RAGE Album Review: “Afterlifelines”

RAGE
“Afterlifelines”
Album Review by Iron Mathew

10/10

11 / 10

Rage are a heavy/power metal band from Germany formed in 1984, releasing an incredible twenty six studio albums throughout a staggering forty year career. Founded by vocalist/bass player Peter ‘Peavy’ Wagner, he has led the band from the front to become one of the premier power come thrash metal bands in the world. Now I’ve never denied the fact that Rage are one of my all time favourite metal bands – ever since I heard ‘Reign Of Fear’ (way back) in 1986! And blow me down with the biggest fucking feather ever – was it really that long ago? Just where in the hell does time go…

…into history that’s where! And in history, Rage are gonna be standing tall and proud as power metal pioneers, icons and legends, creating a unique blend of thrash infused power metal – a blend that’s seen the band remain at the forefront of the worldwide power metal scene for nigh on four decades! And with new album ‘Afterlifelines’ – the bands first ever double album featuring an incredible twenty one songs over a colossal ninety minutes – Rage are gonna remain there for many more years to come. Of the new album, Peavy (briefly) explains, “the first CD comprises songs we recorded as a trio, while the material on the second CD also includes classical orchestral arrangements”. And let’s be honest, ‘Afterlifelines’ shows Rage at their devastating best, everything on offer featuring the bands broad artistic range – from hard, fast and thrashy to anthemic, and lavish symphonic!

So without any further waffle from me, let’s dive headlong into the new album from power metal legends Rage – ‘Afterlifelines’ opening with (the appropriately titled) ‘In The Beginning’, a one and a half minute, anticipation fuelled instrumental that leads straight into (album opener proper) ‘End Of Illusions’. And a blistering turn of speed, Rage doing what they do best – scorching the earth with pace, power and a phenomenal thrashy intent! ‘End Of Illusions’ is fast – very fast, with immense head bang ability and the bands incredibly melodic approach to metal! Rage’s meld of power, thrash and traditional heavy metal is one of a kind, the German outfit beginning ‘Afterlifelines’ in stunning form – ‘Under A Black Crown’ maintaining the albums stellar start! Albeit at an even faster pace, the iconic snarling growl of singer Peavy just as raspy and commanding as ever, even after forty years of belting out song after song! A barnstorming opening double soon becomes a triple with the thunderous ‘Afterlife’ – echoing the classic guitar tone from the eighties and the glorious NWOBHM evolution. The foot is well and truly planted on the monitor here, Rage adopting one of the most famous metal clichés of all time to reaffirm their position as an all out heavy metal machine.

A machine that’s as unrelenting as a wrecking ball in full flight – and just as devastating too! For ‘Dead Man’s Eyes’ picks up the baton and races off at a hundred fucking miles an hour, the head bang ability increasing tenfold as every metalhead in the world rocks their head back and forth in an attempt to keep up with the band! Which I reckon might be a little futile, Rage speeding faster than the speed of light – and at 186,000 miles per second, that’s fast! Fucking fast! But then Rage have always been a fast band, ‘Afterlifelines’ roaring on with the much heavier sounding ‘Mortal’, the band turning more menacing, with Peavy snarling viciously! Yet among all the vicious menace, the bands incredible melodious intent shines through brighter than a thousand suns – best put your sunglasses on readers, or else get blinded! For ‘Afterlifelines’ is putting in a blinding performance, striding on with a level of majesty not heard so far, ‘Toxic Waves’ entering the fray with a bold elegance! Rage are standing tall and proud right in the heart of metal country, exactly where the borders of power, thrash and traditional heavy metal meet – a stance the band have held for over forty years!

Forty years eh! That’s a lot of years to remain at the top, at the front, at the pinnacle of the metal hierarchy – but when you consider the calibre, skill and dedication of Peavy, it’s no surprise! Rage aren’t known as “one of the greatest metal bands on the planet” for nothing – the album storming on with ‘Waterwar’. And a scorching turn of speed, Rage seamlessly blending the aggression of thrash with the pace of power metal to deliver a belter that’s gonna vigorously rock the head of every listener, fan and follower on the planet! And with a current estimate of over eight billion people on planet Earth – that’s a lot of heads to be rocking back and forth all at once! So come on readers, join in with the masses and get your head fucking moving – ‘Justice Will Be Mine’ cruising in to maintain the incredible intensity of ‘Afterlifelines’. And at one helluva quick pace too, Rage roaring down the autobahn at full throttle, ignoring speed limits and outgunning the local Verkehrspolizei. Even the die hard head bangers of the world are gonna have difficulty in keeping up with the band, they’re just so fucking fast!

