Rage – Resurrection Day (Album Review)

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It’s Easter in the apocalyptic metal lands.

Many in the field of high speed German steel have come and gone since its heyday in the 1980s, but veteran speed/power metal fence-sitters Rage have endured long past most of the competition, and have been among the most prolific progenitors of the art form to boot. With 23 full length studio albums under their belt (24 if one counts their 1985 debut “Prayers Of Steel” under the prior moniker of Avenger) in under 40 years, they’ve proven to be a stoic rock that remains undaunted by the rushing rivers of changing commercial trends, with their output during the sonic wasteland of the 1990s rivaling the exquisite quality of fellow Teutonic powerhouses Grave Digger and Running Wild. As such, it stands to reason that the onset of the recent pandemic lockdowns would do little to stymie this metal institution’s output, and their latest offering to the masses dubbed “Resurrection Day” is a fittingly titled and relentlessly powerful display of what has always made this band a staple of their respective sub-genre.

The aforementioned album name proves doubly appropriate given that this latest effort sees the return not only of the live scene, but also that of the twin guitar assault that this band dabbled in during the late 90s. Though by no means was recently departed axe-man Marcos Rodriquez a slouch, let alone his virtuoso predecessor Victor Smolski, there is definitely something to be said for the dynamic range afforded to a dueling guitar approach rather than the power trio one, and in this capacity both Stefan Weber and Jean Bormann perform quite effectively. The generally punchy and quasi-thrashing character of Rage’s signature take on power metal finds itself adorned with a more harmonically rich display, all the while losing none of its aggression between the crunchy riff work and the thunderous kit work of Vassilios “Lucky” Maniatopoulos, who has been making a massive racket with the band since their 2016 crusher “The Devil Strikes Again,” to speak nothing for band leader and lone founder Peter Wagner’s gravely and forceful vocal display, losing none of its power with the passage of time.

Ushering in this renewed and reworked version of the same winning formula that has been paying dividends since the mid-80s is a somewhat more grandiose introduction that is almost theatrical in character. The opening instrumental fit of cinematic symphonic bluster “Memento Vitae (Overture)” comes off as somewhat typical when compared against many younger adherents of this style, but for Rage it presents a sizable departure from the more stripped down sound of their recent past for a more grandiose one, and the follow up anthem and title track “Resurrection Day” marries this orchestrated atmosphere to their chunky, speed-infused brand of metallic fury like a more thrashing nod to Accept’s more pomp-infused moments. This sense of dense atmospheric detailing likewise adorns more mixed up offerings such as the acoustic balladry turned Helloween-like fervor of “Man In Chains” and the melancholy turned frenetic brilliance of “The Age Of Reason”, the latter being among the  more epic displays to occur in a sub-5 minute duration to have occurred in recent memory.

“Resurrection Day” Album Artwork

Older fans of the band who might take these previously described forays into contemporary power metal as them skipping up on the aggression factor need not fret, for this album also delivers the heaviness factor something fierce. Biting speed thrashers such as “Virginity” and closer “Extinction Overkill” pack enough of a punch to rival some of the staples of the Bay Area thrash scene, while the thick grooves of mid-paced crushers like “Monetary Gods” and the slightly more melodic “A New Land” would satiate the hunger of any rabid Grave Digger fan for the roughest take on the power metal style. Even the somewhat AC/DC influenced meets modernized 80s melodic rock sensibilities of “Mind Control” are painted over with a rugged, working class metallic gloss that fits the mold as well as the rest of them. But the true coup de grace that really sums this album up is the slightly Iron Maiden-tinged melodic romp with a heavy edge “Traveling Through Time”, fully exploiting the two guitar arrangement while also incorporating some of those previously noted orchestral bits in a tasteful fashion.

With a body of work so extensive being under consideration, it’s near impossible to approach this album without drawing comparisons to previous work, but what Rage has put together here towers above much of their recent output and definitely stands apart from the more rustic speed metal stylings of their more distant past. It conjures up about as many parallels to the recent output of U.D.O. and Primal Fear as it does the more old school metal trappings of their much lauded early days, and while it doesn’t quite match the sheer brilliance of “Perfect Man” and the diamond in the rough charm of “The Missing Link,” this is definitely a high point in a career that spans a majority of metal’s history. Despite Peavy Wagner pushing into his late 50s, he brings the same level of fire and energy that current contributors to the scene are accomplishing in their 20s, and the continuing evolution of their sound at the periphery is sure to yield more metallic greatness in the years to come.

Released By: Steamhammer / SPV
Released On: September 17th, 2021
Genre: Heavy Metal

Musicians:

  • Peavy Wagner / Bass, Vocals
  • Stefan Weber / Guitars
  • Jean Bormann / Guitars
  • Vassilios “Lucky” Maniatopoulos / Drums

“Resurrection Day” Tracklisting

1. Memento Vitae (Overture) 1:14
2. Resurrection Day 4:18
3. Virginity 3:41
4. A New Land 3:49
5. Arrogance And Ignorance 5:00
6. Man In Chains 4:36
7. The Age Of Reason 4:22
8. Monetary Gods 3:54
9. Mind Control 4:14
10. Traveling Through Time 4:13
11. Black Room 4:49
12. Extinction Overkill 5:52

9.0 Excellent

Through the passage of nearly four decades and a sizable number of prominent lineup shifts, one of Germany’s most iconic speed metal icons delivers yet another colossal, modernized beast of an album to keep the Grave Diggers and the Rebellions of the world on their toes

  • Songwriting 9.5
  • Musicianship 9
  • Originality 8.5
  • Production 9
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