Album Review – Rage / The Devil Strikes Again (2016)

One of the biggest exponents of the German Power Metal scene strikes again with more of their enraged and metallic music.

Rating4

rage_the-devil-strikes-againFormed in 1984 by the iconic Peter “Peavy” Wagner, German Power Metal institution Rage are not even close to call it quits after over 30 years alive and kicking based on the energy flowing from their brand new album, titled The Devil Strikes Again, the 22nd studio installment in their monstrous career and another excellent sample of how exciting German Metal has always been despite all the changes in the world of music we’ve been witnessing. It might not be the best album of their career, but it still has that amazing vibe and punch that elevated Rage to the status of Power Metal icons in their homeland Germany as well as worldwide alongside bands such as Grave Digger, Running Wild and Blind Guardian.

The artwork by German artist Karim König is already a good indication of what you’ll find in The Devil Strikes Again: raw, honest and furious Rage-style Power Metal, with no shenanigans or any other “artificial ingredients”. In addition, although this is the first album to feature the power trio formed by Peavy on bass and vocals, Venezuelan musician Marcos Rodríguez on guitars (who by the way met Peavy on Rage’s 30th anniversary tour, when his own band Soundchaser were the support band for part of the tour) and Greek sledgehammer Vassilios “Lucky” Maniatopoulos on drums , that doesn’t mean their instruments are disconnected at all. Quite the contrary, spearheaded by Peavy, The Devil Strikes Again gives the sensation they’ve been together for decades due to its cohesiveness and overall quality.

Kicking off this heavy album we have the title-track The Devil Strikes Again,  an enraged storm of Power Metal made in Germany, fast and berserk just the way we love, where Lucky starts blasting his drums before Peavy comes firing his unmistakable raspy screams. Well, with that devilish name I couldn’t expect anything less badass than this. My Way is another classic Rage tune with the grim guitar riffs by Marcos giving a touch of modernity to it, boosted by its addictive chorus flawlessly sung by Peavy, who also rumbles his bass like no one else; whereas Back on Track sounds taken from an old Rage album, being recommended for admirers of  old school German Power Metal due to its very traditional fast-paced rhythm, not to mention its melodic vocal lines that prove Peavy is just getting better with age.

The Final Curtain is slightly generic compared to the previous tracks but still a good listen, with the metallic guitar sound by Marcos (including his nice solos) being the main ingredient of the song, followed by War, one of the most thrilling of all songs of the album. Overflowing Heavy Metal and adrenaline, this sensational tune presents a brutal intro followed by a sinister break, with Peavy grasping the song’s acid lyrics powerfully (“In the eyes of the big global players everything’s alright, / It’s their god-given right to abuse us, / So thank you and good night. / In the world’s biggest money machine / They’re delivering the fuel. / Let there be some collateral damage, / That’s their pervert rule, / Yes, that’s their perfect rule.”).

rage-2016In Ocean Full of Tears we’re treated to a thunderous hymn for hitting the road that epitomizes the contemporary sonority by Rage, with Peavy and Marcos delivering sheer metal through their strings, in special the soulful solos by Marcos. They don’t lose a single second and continue their Power Metal extravaganza in Deaf, Dumb and Blind, which follows a similar structure as the previous tune (meaning more high-end metal for us fans). Besides, if you’re a guitar player no matter your style, you’ll simply love the job done by Marcos on this song. And living up to the legacy of the sharper and more visceral German Metal created by Rage and their countrymen Grave Digger and Running Wild, Spirits of the Night brings forward cutting riffs and an old school chorus, with Peavy’s vocals being effectively supported by the song’s potent backing vocals.

The obscure Times of Darkness offers the listener tons of heaviness, but it gets a bit repetitive as time goes by, falling flat after a while even with the potent Doom Metal beats provided by Lucky. On the other hand, the almost 6-minute song The Dark Side of the Sun is by far the most progressive and complex of all tracks, with its blackened lyrics (“In my nightmares, when I die, / I just see my long forgotten, breaking eyes. / I’m afraid I lived a lie, / My life’s challenges, I never did reply. / All so many doors I haven’t tried, / All those wasted chances, ’cause I was afraid. / All the people that I never reached a hand, / ‘Til it was too late, I’m on my final stand.”) matching perfectly with the aggressive musicality crafted by Peavy and his crew. And in case you purchase the Digibook Edition of the album, you’ll get an awesome bonus CD containing three brand new B-sides and three fantastic covers for classics by Skid Row, Rush and Y&T, with Slave to the Grind being the most gripping of them. It might not be as perfect as their versions for “The Trooper” and “Jawbreaker”, but it’s truly electrifying, with Peavy’s vocals fitting the music perfectly.

In summary, the unstoppable Rage, one of the biggest exponents of the German Power Metal scene (although we can say that today they’re only one third German, right?), strike again with more of their infuriated metal for our total delight, pointing to a bright future with this new band lineup without a shadow of a doubt. You can enjoy The Devil Strikes Again even if you’re not a fan of traditional heavy music from Germany, which proves once again that bands like Rage and musicians like Peavy don’t just generate music, they go far beyond that threshold, breathing more adrenaline and power into our everyday lives. And that’s what real metal is all about.

Best moments of the album: The Devil Strikes Again, My Way, War and Slave to the Grind.

Worst moments of the album: The Final Curtain and Times of Darkness.

Released in 2016 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. The Devil Strikes Again 4:25
2. My Way 4:23
3. Back on Track 4:23
4. The Final Curtain 4:13
5. War 4:24
6. Ocean Full of Tears 4:04
7. Deaf, Dumb and Blind 4:18
8. Spirits of the Night 4:52
9. Times of Darkness 5:21
10. The Dark Side of the Sun 5:56

Digibook Edition bonus CD
11. Bring Me Down 5:01
12. Requiem 3:55
13. Into the Fire 5:25
14. Slave to the Grind (Skid Row cover) 3:24
15. Bravado (Rush cover) 4:36
16. Open Fire (Y&T cover) 4:38

Band members
Peter “Peavy” Wagner – vocals, bass
Marcos Rodríguez – guitars, additional vocals
Vassilios “Lucky” Maniatopoulos – drums, additional vocals

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