Rage - Seasons of the Black

Rage Seasons of the Black cover
Seasons of the Black
Nuclear Blast Records
You can’t blame Rage for being slouchy, no sir. They have been active for more than thirty years and this one inclusive have released twenty three albums, the LMO project, countless live albums an EPs and have always delivered pretty consistently both in the studio as well as on the stage… never releasing a “bad” album.
“Seasons of the Black” is no different and the newest line-up of Peavy, Lucky and Marcos, the most basic trio you could have, delivers another album just a year after the really brilliant “The Devil Strikes Back” that’s really also inspired and doesn’t seem to miss a beat, which is a rather impressive task.
The album begins with the eponymous hard hitting “Season of the Black”, a typical fast Rage track of the mid to later period, dark, riffy and to the point with a melodic chorus that hits home without even having to try too hard.
“Serpents in Disguise” is a cautionary tale, about “snake in the grass” people, with a nifty playful riff and a nice beat that could have easily fit on “The End of All Days”, or any of those nice 90s albums that the band released.
While initially I found that the chorus of “Blackened Karma” was a little amiss for it to be a single, its nice riff and melodies more than compensate and in the flow of the album it feels a lot less out of place.
You have to give it to Peavy and co that they are “efficient”. Being in this phase a trio, they don’t funk about and that means that even a relatively simple song like “Time Will Tell” comes equipped with a proper riff and a melody that is sure to work. It’s a little less impressive than the song that precede it, but cut of the same cloth, it’s nowhere even near skip material...
“Septic Bite” starts flirting a bit with being… while it’s dirtier and heavier riff feels nice, its verses are a little less eventful and it’s left upon Peavy’s shoulders to “sell it”, which he does with an extensive bridge/chorus and by employing all his charms. Its inventive solo and general “Met” atmosphere do help it along, so it avoids, rotting away…
And “Walk among the Dead” revisits one of two of the bands favorite topics “Death” and “Black” (hehe)… it’s another heavier number, where the bridge feels never ending before it transforms into a chorus and even a little on the boring side of things… unfortunately.
The band feels almost a little trapped in a number of mid-tempo variations during this latter part of the album and “All We Know is Not” aint’ much different, although this time the riff and melodies are a little more successful in registering with the listener; again the chorus feels like a huge bridge, but unlike its direct predecessor, things escape becoming a grind even barely so. Also that solo is too reminiscent of something else, but for my life, I cannot put my finger on it, so well done!
The last four songs make up a suite that is appropriately enough entitled “The Tragedy of Man”. “Gaia” is an acoustic softly sung intro, lasting a little over a minute and is followed up by the epic “Justify” that’s a lot heavier and manages to inject the album with some much needed energy and melody to keep the listener from falling asleep, with some unusual verse VS chorus transitions along with a little series of leads that Marcos fires up along the way feeling almost like making you dancing! “Bloodshed in Paradise” gets things dark and grim again, while maintaining the style, just turning it over on its head “feel”-wise and has a chorus that’s simple but effective. And to conclude this quasi “sympho-foray” the seven plus minute “Farewell” bids us adieu in a lyrical schadenfreude way that feels like a strangely appropriate way to bring the entire album to a close.
The second CD has the current line-up making light work of six, of the nicest Avenger (pre-Rage band) songs, with the accumulated experience of the thirty plus years helping Peavy avoiding the pitfalls of going off in the deep end – yeah that scream in “Adoration” now isn’t as wild, but also manages to keep in tune. There aren’t huge departures in the songs, just a much needed update in the sound. “Southcross Union”… the now slightly juvenile sounding “Assorted by Satan” that however Peavy delivers with “satanic” conviction (insert evil satanic laughter here), the ahem… speedy “Faster than Hell” that really shows you the Avenger into Rage “conversion” beginning to take form… to the anthemic “Sword Made of Steel” that despite the somewhat dated lyrics, feels strangely alluring still with its basic but primal rhythm. And to conclude the proceedings “Down to the Bone” feels no less urgent or potent than it did 32 summers ago… complete with its whips and its chains… hehe.
I still like the “Devil’s Strike” a tiny bit more, but all around Rage delivers once again. For the twenty third time…