Rage - Seasons of the Black
Nuclear Blast
Heavy Metal

Release year: 2017
Rage, Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Andy
Major event

It's a black era for German heavy metal powerhouse Rage. No, not because they split with the brilliant Victor Smolski, and are running with a less experienced crew (other than Peavy of course). It's because Peavy has a fixation for black. Last year's album, The Devil Strikes Again, had a lyric about minds being blackened a la the Black in Mind era, and now, only one year later, we have Seasons of the Black. The resulting album, like its predecessor, is uninventive, only containing a touch of Smolski's progressivism. And again, some might lose patience with that approach, but those who just want German power/speed metal done right will probably like this one, too.

Despite the band's current lack of appetite for risk, the new lineup is getting noticeably tighter. Guitarist and Rage protege Marcos Rodriguez gets a little more input than he did in the past album, where it felt like Peavy had almost all the input in the songs from top to bottom; here, the band appears more comfortable with each other and with the material, and we get some nice ripping solos, especially on Time Will Tell. The darkness and brutality Peavy Wagner dumps into the tunes made by this lineup has only increased, underscored by his increasingly thick and guttural vocals -- Septic Bite is absolutely crushing, and it's followed by Walk Among the Dead, a fast but melodic piece with a blasting double-kick-filled chorus. No wonder the keyboards have disappeared since Smolski left; under this assault, they'd wither for sure.

It's not perfect. For one thing, Wagner's voice, growing ever lower and more gruff with each album, is getting a bit harder to listen to than it was over the last twenty years, though he can still pull off a surprisingly good vocal range. Also, the songs on Seasons of the Black, especially the two at the end, run a little longer and slower than one expects from Rage. There's nonetheless plenty for non-nitpicky Rage fans to like; if one ignores the few weak mid-tempo songs the band sticks on here, Peavy Wagner's songwriting is still top notch and rarely misses out on a catchy hook or guitar riff where there's the opportunity. As a little extra bonus, there's a second disk with six songs from Rage's Avenger days, re-recorded with the current lineup.

Seasons of the Black continues a trend in Rage towards writing simple heavy metal without any major innovations, a safe, consistent strategy that may eventually get old, but hasn't yet. Rage has reinvented itself many times, so after two Black in Mind-style albums in as many years, perhaps this is going to change again the next time.

Killing Songs :
Septic Bite, Walk Among the Dead, Justify
Andy quoted 82 / 100
Other albums by Rage that we have reviewed:
Rage - The Devil Strikes Again reviewed by Andy and quoted 83 / 100
Rage - 21 reviewed by Chris and quoted 90 / 100
Rage - Trapped! reviewed by Goat and quoted 88 / 100
Rage - Reflections Of A Shadow reviewed by Goat and quoted 88 / 100
Rage - Strings To A Web reviewed by Kyle and quoted 88 / 100
To see all 18 reviews click here
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