Released: 2013, Nuclear Blast
It’s rare that a band actually gets more productive as they age and as they pass through their career cycle. Rage is one of those cases. The band has pretty consistently putting out a new studio album pretty much every second year since the 80’s. Back in 1996 the band moved away from straight up Metal and started to started to write symphonic songs with the release of LINGUA MORTIS and Peavy’s collaboration with the Orchestra. Over the next 10 albums the band integrated the orchestral sound into their style. On some albums like 13 and GHOSTS the orchestral sound was quite dominant and on some albums like UNITY and SOUNDCHASER it was much less present. Most of the other albums were a integrated blend of Metal and Orchestral and SPEAK OF THE DEAD was split 50-50, half orchestral, half Metal in an oddly sequenced album that left some fans cold.
I had the pleasure of speaking to Victor Smolski a few years back and he said that the band has two main groups of fans; the orchestral fans, and the Metal/Thrash fans. The band has made a conscious attempt to break into two bands, Rage being the heavy band where they will drop all of the symphonic styling and the new project, Lingua Mortis Orchestra, that will focus on the orchestral styles. Fans of either type can pick and choose which project they want to follow and support. The band will do one Lingua Mortis Orchestra album one year and a Rage album the next. For a fan like me who likes BOTH styles equally, this is fantastic because essentially it means Rage has essentially become twice as productive, with an album every year. I hope they can keep the pace up and keep the creativity and song-writing quality high. I don’t think I have to worry as Smolski and Peavy are two of the most prolific song-writers in Metal with over 20 albums written and recorded, more than 99.99% of all metal bands.
True to their word, last year, (2012) the band, Rage, put out their album called 21, by far the heaviest album they had done in years. Now in 2013 we get the debut LMO album. I was a little concerned that Lingua Mortis Orchestra might completely drop any semblance of heaviness or Metal, but that is not the case. LMO is basically another Rage album that fits in with the mellower releases like the aforementioned, LINGUA MORTIS, 13 and GHOSTS. It is going to be almost impossible to separate the two in mind, it will be an interesting experiment to see if the two projects can co-exist, and sustain a fan-base.
LMO is a fantastic debut album. It has a gorgeous cover and it certainly leans towards the symphonic side with female vocals, strings, woodwinds and more. It is a concept album about witch-hunts. Oddly enough it is very similar territory in concept and lyrics to Victor Smolski’s debut solo album from 2000 called THE HERETIC. I found it odd he would go back to these ideas again, it is almost he wasn’t happy with his solo album and is reworking it with the Lingua Mortis Orchestra replacing the White Russian Orchestra of Belarus. Peavy is the main vocalist and his rough and ready voice is so associated with Rage it is hard to separate them. Further blurring the distinction, has added two tracks on the end of the album which are orchestral remakes of, you guessed it, Rage songs! Both cuts, ‘Straight to Hell’ and ‘One More Time’ are from the under-rated WELCOME TO THE OTHER SIDE album.
Despite all the similarities and familiar composers and musicians, LMO is does have many of its own unique characters. The flow of a concept album is far more like a soundtrack and the Orchestra is very busy playing their hearts out. The soprano lead vocals of Dana Harnage are something new and she does a fine job. If I had to draw a parallel, the Lingua Mortis Orchestra is closer to what Nightwish is doing. This is a sound I love, and so there is lots to explore. The delicate instrumental ‘Oremus’ could fit on a Disney movie soundtrack and the crushing drumming of Andre Hilgers on ‘Witches Judge’ could be on a heavy Rage album. There is lots of dynamic song-writing with acoustic interludes, sweet vocal duets, piano and more all with Peavy’s and Smolski’s keen ear for a hook.
However, you may want to dissect or analyze this band, LMO by Lingua Mortis Orchestra is epic, bombastic, immensely entertaining and wonderfully composed. It is one of my favourite symphonic Metal albums of the year.