitar player) back in the band.

The Progressive pieces on the album are also clearly the album’s weakest points, so the conclusion has to be that Rage once again has come up with a very good album, but still they should probably do what they do best, and not try to be something they’re not. Rage is at their best when the emphasis is on producing rock-solid, speedy, groovy Heavy Metal; in this mode they undoubtedly still are one of the planet’s best bands.

Listen to MER’s interview with Victor Smolski here!


  • Torgeir P. Krokfjord

    Torgeir was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio. After hearing Malmsteen's "Vengeance" on a guitar mag CD at the age of 12 or 13, he began doing hopeless interpretations of Yngwie licks and it just took off from there. After shorter stints at other zines he was snatched to Metal Express Radio in 2003. Alongside Yngwie, Savatage, WASP, Symphony X, Blind Guardian, Emperor, Arch Enemy, In Flames, Opeth, Motörhead, Manowar, and Queensrÿche are a quick list of musical faves. Torgeir is also guitarist in the Heavy/Prog/Thrash outfit Sarpedon.

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