Rage - The Devil Strikes Again

Rage The Devil Strikes Again cover
The Devil Strikes Again
Nuclear Blast
Rage are proving quite tough “bastards” to beat. No matter what fate throws their fate, they seem to be able to pick up, revolving always around mainman, bassist/singer Peavy Wagner and different line-ups.
Basically, presently the “old/classic” line-up performs the “classic” “Refuge” era material for the most part while the “actual” band is supposed to take care of pretty much everything else. Re-born as a different trio, the band keeps its post millennial massive sound, but with Lucky/Rodriguez taking things into a simpler more straightforwardly metal direction than Smolski’s “technocratic” material that wasn’t bad by any means but seemingly was not as appealing to the “crowds”. With an overall whiff from the “Black in Mind” days, but a more up to date sound, the band sounds as good as it ever did, but certainly more focused delivering the best material they have in probably over a decade (since “Speak of the Dead”)…
The title track is as classic a Rage track as any, a fast and hard hitting opener, with borderline thrash aspirations, but tons of melody, just as you and I like it…
“My Way”, which is the lead single, is mid-tempo, but has the same sort of “bite” and “spirit” a testament to the bands renewed resolve and Peavy’s vision.
Probably wanting to get all bad blood out of the system “Back on Track” seems like another in-direct, remark to the “ghost” years, and it’s more playful, lighter and quite swift.
“The Final Curtain” is more direct, heavy but still bearing all trademarks of the band’s classic sound.
“War” begins with some heavy double bass footwork, to transform in a fluctuating, dynamic anti-war anthem… one of the highlight tracks of the album.
“Ocean Full of Tears” continues down a similar path, but is more straightforward and manages to again impress enough with a quite nice chorus, following a huuuuge bridge/verse.
“Deaf, Dumb and Blind” begins with one of those more “percussive” Rage moments over a pretty nice riff and repeats it over, again delivering a pretty neat chorus.
But nowhere near as cool as that of “Spirits of the Night” probably one of the better songs the band has written since the “Welcome to the Other Side” album…
“Times of Darkness” is the spiritual brethren of “War” but far more sinister and dark, with slight hues of Metallica of the good olden days, among other things…
While “Dark Side of the Sun” manages to encompass a lot of qualities that made Rage great into a single track, that’s far from basic, without going for the over the top “Smolski” approach either. The lead however is “sweet” and overall it closes the album in a great way….
Two more “special editions” exist one with a second in a simple digibook with 3 bonuses “Bring Me Down”, a rather ok mid-tempo that feels a bit softer than the rest of the album, without being bad, “Requiem” is somewhat better, still melodic and a bit more convincing chorus wise, with “Into the Fire” being probably the best of the bunch with its glorious melodies and transition from almost acoustic to a heavy anthem that would give Blind Guardian a run for their money, in anthemic songwriting… also 3 nicely executed covers round off the second cd of this “deluxe edition”, Skid Row’s “Slave to the Grind”, Rush’s “Bravado” and Y&T’s “Open Fire” a wide and nice selection of material to cover that is neither “predictable” or “boring”. If you elect to go all the way for the DVD sized “Book – 3 CD, deluxe edition” you can also add a nine song live CD culled from Warsaw’s show this year (that’s FAST btw) as well as a nicer more extended and bigger booklet.
All in all, the new Rage is all the Rage! It’s almost as good as the “old” shit and doesn’t have to feel like it has to compete with the Smolski era, either as it manages to pick the best of both worlds and forge a new way, its own way, forward.