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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Rage

Speak of The Dead

Review by Gary Hill

Rage's latest is almost two different albums. The multi part suite that opens this one off is pretty much pure progressive rock, while the tracks that follow are equally unadulterated heavy metal. This is an incredibly adventurous disc, and in fact more experimental than any thing else by them that I have heard. These guys have been around for a long time, and it's good to see them breaking barriers and keeping things fresh. If there is any complaint here, though, it's that the tracks outside the suite tend to not have enough variety. This makes it drag a bit at times as it the latter half of the album tends to blend together. Still, with as strong a release overall as this is, I suppose it's not a very major complaint.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Suite Lingua Mortis

Morituri Te Salutant, Pt. 1
As this song starts off you might think that you have mistakenly placed some classical music film soundtrack into your player. This is an epic sort of instrumental piece that could easily fit onto some program of classical music.
Prelude of Souls, Pt. 2
I know that Rage is a metal band, but from listening to this cut you might think you have a classic Emerson Lake and Palmer disc in your machine. This one is a total progressive rock instrumental that comes straight out of the last piece. This rocks out quite well, and really has that ELP sort of sound, with a little bit of Malmsteen thrown in for good measure. This links straight into the next one.
Innocent, Pt. 3
As this kicks in it still has a lot of that classical music texture from the previous two pieces, but there is enough crunch guitar and fury to make sure you know that it's heavy metal. This one is the first with vocals and is overall a fast paced metal scorcher with sections of definite classical music leanings. It's a strong one, made even stronger in the context of this suite. The instrumental jam mid tune is exceptional heavy and very powerful. This is a very dynamic cut and still has a lot of prog rock in the mix.
Depression, Pt. 4
The classical instruments return here coming out of the vacuum left behind by the last number. This one is a pretty purely symphonic classical instrumental. It starts sad and pretty, but turns more bombastic later.
No Regrets, Pt. 5
Coming out of the crescendo from the last piece, this one fires off with some of the most purely metal sounds on show thus far. This one is a major stomper, made to seem even heavier by it's placement after the last number. They bring in more of those classical elements to the mix here, and also drop it back to some prog metal ballad like material at points. This one should please fans of all varieties of progressive metal and many neo-prog fans, too. It's dynamic and potent. An incredibly powerful expansive prog rock jam comes out of this later. That section feels like such groups as Yes, Dream Theater and the Flower Kings even more than it does like heavy metal. It turns to a more sparse arrangement after this, then eventually pounds back out.
Confusion, Pt. 6
This instrumental comes in with a swirling sort of guitar explosion. It runs through like this for a time, then stomps out into a more straightforward jam. A talk box on the guitar is a nice touch. This one wanders into a percussion solo (accompanied through most of it). The more furious, but still classically tinged textures return afterwards.
Black, Pt. 7
This instrumental brings us back into the neo-classical style of music with symphonic instruments and a sedate but very evocative texture dominating.
Beauty, Pt. 8
This comes gradually out of the last piece and a guitar runs some mellower leads that are both Spanish/flamenco and bluesy in texture. Then it shifts to a pretty guitar based ballad format for the song proper. This is a very pretty and lush arrangement that is extremely evocative. They crank it out later, but still remain in the epic ballad approach, just powering it up with soaring instrumental work. This one is (appropriately) beautiful. A symphonic powerhouse ends this piece and the suite.
No Fear
After the symphonic progressive rock elements of the suite, the band waste no time reminding us that they are a heavy metal outfit. This one screams in with a tasty and very frantic fury. This one is a pretty typical metal scorcher, but Rage still brings plenty of intriguing touches to the table. They throw a scorching epic metal/neo classical jam into the midst of this to elevate it.
Soul Survivor
While this one stomps in with a very 1980's hair metal sort of sound, it's actually quite frantic and turns much heavier very quickly. This one could almost be written off as a bit generic with its anthemic chorus, but then the guitar solo kicks in and purely shreds. That section alone makes this song a "don't miss."
Full Moon
Acoustic guitar starts this one off, and as the vocals come in, this is a ballad. After a verse like this it shifts towards the dark and creepy, then suddenly crunches out into an ultra heavy jam that feels a bit like 1990's Ozzy. This one is another scorcher. They run through a few changes, then at the end drop it back to the mellow verse that started it.
Kill Your Gods
A frantic percussion line starts this, then the band join to scream out in a twisting sort of melody that is full of fire. Parts of this are anthemic epic metal, but the main riff is super heavy, near thrash. There is also a segment that reminds me a bit of Motorhead, and I even hear a little Motley Crue here. This one is a dynamic, but still very powerful metal stomper. It also has some exceptionally tasty guitar work.
Turn My World Around
That Ozzy sort of guitar sound is back on the intro to this one. They drop it back towards the balladic to create the vocal segment. It fires back out into the mode of the intro for the chorus and alternate between these two styles as it carries forward.
Be With Me or Be Gone
Coming in a bit slower and more tentative, other than that change up this one doesn't differ much from what came before it. This one is another metal scorcher, but by this point all the tracks are starting to sound a bit too similar. The chorus on this one is especially effective, though.
Speak of the Dead
A more galloping metal jam starts this off, and it has more of that late '80's texture to it. This one is another that is a bit too much like the sounds that come around it.
Luna Reine
A pretty, intricate, mellower sound starts this one off. They turn this into a dark and mysterious sounding ballad structure, then some of the heaviest music on show here stomps in to carry forward. This one in many ways is the most aggressive metal on the disc. They drop it back to the mellower afterwards to take the cut out.
 
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