Released: 2010, Nuclear Blast
It's 2010, and one of my all-time favorite power metal bands, Rage, has released yet another album. This German metal band has been kicking around for 25 years, and while their line-up has almost completely changed (only front-man Peavey Wagner still remains) they haven't lost their touch – or their sound.
STRINGS TO A WEB contains all of the elements we've come to expect from Rage, especially those that came about since guitarist Victor Smolki joined the band around 1999. Specifically, their sound has taken on a more melodic and often times orchestral feel, while their earlier material was more straightforward classic metal. This is a good thing; Rage have a unique sound that transcends mere Sword and Sorcery-style power metal, without ever feeling too spacey, like the other extreme of the genre tends to do.
Despite how great this album is, I must admit that I was disappointed the first two or three times I listened to it. The album's opening track, "The Edge of Darkness", didn't really grab me the way that I expected, despite its high-adrenaline intro. I was also not entirely impressed with track three, "In to the Light" which, while not a bad song, isn't particularly great either. By the time I hit track four, "The Beggar's Last Dime" though, everything's up-hill and golden.
The high point of STRINGS TO A WEB though is the five-part series, "Empty Hollow". It is one of the band's best epic to date, and demonstrates just how diverse their sound can be. Of special note is André Hilgers' ability to kick your ass with his pummeling drums; I used to think that nobody could replace Mike Terrana, but Hilger shows us exactly what he is made of here. The last five tracks of the album close out with some typical Rage awesomeness, including plenty of shredding by Smolski, and some catchy choruses featuring Wagner's rather unique voice.
Overall, STRINGS TO A WEB is another killer release from one of Germany's finest metal bands. Whether you've been listening to the band for decades or are picking up one of their albums for the first time, there isn't much to go wrong with here. It wouldn't be my first recommendation for the band, but it is definitely a solid choice.