Album review: RAGE – Wings Of Rage

RAGE - Wings Of Rage

SPV/Steamhammer [Release date 10.01.20]

Every family has a black sheep. That one relative who never gets invited to Christmas lunch. Rage are that family member, the unhinged uncle who is usually locked in an attic or roaming around the woods. Since forming thirty-seven years ago the German metallers have released a constant string of fine albums and have enjoyed success across the globe, forging their own path and never following the pack but staunchly doing what they want. ‘Wings of Rage’ distils all that is great about the band and brings it together in what is arguably the best thing they’ve put out to date.

To the sound of screaming and horror film sound effects, the album bursts into macabre life with ‘True’, its pounding riff leaping out of the speakers and it’s time to decide to run and hide or hang on for dear life. It’s difficult to say whether, over their thankfully long lifetime, Rage have influenced or been influenced by the metal bands around them as there are elements of Metallica, Anthrax and a healthy portion of the NWOBHM style in the material. It really doesn’t matter either way as the band mix it all up into a brutal whole that will have fans old and new punching the air. As the album title suggests, the whole is a lumbering and dark beast that has real moments of taking flight with soaring solos and melody drenched harmonies.

‘Chasing the Twilight Zone’ opens with that oh so familiar and unsettling riff whilst ‘Tomorrow’ tears along at breakneck speed, the skyscraping guitar work making it lift off with the power of a jumbo jet. In amongst the relentless guitar, bass and drums there is a craft born of decades together and flashes of light and shade that bring relief from the assault and catch the ear and imagination. This really is an album to be listened to as well as just played very loud. From the changing moods of the title track to the almost symphonic Hammer Horror storytelling of ‘A Nameless Grave’ and onwards to the pounding rocker ‘Blame It On The Truth’ the musical landscape shifts and warps in a dizzyingly euphoric ride.

The trio really don’t compromise, Peter Wagner pummelling his bass whilst putting some real menace and fire into his vocals, Marcos Rodriguez wringing out some coruscating riffs and Vassilios Maniatopolos destroying his drumkit in a way that must surely leave it reduced to matchwood. This sense of utter focus captures the epic ‘Shine A Light’ and goes through to the neck wrecking ‘Higher Than The Sky’, the three men locked together in a pact to flatten everything in their path, right up to the closing Viking raid of ‘For Those Who Wish To Die’. Rage: more metal than metal itself. ***1/2

Review by Paul Monkhouse

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