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Album Reviews : Rage – Seasons of the Black

By on July 28, 2017

Frontman, vocalist and bassist Peter ‘Peavy’ Wagner has done many things right throughout his long career, he is one affable bloke who has survived many line-up changes and shifts in the publics preference for genres of metal.   

How has he survived for so long then? I’d suggest the answer lies in his ability to attract excellent musicians that can support and recognise his musical vision, a vision that is well over 20 official releases deep and has its origins in the mid-eighties.  

After a cursory listen to the bands output post millennium on Apple Music, Wagner and crew offer more of the same on Seasons of the Black. Could you describe this music as power metal? Maybe. Rather than allocate a firm descriptor, the music feels like it contains the essence of old fashioned heavy metal produced in the modern age, similar to metal in the vein of Judas Priest’s seriously overlooked Tim “Ripper” Owens fronted album, Jugulator (’97).  

Wagner has a tremendous voice. He dominates Seasons of the Black as much as a jovial uncle laughs and jests their way through alcoholic beverages and mounds of beef and pork at a family event. It is rather odd to hear how his voice has evolved since the melodically challenged vocal stylings he offered earlier in the bands career (see Execution Guaranteed– ‘89). His voice is far better suited to the 2017 version the band’s music than at any time in the bands history.  

Seasons of the Black is Marcos Rodriguez’s second appointment as the guitarist on a Rage album. Previous guitarist, Victor Smolski left rather large boots to fill as he set the narrative for Rage’s guitar sound since 2001’s Welcome to the Other Side. Rodriguez wisely keeps in step with Smolski’s heavier guitar tone. I particularly like the weight of Rodriguez’s guitar playing on the cut “Septic Bite”. Metallica’s post ‘Justice… guitar tone could seriously use a dose of the six-string sound contained across Seasons of the Black.

Vassilios “Lucky” Maniatopoulos also joins Rodriguez through his second appearance on a Rage recording. A one-time student of former Rage drummer Spiros Efthimiadis, there is no doubt he understands the rhythm Wagner’s bass playing requires keeping in lock-step.

The bands often-overlooked contribution to metal is through Wagner’s understanding of the role orchestration and traditional instruments play when paired to the Rage musical format. When I was given the opportunity to talk to Wagner about his career and Seasons of the Black, I issued a sincere compliment to him regarding his approach to integrating the disparate sounds as pioneered on the album Lingua Mortis (’96). This album was released three full years prior to Ulrich and co. unleashing the virtually unlistenable, S&M (’99); a fact not lost on Wagner.  

I for one, would love to hear how the marriage of orchestration and the dense heavy metal stylings of the cuts contained on Seasons of the Black would sound. In many ways, the end result would complete many, for example; “Time Will Tell” and “All We Know is Not”. Both “Gaia” and “Farewell” would become titans if accompanied by orchestration.  

A very solid release that contains a sound to please existing fans. There isn’t anything on Seasons of the Black that could be called innovative or ground breaking and it may be a track or two too long, but Wagner knows how to craft a tune and the album sounds great in the car and through low-quality speakers. It has been mixed and mastered very well.  

If you like the recent efforts from Accept and enjoy Blind Guardian, Edguy and Helloween, then Seasons of the Black will suit your tastes.

Rage – Seasons of the Black  

Label: Nuclear Blast

Band page: http://www.rage-official.com

About

Andrew is a musician who has spent many years performing on the stages of the pubs and clubs of QLD. A devotee of the broad church that is rock, punk, funk, jazz and of course all genres of metal... he now shares his enthusiasm via a burgeoning pursuit of music journalism. Follow him on twitter @i_c_e_man