Released: 2012, Metalville Records
Count me in when a project involving anyone associated with Astral Doors is assembled. The founder in this case is Astral Doors guitarist, Joachim Nordllund and close friend, drummer Tomas Friberg. Sky of Rage came together as the two friends sat down to listen to some old school heavy metal, and one imagines, imbibe a few cold ones. The predictable and welcome result was an album that contains retro elements but is much more of a modern metal album. Swedish bands have pretty much nailed this style down, and so while this bears some resemblance to Astral Doors, it is similar enough to at least a dozen other bands to avoid winning any innovation contests.
Despite the lack of originality, Sky of Rage offers a potent brew of aggressive power metal and classic metal. The predictable metal-ness of the album cover clearly reveals what lies within. Elements of Iced Earth and Mystic Prophecy come to mind guitar wise, while singer Staffan Carlsson clearly has been influenced by Matt Barlow. While most of the album maintains a mid-paced tempo, there are enough mixtures of chunky and quick palm mutes to lend a faster momentum to many of the songs. Credit Metalville Records with its ability to find cool bands, and the production and mix from Martin Haglund is up front and bruising. Unquestionably, this is a guitar-oriented album, and while the rest of the band performs admirably, it is the guitar that gets the spotlight.
Sky of Rage’s execution is spot on and delivers intelligent lyrics with solid compositions. On the other hand, the music and the band lack a compelling identity, and as a result there is no unique personality that shines through. While enjoyable, in the end it sounds like a flawlessly crafted product from an assembly line, resembling so many other flawlessly crafted yet soulless albums. Nevertheless, SOR is a solid and safe album, sure to please many while offending few. Recommended for fans of Astral Doors, Iced Earth, and other aggressive power metal bands.