Released: 2014, Nuclear Blast
A six-pack of RAGE!! In celebration of the 30th Anniversary of Germany’s Rage I’m going to review some older Rage albums. The albums in this feature are, BLACK IN MIND, LINGUA MORTIS, END OF ALL DAYS, XIII, FULL MOON IN ST. PETERSBURG and the 30th Anniversary compilation, THE SOUNDCHASER ARCHIVES. Please enjoy all the albums in this raging feature.
Rage has always been incredibly prolific. If you exclude those freaky one-man Black Metal bands, in terms of actual ‘real’ bands with members that tour, Rage is in the Top Four most prolific Metal bands of all time with only Alice Cooper, Motorhead and Loudness putting out more full-length albums. They have always been very prolific with extra, non-album tracks making it onto singles, EP’s compilations, re-issues and of course the ever popular Japanese bonus tracks. By my count the band since inception has recorded 63 non-album tracks. So it is not surprising that for their 30th Anniversary two-disc compilation THE SOUND CHASER ARCHIVES they have come up with another whopping 30 songs from the vaults.
At risk of overanalyzing this release, a dedicated Rage fan can glance at the track list and see that the unreleased material is largely culled from the SPV and Nuclear Blast era (2002-2012) and several demos. The bands first era on Noise Records (1986-1994) has seen most of the non-album tracks released as bonus tracks on the 2002 album reissue campaign. Most of the Gun-era tracks (1995-2001) were reissued as a bonus disc attached to a live album. This seemingly inconsequential trivia is actually kind of important for the discerning shopper and informed consumer, because most importantly we want to know how much of this stuff is really rare or unique. The magic numbers are 5, 9, 16 and 21. There are...
-Five (5) new, unreleased songs no one has ever heard before. Five out of 30 is not bad value for a compilation package.
-Nine (9) songs have been issued before but admittedly they are all quite rare, Japanese bonus tracks and so on.
-Sixteen(16) songs are alternate or demo versions of songs that eventually made it onto albums.
-If you include demo and alternate versions that have not been released before the number is technically 21 (16+5) unreleased tracks.
To summarize the math…a massive 21 unreleased songs out of 30 and another nine rare tracks. Is this worth buying? Hell yes! Over two and quarter hours of rare, unreleased rage! The package itself is also gorgeous. The double fold-out, digipak has the six panels that if you follow in the images sequence give a visual representation of the Soundchaser arriving on earth. The booklet is 24 pages long, printed in a nice red colour scheme with almost 50 photos of the band from across the ages. There is a nice two-page collection of photos of most (but not all) the Rage releases which now number over 40 if you include everything. Most importantly is that there are detailed song-by-song liner notes for all 30 tracks with loads of trivia and history. I would have liked the songs listed in chronological order from earliest to most recent, or I would have even accepted vice-versa, instead of a randomly placed sequence, but that is a minor detail.
The music itself is superb. Naturally as a huge Rage fan I am biased but the rare tracks are a real treat. Victor Smolski wrote a number of songs for Nuclear Blasts 20th anniversary album INTO THE LIGHT on which different vocalists from the Nuclear Blast roster would sing. Included here are several of those songs with Peavy’s original vocals and it is interesting to compare the delivery between the various versions. The quality of the demos is still very listenable, although the demos from THE MISSING LINK are pretty raw.
The bonus DVD is pretty cool as well. I won’t go into huge detail but there is an interview with the band that runs about six minutes. There is also a 12 track concert from July 2013, one half Rage and one half with the Lingua Mortis Orchestra. It's a big open air festival and it is a full 80 minute show. There is sort of tour diary of clips from various LMO shows and that segment runs about 45 minutes. Lastly, there are a couple of videos from LMO and 21. The whole thing is well over two hours and is a very good value.
This sets the standard how rarities collections should be done. A lot of thought went into THE SOUNDCHASER ARCHIVES and the gorgeous art from Felipe Franco Machado makes it look even better. This is one of the best compilations I have had the pleasure of enjoying. Other bands could learn a thing or two from Rage about quality.