Review: Rage “Afterlifelines” [Steamhammer/SPV]

Review: Rage “Afterlifelines” [Steamhammer/SPV]

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This year Rage celebrates the band’s 40 years anniversary. 40 years! Such numbers still impress me, while Judas Priest celebrated 50 years. Also considering an amount of Rage albums, we can only wonder where they get their ideas, the strength and the inspiration for their new records. And one more number: this year the founder, singer and bassist Peter “Peavy” Wagner turns 60! Wow.

To celebrate the anniversary, Rage, shrank to trio again (Stefan Weber left the band in 2023) and release their new, 27-th album named Afterlifelines. A double album, I want to emphasize. “The first CD is entitled Afterlife and comprises songs that we recorded as a trio, while the material on the second CD Lifelines also includes classical orchestral arrangements,” explains Peavy, describing the 21 songs, including intro, interlude and outro. However, the band makes such things for a long time and in Afterlifelines it just expanded to the scale of double album. But to be completely honest, it’s not exactly two different albums – all songs have some kind of similarity and the band’s significant style. Maybe the songs were divided into those with orchestral arrangements and symphonic elements and those, which are just “metal” as a matter of convenience. There is also a question of “quality/quantity” but let me try to answer it closer to the end of the review.

So, the first CD, Afterlife consists 11 songs, where Rage expectedly mix heavy, power and thrash metal, adding melodic and catchy choruses lavishly. For example, it will be hard to get “Mortal” and “Waterwar” out of your head and I’m sure these songs will sound greatly performed live. Vigorous drums, bass and low tuned guitars provide heaviness to all songs. And of course Peavy’s vocals: it still powerful but the age, you know – it is notably that it is hard for him to sing higher notes, like in “It’s All Too Much” or “End Of Illusions.” Breakdowns are also worth to mention, it is simple but effective. However, there is also a place for diversity: “Justice Will Be Mine” is played in major key with some familiar melody, which I can’t recall. Maybe it is some kind of reference or it’s just my Mandela effect. “Shadow World” starts from some heavy rock and roll riff, reminding Chrome Division, while after that it becomes “typical” Rage.

Symphonic CD Lifelines was created with keyboardist Marco Grasshoff and string quartet. The arrangements are rich indeed and there are some real symphonic metal songs like “The Flood” or 10 minutes “Lifelines”, where some light keyboards and guitar picking changes with symphonic metal and a long, pretty bluesy solo, which changes with pompous chorus. Another thing here is a ballad “Dying To Live,” which is great by its simplicity, bot for the main melody and arranging. Peavy’s clean vocals can be heard here too, with barely noticeable note of sadness.

Going back to “quality/quantity” question, I can’t really say that something changed dramatically since, let’s say, two last albums. There are some weak songs like, for example, “Toxic Waste” – great lyrics but weak musically. Some trite harmonies, which lie behind the chorus melodies present here as well, like the mentioned “Toxic Waste”, “It’s All Too Much” or “Afterlife.” And the same things happen with guitar solos: Jean Bormann is professional, very skilled guitarist but sometimes his solos are a little bit boring and sound pretty generic, when in other songs like “Life Among The Ruins”, “In The End” or “Lifelines” his solos are interesting and really good. Nevertheless, like I said before, all these things were present on previous albums in varying degrees, so quantity of songs didn’t reduce the quality, it’s all about proportion.

To sum things up, Rage released their next album with all its highs and lows. A big album for a big date. So if you like what Rage did earlier, you will like this album, at least partially. After all, this band proved everything to everyone long ago and now they can release albums for their own pleasure.

Afterlifelines will be released on March, 29th via Steamhammer/SPV.

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