Review: Rage “Spreading the Plague” [Steamhammer]

Review: Rage “Spreading the Plague” [Steamhammer]

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After one year of relative silence legendary German speed/power/heavy metal quartet Rage has returned with a teasing new EP Spreading the Plague, once again in collaboration with Steamhammer, a sub-label of mighty SPV Records. Rage is always in motion, always preparing something for their fans, not to mention their active and lengthy tours.

This new EP provides us with three brand new songs (if we don’t count a single released one month ago) and three re-recorded from their previous albums. New tracks are perfectly in style of their last LP – energetic, emotional and with some nostalgic touches. They still emanate some kind of spontaneous aggression, but now it sounds very smooth and painfully optimistic, dismissing their connection to speed/thrash metal era. New songs were recorded during the sessions of Resurrection Day, and were deliberately held back until now. Spreading the Plague isn’t madly innovative or full of superhits, but this mini album is very pleasing time-filler between the main releases. The fans of this vigorous band are really spoiled with constant new material and other sweet surprises, so, Rage’s new EP demonstrates once again the productivity of these power metal veterans.

Actually, there’s only one original member left in Rage, who for forty years controls it (and before that the band called Avenger) despite the fact that all new musicians actively participate in a creative process. No doubt, this last era with a new line-up has changed a bit band’s stylistic visions, but every one of them absolutely understands the core of Rage, what is it that makes them so unique and appealingly recognizable. Forty years in this ruthless musical business, and yet the brainchild of Peavy Wagner goes strong and relentless, when professional maturity is still ignited by vigilant youthfulness. And even if the last line-up added some fresh blood to this music, sometimes it feels like it’s too overwhelming, like there’s no real evolution. This is a problem of many bands that crush the metal scene for thirty, forty or even fifty years, still procrastinating with the same ideas that were popular decades ago. Of course, many of those bands are still in great shape in every possible way, never giving up and always in search of modern ideas. Rage is certainly one of them, seething with a marvelous vitality and faithful to themselves.

New compositions offer some kind of diversity. “To Live and to Die” (released before as a single) is the most ardent and headbanging, with primitive juicy riffs and slight southern vibes. “Spreading the Plague” is performed in a classical key; serious, not fast, with some nostalgic touches. “The King has lost his Crown” is melodic and somewhat monotonous, providing with strong emotional background. Acoustic version of “A new Land” from their previous album Resurrection Day sounds so positively radiant, but nevertheless, melancholic notes calm it down, bestowing some sort of transparent tranquility. The new version of their hit “The Price of War 2.0” (originally from their legendary Black in Mind back in 1995) is like made of steel – straightforward, robust and angry, reminding of their speed/thrash days. And the last song is “live” version of their killer “Straight from Hell” (from 2001 album Welcome to the Other Side). It is about old school approach and with some rock ‘n’ roll energy, reviving the spirit of this immortal song with steady confidence.

Spreading the Plague was meant as a rewarding surprise dedicated to loyal fan base that were patiently waiting for their live concerts during the prolonged pandemic. And the fans aren’t disappointed, cherishing this lively, vivid and vibrant record with grateful devotion.

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