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Speak of the Dead
Released: 2006, Nuclear Blast
So now I have it, my biggest expectation for 2006, Rage’s new opus, SPEAK OF THE DEAD. With both UNITY and SOUNDCHASER being my number 1 albums for the respective years they were released, I think it’s fully understandable for me to expect something that will at least make my top 10 by the end of the year… Unfair for the band? You betcha.
Only two years ago this very band was celebrating their 20th Anniversary with double CD and double DVD releases. Not being ones to dwell too long on past glories Rage has pressed onward with SPEAK OF THE DEAD. SPEAK OF THE DEAD is marked with a single song clocking in at over 20 minutes in length, taking up the first half of the album. Hell, for any band to even attempt this is commendable, let alone one that could easily rehash year after year and still see fans lap up whatever they dish out.
While SOUNDCHASER saw the band delve into a concept for the entire album and UNITY gave the band a chance to really find and define their current sound, SPEAK OF THE DEAD gives more of everything that was prevalent on the two prior albums. The album sees Rage at probably their most over the top and, quite possibly in some eyes, their most self-indulgent. With that said, this is probably the first Rage album that didn’t instantly hit me and have me humming along to choruses. There’s a definite lack of obvious hooks; where the band used to play with insanely catchy choruses and vocal lines, there’s a new found emphasis on the musicianship to carry the songs, as opposed to Peavy’s vocals. Not to say the musicianship was lacking on the prior albums, cause it certainly wasn’t, but on prior albums if one just wanted catchy music to play as background music and sing along to, it was there and if someone wanted to delve deeper, that was there too. This time, that little, almost slightly pop, sheen has been dirtied and while things feel bigger and more grandiose (especially during the opening track which features an orchestra in a very prominent role), it’s almost stripped down in some ways.
As said before, the album opens with “Suite Lingua Mortis” which sees the band bring back the classical elements they utilized quite prominently in the late 90’s. The difference now is that there isn’t any confusion as to who and what Rage is now, it’s not as much of a shock to fans as they obviously don’t ditch the speed in favour of having the orchestra take over. Seeing as the “Suite Lingua Mortis” is so long (over 20 minutes) it’s split into separate parts for ease of distinction and presumably for those that aren’t interested in the short interludes that happen throughout the song. “Suite Lingua Mortis” has it all throughout its long length, it has the fast sections, it has your more moody numbers, mid-paced pieces, and even a nice catchy chorus here and there. It has everything Rage is known for, including some sections that definitely play up the band’s musicianship, especially in the opening movements.
After “Suite Lingua Mortis” those who might have been thrown off will find their typical Rage tracks which make up the second half of the album. The unfortunate thing is that they’re almost too typical. With the album opening with Rage’s most experimental and expansive song, one might find themselves a little under whelmed in hitting “No Fear” right afterwards. Certainly there are some great tracks to behold in the fast paced “Kill Your Gods”, catchy “Turn My World Around” as well as pretty much every other track. I mean, Rage really can do no wrong but I can’t help but feel somewhat disappointed here.
I’m honestly somewhat confused here. The album is a good one but it’s not the album I wanted necessarily. I’m disappointed and yet, not. Fault the reviewer on this one and not the band. Still a good Rage album and one I will crawl back to. Maybe my expectations really were too high?
1. Morituri te Salutant
2. Prelude of Souls
5. No Regrets
9. No Fear
10. Soul Survivor
11. Full Moon
12. Kill Your Gods
13. Turn My World Around
14. Be With Me or Be Gone
15. Speak of the Dead
Peter "Peavy" Wagner - Vocals, Bass
Victor Smolski - Guitars, Keyboards
Mike Terrana - Drums
Speak of the Dead
Released: 2006, Nuclear Blast/Sound Pollution
Reviewer: Anders Sandvall
Until the Helloween’s “Rabbit Don't Come Easy” tour, Rage was a totally unknown band to me, and it's pretty strange that I haven't noticed this German act when noticing their long history in the business. Last year the band celebrated 20 years in the business; their debut album was released in 1985. To honor that, they released the DVD/CD box FROM THE CRADLE TO THE STAGE, a box that raised every true Rage fan’s hearts a notch. Mastermind, bandleader, and the only original member Peter "Peavy" Wagner has a predilection for classical music; something that he shares with band member Victor Smolski.
SPEAK OF THE DEAD is divided in two parts. The first part is called SUITE LINGUA MORTIS and is built up by 8 separate songs, 5 of them strictly instrumental. In those tracks appears a symphony orchestra from Minsk, White Russia where guitar player Victor Smolski comes from. Rage plays strictly old classical German heavy metal and the first part of the album is well-played and includes really beautiful arrangements with the symphony orchestra. I don't know, though, if an orchestra on a metal album is so impressive. I mean, it's been done before both by Rage and other acts, but it surely adds atmosphere to the music. The other half of the album is far more impressive and fun. In that half there's only Rage playing their music straight up and down, and no orchestra is included. Rage plays their distinctive heavy metal, which is both technical and fast, and it really appeals to the heavy metal savage in me. Victor Smolski is a genius on guitar, and along with Mike Terrana on drums, nothing can go wrong.
SPEAK OF THE DEAD is quite long: 15 songs spanning about one hour, but at the end it doesn't feel that long. Maybe the first part could have been narrowed down in favor of the second one but despite that, the album is a total masterpiece and a brilliant show of how genuine heavy metal ought to be played. I can really recommend this not only to Rage fans but also to any fan of classical heavy metal. Rage deserves to gain success worldwide, not only in Germany and its surrounding countries. It's really hard to pick any killer tracks but I'll give it a try in the following: "Speak Of The Dead", "Beauty", "No Fear", "Soul Survivor", "Full Moon", "Kill Your Gods", "Turn My World Around", "Be With Me Or Be Gone", and "Innocent".
The song "No Fear" has been shot for a video and it lies on the soundtrack album to the German independent psycho thriller Ludgers in case anyone is interested to watch it.
Mortituri te Salutant (instr)
Prelude Of Souls (instr)
Kill Your Gods
Turn My World Around
Be With Me Or Be Gone
Speak of The Dead
Peter Wagner - bass, lead vocals
Victor Smolski - guitar
Mike Terrana - drums