Released: 1998, Gun Records
Editors Note. Metal-Rules.com was founded in 1995 as a forward thinking site. Our goal is, and always has been, to support Real Metal. The decision was made that very rarely do we ever go back and review an album from before 1995. Does the world really need another CD review of Master Of Puppets, Powerslave or Screaming For Vengeance? We don’t think so. We have always supported what is happening now.
Starting in January, 2014, as we head towards the 20th Anniversary of Metal-Rules.com, we are looking back and filling in a few gaps in the review database. We want to complete the post-1995 review catalogue of some of the bands that we have supported since 1995, when very few, if any, websites were supporting real Metal. It’s fun to go back and revisit some of these albums that we did not review when they were first released. Enjoy!
A six-pack of RAGE!! In celebration of the 30th Anniversary of Germany’s Rage I’m going to reviews 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.
This album came as a bit of a shock to many people, myself included. I didn’t even buy it until years later, not that I did not really like it but it was certainly a major stylistic shift and change in direction for Rage. In hindsight because of the LINGUA MORTIS album and the slow creep of classical music into the Rage sound, it really should not have been that much of a surprise for people, but coming after two killer albums, BLACK IN MIND and END OF ALL DAYS, this album caught people off-guard, again myself included.
XIII was the first new, studio album where the band tried to fully integrate an orchestra and Metal. LINGUA MORTIS a few years back was a bold experiment but in reality was only re-working of three older Rage songs and a medley. This album was fully written with all new songs with the symphony in mind. There were a number of changes this time around as well. The band tried a new studio, a new producer and even the cover art was no longer by Andreas Marshall, who had done the previous five or six albums. XIII is a bit shorter as well, with 11 songs plus intro plus a joke track, running just under an hour. I’ve always had a bit of a problem how the band names their albums, this is the bands 10th full-length studio album of new songs but gets numbered XIII for their 13th release but in reality it is their 19th release. I’m just splitting hairs. I think they added the joke track just so they could have 13 songs but apparently some pressings have the 13th song as ‘Another Wasted Day’.
XIII starts with an orchestral, instrumental called ‘Overture’ before leading into one of the albums strongest tracks ‘From The Cradle To The Grave’. The band does a masterful job of melding the 38+ piece orchestra with the band traditional Metal sound. The band utilized the services of the Lingua Mortis Orchestra who were to become inextricably linked with Rage over the next 15 years. The production is great, everything sounds nice and clear. The album is anchored buy a 14-minute epic song, ‘Changes’, compromised of three songs. Elsewhere the band who by now are known for doing many cover tunes tackle a Rolling Stones songs, ‘Paint It Black’ which gets full symphonic treatment and a weird vocal effect on Peavy’s voice. It’s odd and to this day I still can’t decide if it is brilliant or completely out of place. That song has been covered many, many times by Metal bands from Anvil, to Deep Purple, to Marduk to W.A.S.P. and this is one of the most unique interpretations I have heard. Overall the whole album is huge, bombastic and very much like a soundtrack, which in that sense it succeeds on many levels. XIII has many sonic highs and lows, soaring epic parts and very subtle shades during the melancholy, slow parts. Peavy sings much more on this album than the growl of his last several albums, and he has a decent voice with a passionate delivery.
I feel that one of the weak points of XIII is that there are no fast songs on the album. The whole thing lacks intensity and Metal firepower. Don’t misunderstand, the album is very atmospheric and well-executed but only one song ‘Over and Over’ really gets back to the Rage sound. It is as if they went a bit too far onto the orchestral side, not yet perfectly the balance of later albums. Many of the songs are slow to mid-paced with lots of sparse arrangements. Back to the positive aspects, the song ‘In Vain’ was the first single and it is a very strong song, even if it was more of an epic power ballad. It was issued in three or four versions and is considered a highlight of the record.
Over time I came to embrace this album but it still remains at the lower third of the Rage canon in my opinion. Even so, a weaker Rage album is well worth owning and enjoying. It is an important album in the Rage discography for it’s ambitious attempt at doing something new and laying the ground work for future albums.