Rage - Speak Of The Dead (Nuclear Blast Records) - Back
German metal band Rage has been pumping out conceptual hard-driving music for the last twenty years. Their latest release “Speak Of The Dead” continues in their long-running tradition of powerful and frighteningly captivating music.

The music on “Speak Of The Dead” is very complexly structured; combining elements of thrash/power metal with light symphonic interludes and accents which contribute to the aggressive tambour Rage is famous for. The main musical focus is the rhythm guitar riffs which give the aggressive rhythms shape and tone. Right away you will notice that the band is comprised of very talented musicians from the vocals down to the drumming. Speaking of the drumming, there is a very nice drum solo in the instrumental track “Confusion” which I am very fond of because it showcases the potential of all of the musical elements that make up Rage’s unique style.

The vocals on the album are also very good although they are a little harsh on some of the album’s softer moments such as the song “Beauty” and portions of the otherwise aggressive anthem “Full Moon.” The gruff tone of the vocals contributes very well to the overall aggressive sound of the album, very similar to the vocal style of Jon Oliva of Savatage although most of Rage’s vocals are low to midrange.

Due to the very complex and talented musicianship exhibited on this album, Rage’s sound is a bit of an acquired taste. At first I wasn’t sure if I liked it because the symphonic elements seemed contrasting to the otherwise aggressive sound put forth both by the guitar/bass/drums and the implications of both the band name and album title. However, after listening to the songs individually amongst the rest of my music I felt the urge to listen to the entire album through again and noticed that the symphonic works are an equal part of the band’s sound which does fit very well with the band’s name and album title.

There are a few songs on the album that really stand out such as “No Regrets, which sounds as if it was inspired by elements of modern rock, “Full Moon” which clearly displays the band’s ability to make solid transitions from hard to soft textures. There is also a song called “Michi-Shi Tsuki” which is an alternate version of “Full Moon” completely sung in German I believe although the title seems very Japanese. Although I personally enjoy songs sung in other languages, I have considered this to be one of the best songs on the album because it shows just how fluidly the lyrics translated into English as there is absolutely no difference in the vocal melody.

Although I cannot speak for Rage’s prior works, I can safely assume that they have maintained a heavy sound throughout their career which German metal bands appear to be very good at doing unlike many American metal gods who are always “changing with the times.”

I highly recommend this album and Rage in general (based on this album) although it was hard to dive right into it. If you have a thirst for unadulterated heavy metal, this is your band, no doubt about it!

Absolutely awesome. An interesting fusion of symphonic and thrash/power metal.

Rating:
95

Reviewed By: Brian Grefrath