Every song heard so far has clocked in at around four minutes in length, paving the way for a quick moving, unforgiving rampage of all out head bang ability, Rage showing absolutely no sign of slowing down as the album strides on with ‘Shadow World’ – the bands dazzling mix of thrash and power metal commanding the airways with total aplomb. I tell ya readers, you’re gonna have to go a long fucking way to find another band as good as Rage – the German outfit a dominant force in the metal world. And dominant for so long too – ‘Life Among The Ruins’ keeping the pedal firmly pressed to the metal, ‘Afterlifelines’ marching on with extremely high levels of elegance and majesty. The bold head held high attitude of the album is beyond belief, every song on offer oozing more pull than that of Earth’s gravity! And we all know how strong gravity’s pull is – stops us all from falling of the face of the planet for fuck’s sake! And with less power and oomph than everything heard so far, ‘Cold Desire’ glides in on the crest of a mellow wave – for all of the first forty seconds or so! And then bish bash bosh, we’re back on the hard and heavy metal trail once more, Rage resuming the all out power metal attack of ‘Afterlifelines’.

An attack that’s far from over – we’ve only just begun the second CD! And there’s still no sign of the band slowing down, ‘Root Of Our Evil’ marching on with one foot firmly on the monitor, the other rooted in heavy metal territory, Rage pounding the ground just as hard now as when ‘Afterlifelines’ began! As I mentioned at the start of my review, Peavy and co are one of my all time favourite metal bands, and I make no apology if this review comes over as a little biased in favour of the German legends – in my eyes, they just can’t do anything wrong! And returning the slower pace, tempo and menace heard earlier, ‘Curse The Night’ is a mid tempo thunderstorm of very heavy proportions, nearby buildings crumbling under the sheer weight of ‘Curse The Night’. Weight which is transferred to the sublime symphonic orchestration of ‘One World’, Rage beginning to display just how wide their musical horizons are! Immensely wide if you ask me, for there’s not a ruler in the world long enough to measure just how wide – and at song number sixteen ‘It’s All Too Much’, we finally get one that’s actually longer than the four minute average heard so far! Five minutes plus is how long ‘It’s All Too Much’ clocks in at, yet the band don’t lose any of the power, oomph and intensity of the album up to this point. Simply stunning stuff from the incredible Rage.

And fuck me, two five minute plus songs in a row – the second one ‘Dying To Live’, moving ‘Afterlifelines’ onto a massively different plane to that of every other song heard so far! A ballad come hymn-like atmosphere descends upon the album, engulfing every listener in a cloud of serene elegance, the band striding forth with shoulders back and head held high – Rage not leaving heavy metal territory for a single second! That said, ‘The Flood’ continues the serenity of the previous song – for just the first twenty seconds! And then we’re back pounding the ground hard as ‘The Flood’ sends shockwaves all over the world, everyone everywhere feeling the awesome power of Rage – power that’s been at maximum since ‘Afterlifelines’ began! The German outfit have delivered surprise after surprise, and continue to do so even though the album’s now reached song number nineteen out of twenty one…

…’Lifelines’ clocking in at an incredible ten plus minutes in length! And what a ten minutes – from the atmospheric tension fuelled intro, through the crushing cacophony that leads to the anthemic stroll and the weighty mid tempo march, ‘Lifelines’ is an epic in every way imaginable! And probably a few more too, such is the skilled and inventive songwriting ability of Peavy – delivering the goods time and time again, album after album, year after year! It’s gonna be a really sad day when Rage hang up their instruments – but fingers crossed that’s a long way off yet, with plenty more music to come from the power metal masters. In the here and now though, ‘Lifelines’ is just getting quicker and heavier the longer it runs, certainly doesn’t seem like it’s been running for ten minutes! Outstanding stuff from Rage, who provide listeners with a ‘Interlude’ – two minutes of mellowness to catch a breath after nearly an hour and a half of pulsating power metal. And I advise you all take a deep breath, for the final hurrah is just around the corner – ‘Afterlifelines’ coming to a close with (the appropriately titled) ‘In The End’. And a magnificence not heard anywhere else on the album, ‘In The End’ a majestic hymn-like stroll oozing with all the panache of a show stopping finale, totally deserving of the standing ovation I’m giving it. What an album! And what a band! And a definite, and very strong Album Of The Year contender.

Overall, a stunning album of power come heavy metal, full to the brim with a wide array of infectious and highly head bang-able songs.

TRACKLIST

In The Beginning
End Of Illusions
Under A Black Crown
Afterlife
Dead Man’s Eyes
Mortal
Toxic Waves
Waterwear
Justice Will Be Mine
Shadow World
Life Among Ruins
Cold Desire
Root Of Our Evil
Curse The Night
One World
It’s All Too Much
Dying To Live
The Flood
Lifelines
Interlude
In The End

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