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Welcome to the Other Side
August 2001
Released: 2001, GUN
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: CrashTest

Germany’s Rage have been around forever. I’ve been a metalhead forever. So why don’t I know more about these guys? After cranking out some 15 plus albums during their existence, you’d think I would’ve picked up more than just one measly album before now. Especially since the one I do have is the early 90s release Trapped!, which was a decent slab of power metal. Go figure. At any rate, Welcome to the Other Side showcases a bit of a different style from earlier Rage, a progression if you will, as it’s still power metal but much more orchestrated than what I’ve heard from the band in the past.

Knowing beforehand that WTTOS is a concept album, it didn’t take long to figure out that the “other side” is the afterlife. I haven’t studied the lyrics intensely enough to master the details, but suffice it to say that the theme centers around the darker side of the great beyond. Despite being a concept album, the songs on WTTOS are strong enough to stand on their own. The strongest tracks are Paint the Devil on the Wall, The Mirror In Your Eyes, I’m Crucified and the title track, although I can’t think of a single song on the CD that I don’t like. A personal highlight of the album comes around the midpoint of Point of No Return, where vocalist Peavey growls “and the devil sends the beast with wrath” while the music builds to a crescendo behind him. If hearing that doesn’t give you a rush, check your damn pulse!

While the music alone is enough for me to recommend WTTOS, the thing that impresses me most is the guitar play of Victor Smolski. Smolski’s prowess caught my ear from the first listen and I don’t usually pick up individual parts on the first spin of a CD. His playing reminds me of some of the guitar styles of the 80s ... sorta like George Lynch meets Nuno Bettencourt. Interestingly enough, Smolski is one of the newer members of the band and his addition seems to have injected new life into things. A glance at the credits shows he’s responsible for writing most of the music and arranging all the orchestral arrangements. Not bad, considering Peter “Peavey” Wagner has been the heart and soul of the band from the beginning.

I have only one very minor gripe with this album. Sometimes the music seems a little “happy” considering the theme. The chorus during the song I’m Crucified is a good example, but as I’ve said, I’m nitpicking. The truth of the matter is, this CD has rarely left my player since I bought it two weeks ago. Fans of Savatage and the most recent Virgin Steele and Nocturnal Rites albums will dig this one especially, but it’s a safe bet to say that most metal fans in general will also.

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