Album Review: RAGE – The Soundchaser Archives

Rage - The Soundchaser Archives

Nuclear Blast – Out Now.

It was not very long after they released their debut album “Reign Of Fear” back in 1986 that the German Thrash/Power Metalers Rage were first brought to my attention and subsequent heart-stopping performances, one in support of the mighty Running Wild, at the now sadly defunct Rodon Club in Athens only helped solidify my support for this band.

It really feels quite strange to suddenly realise that the year 2014 marks the band’s thirtieth anniversary – an occasion that the German trio has decided to celebrate through the release of a two disc collection entitled “The Soundchaser Archives”.

I am sure you agree that, in cases such as this, what most bands tend to do is put together a collection of their most successful tunes, add a few bonus tracks, and ask a relatively well known journo to create a text that highlights past achievements while explaining the band’s significance to the evolution of  Metal.

Now, without any access to the final product, I cannot comment on how this offering of thirty compositions will be presented, but what I do know is that this material is anything but ordinary.

Here is a handful of previously unreleased compositions combined with demo, rehearsal and alternative versions of some of the band’s best known material.

While this undoubtedly translates to nectar and ambrosia for the devoted Rage fan, people who have never heard the band before might find it fairly difficult to appreciate, for instance, demo versions of songs like “Enough Is Enough” and “Last Goodbye” where Peter “Peavy” Wagner sings dangerously out of key or a track such as “Here Comes The Night” which is average enough to be called a left-over.

Moments that the band’s loyal fan base will  undoubtedly cherish, however, are flamboyant ditties, such as “Anybody Home?”, “Another Kind Of Madness”  as well as Victor Smolski’s interpretation of Bach’s classics such as “French Bourre” and “Fugue No.5” – both showcasing the Belarusian guitarist’s sheer talents on the six string.

To sum up: while this is an interesting compilation of rare material, the ‘warts and all’ nature of “The Soundchaser Tapes” makes it an ideal purchase only for those of you who are already in possession of the band’s rather extensive back catalogue.

I am not, of course, trying to put anyone off, especially the more adventurous of you (as a fan of Rage I would hate myself), however, I would be lying to you if I did not mention that there are a couple of compilations already out there which would perform a better task in introducing you to the works of this great band.

Alles Gute zum Geburtstag, Rage!

John Stefanis

Rating: ***1/2 (3.5/5.0)

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