RAGE – Resurrection Day

RAGE – Resurrection Day

It looks and sounds like a little more than a coincidence that the new, twenty-fourth Rage album (twenty-fifth, if you count Avenger’s "Prayers Of Steel" as the debut) bears a similar title as Evergrey’s landmark 2003 release, "Recreation Day". Whether we like it or not, bands watch and emulate one another but it’s not always a bad thing. In any case, what really counts is the music and what we have on "Resurrection Day" is a vast improvement from the already excellent career summary "Wings Of Rage", released, mind you, a mere 20 months ago. The fact that "Wings Of Rage" received the same score is no way indicative of the similar quality for "Resurrection Day" is definitely a better album. The only way to account for this creative outpour is the same I have been pointing to for quite some time: the global pandemic which forced musicians to cancel shows and write about how much that changed their lives and the lives of people around them. This way we have an absolute unprecented onslaught of new music coming at us from every direction, both of my email accounts bearing a weekly rain of about 100 emails per account. It’s easy to miss something in such storm, which makes me glad I cought and downloaded the new Rage album.

It’s amazing how much change a year and few months can make in the band’s sound, with some songs not even resembling the same band from "Wings Of Rage"! True, Marcos Rodríguez (guitars, additional vocals) left replaced by Jean Bormann and Stefan "Störmer" Weber and Rage is now a twin guitar monster. So we still love Megadeth (Age Of Reason) and Helloween (A New Land) as much as we did before but now we also appreciate Machine Head old (Arrogance And Ignorance) and new (Monetary Gods) and we esteem fast thrash metal so much, it’s now part of almost every song. We don’t shy away from Arena Oriented Metal (Mind Control), hard rock (Menetary Gods), metalcorish melodiscism a’la As I Lay Dying (A New Land) or even blackened death vocals (Arrogance And Ignorance). But best of all, the ability of Rage to write fresh melodies catchy as the virus threatening them has increased dramatically. These are hooks which grip onto you from the first application and then stay in your head for a long time. But enough teasing.

Already the opening title track, prefaced by a bombastic symphonic intro, will have you reeling with heavy metal pleasure, while the faster Evergreyan "Virginity", about humanity’s irreperably regressing into jungle animals, will drive its pounding meaty chorus like a steak through your heart. For the people who don’t much like power metal there’s a very power metallic wonderful anthem "A New Land" which will make them reassess their preferences. But the biggest "hit" to these ears is insanely catchy "Arrogance And Ignorance", a kind of 90s Megadeth with arcane Machine Headian riffing doused with almost death metal parts complete with actual growls. I’m not actually sure if it’s "A New Land", "Arrogance And Ignorance", the hard rocking while Cowboys Pantera recalling "Age Of Reason" or the heavily "Blood & Diamond" while John Bush Antraxing "Monetary Gods" which I could call my favorite, but I do know that the closer "Extinction Overkill" is one of the sexiest thrashers I have ever heard and Metallica never included on "Ride The Lightening" so that one may actually be my favorite. I also know that I am getting strong "Cryptic Writings" lighter tracks Megadeth and AOR from "Mind Control" as well as Iron Maiden, Blind Guardian and Dark Tranquillity’s "Projector" vibes from the bombastic "Traveling Through Time" with the last two tracks growing on me fast.

As for frontman Peter "Peavy" Wagner (vocals, bass), he doubles and triples with admirable various vocal applications as he always has before but that he growls in some tracks is a stunning surprise. His bass is deeply felt (Man In Chains), especially in the more balladic moments (The Age Of Reason, Black Room), while Vassilios "Lucky" Maniatopoulos drums can sound as powerful as tom toms (Man In Chains, Extinction Overkill ) all of which evidences the fantastic production, meaty, mean yet clear and nuanced allowing for this amazing variety of sounds and paces, towering above the last year’s predecessor. For a band with a history almost as old as Metallica the energy, the creativity, the absolute, unquestionable and unferretered love for heavy metal they are so amazingly able to enchant in notes and words is nothing short of a miracle.

There are literally just 2 tracks on this album that I’m not too enthusiastic about. In case of the first one, "Man In Chains", it could be just that it follows the fantastic "Arrogance And Ignorance" but it is precisely that type of generic power metal stuff I usually stay away from, a nemesis to "A New Land", if you will. The second, "Black Room" happens to be the ballad on the album. I don’t know if that was intended but Peavy’s verse vocals give me the same creeps I get from Dave Scott Mustaine in Megadeth’s "The Hardest Part Of Letting Go…Sealed With A Kiss", the age of both gentlemen is showing, but I have to admit that Peavy’s soaring vocals in chorus are great and that chorus, resembling though Metallica’s "Unforgiven II" (which I like) is what saves this otherwise rather forgettable track. But these are my only two gripes about this otherwise fantastic album. Again, I may have given it a 5/6 but the score is more like 5.3/6.

It seems that the way of the future for heavy metal, especially the veteran acts, is the eclectic approach, abandoning the niche they may have painted themselves once in and embracing other genres and influences, even those seemingly incompatible with their core sound. This approach worked for Carcass on "Torn Arteries" and works for Rage on "Resurrection Day". Additionally, Rage reminds me of Flotsam And Jetsam with this seemingly reckless abandon to creating better, catchier, more meaninful and hard hitting songs than ever before. May they both continue to do so for years to come.