Sometimes writing a review isn’t as easy as you might initially think. I mean, I’m sat here trying to find expansive and interesting ways to say “if you liked their last album you’ll like this one”. I’m not being unimaginative – even the band themselves have said that this is the case and the main reason there has only been a gap of 14 months since their last album (they effectively wanted to get some similar material out there as soon as possible, such is their enthusiasm at the moment). A reviewers task is added to by the fact that a band being on their 23rd album have probably made their style well known already in the last 30-odd years. And…AND, I have the added difficulty of being the Ave Noctum writer who reviewed their last album, already describing how it differed from some of their back catalogue, yet was similar in style to others…but I think putting the effort into another review is the least I can do if Rage have done the deed 22 times previously…

So, quick recap then – Rage, 3 piece German Power Metal band led by Peavy Wagner, formed in the mid 80’s, high vocals, lots of albums and line-up changes, vocals dropped an octave, a few more albums and more line-up changes, steadily got more symphonic and adventurous, more line-up changes, re-birth and rediscovery of earlier, heavier sound, album 22 emerged with Peavy happy again…and we’re up to date! Actually Peavy’s rekindled enthusiasm is what is fueling this new Rage and the reason behind another release so soon. Too soon? Well, not if you are basically saying to your fans that it’s effectively more of the same, because it’s what those fans want.

Besides, it isn’t exactly more of the same, it’s eleven songs in a concurrent style with the previous album, concentrating on punchy, memorable tracks but additionally this time 4 of them are grouped together conceptually under the title ‘The Tragedy Of Man’ (complete with acoustic opener ‘Gaia’ and packed with power and melody right through to the anthemic and surprisingly ballad-esque ‘Farewell’) to round out the album. Before you get to that though, there’s the small matter of seven utterly Rage tracks careering energetically towards you. From the opening Speed Metal of the title track, the album explodes with heavy, pounding drums, galloping, driving bass, urgent, shredding guitars and Peavy’s instantly (even lower, more abrasive and gravellier than normal at times!) recognizable vocal lines – ‘Blackened Karma’ for instance couldn’t be anyone other than Rage! There’s plenty of variation as the album progresses – catchy, memorable hooks, some great guitar solos and power-a-plenty as the band crashes through the album’s battery.

Rage know their fans and there is much to please both new and old throughout. They’ve tried pushing their own boundaries in various ways throughout their career but 2017 finds them completely happy in their own skin, playing to their strengths and relishing it. Incidentally, as a further nod towards linking both past and present, and as an added treat for those fans, the band have included an EP of re-recorded early tracks, most originally under their previous guise as Avenger. So only 14 months between albums AND a bonus EP – What a lucky bunch Rage fans are!

(7.5/10 Andy Barker)