Veteran German Power Metal band Rage (because I reckon even Rage main-man Peavy will be OK with the ‘veteran’ term after 37 years in the business delivering 23 studio albums, not to mention all the EPs and live stuff) return to build on 2017’s decisive “Season’s Of The Black” album. Initially formed as Avenger in the early 80’s, the one constant, and surely the most instantly recognizable thing about the band is the constant driving force of vocalist/bassist Peavy Wagner. In the mid 80’s it was the high vocal Power/Speed approach, the 90’s saw a groovier slant and after multiple guitarist and drummer line-up changes, vocals dropping an octave or so, as the band steadily got more symphonic and adventurous. However with more line-up changes, re-birth and rediscovery of earlier, heavier sounds, this modern incarnation of Rage sees Peavy at his happiest and most content yet.

And it shows – Rage’s sound may have fluxed a little one way then the other over the years, but the seed of Power Metal always remained, it just got prefixed with other things at times, and as with their previous release, song-writing and arrangements are coming thick and fast for a band enjoying feeling at home in their own skin. It’s nice to hear nods to previous albums/styles being allowed to creep in once more as Rage deliver a good solid varied album with unrelenting power and heaviness (or should that be Peaviness?). They are a three piece, generally usurping obtrusive overbearing orchestration in favour of honest Metal back-to-basics song-writing and to be fair, doing it as well as anyone else. I say “generally”, because out of nowhere on this album you are presented with ‘A Nameless Grave’, a track utterly riddled with the stuff, but as an album it is still in keeping, and (along with the central passage to ‘Shine A Light’) gives a acknowledging nod towards the Rage of a decade ago.

Another example of the band’s willingness to tie their career together a little more in their current guise, is that the album even includes the track ‘HTTS 2.0’, which is a re-working of their 1996 track ‘Higher Than The Sky’ (see what they did there?), re-sculpting it to fit perfectly with their current sound so that if you didn’t know the original you would never notice. Peavy sounds vocally confident, enthusiastic and relaxed with the shape Rage are in nowadays. The songs suit the band and because they are now starting to celebrate who they have been, it evidently makes them a tighter unit moving ever forward. Rage write albums for their legions of loyal fans, and this is another one that will not disappoint them. Another high-class dose of Heavy Power Metal that couldn’t be anyone else other than Rage.

(7.5/10 Andy Barker)