|Review: Rage - Ghosts|
Label: Gun Records
Year released: 1999
Genre: Symphonic Metal
Review online: April 24, 2009
Reviewed by: Larry Griffin
Rage have been around a long time, and they have done a lot of strange things. And why shouldn't they have? Not every band has to stick strictly to their guns. I think we should welcome more changes in style for bands like this - I mean look at it, these guys have played Speed Metal, Power Metal, Traditional Heavy Metal and even Symphonic Metal, which is the predominant style featured on their most unique outing to date entitled Ghosts.
The style here is predominantly Power Metal reminiscent of Blind Guardian or mid-era Stratovarius...if you mixed that in with heavy synthesizers and orchestrations that are integrated so well into the songwriting that you don't even notice sometimes. The vocals, handled by the ever-prolific Peavy Wagner, are still a gruff, tuneful shout, although here he uses his quite nice melodic singing voice most of the time. This whole album is just meticulously constructed, with every song sounding like Peavy and his motley crew put their heart and soul into writing it. They're all very dynamic and fluid, with even the more straightforward and pop-oriented songs sounding 110% authentic and energetic. There's nothing here that really stands out as amazing or spectacular, but every song is very well done and definitely an exercise in metallic creativity that the Power Metal world is quite devoid of these days.
Every song either has a catchy hook or a gold-mine of musical ideas. This sort of variation makes for an album that is easy to listen to all the way through, as it has enough to please both those looking for dark, musical progressivism and also those looking for catchy indulgence. The opening bombast of "Beginning of the End" rocks out with cool lyrics and a big chorus, and it's a misleading title, as this song is actually more like the beginning of good ideas and enjoyable songwriting. "Back in Time" is a more traditional Power Metal number with a speedy tempo and a big shooting star of a chorus that streaks across the sky and leaves a great trail of flame behind it. "Fear" and "Ghosts" are slower, more atmospheric numbers, and while they might not be quite as good as the faster stuff, they're still very good themselves, with a delicacy to them that you probably didn't expect to hear on a Rage album. I mean, it's not like Rage know how to do anything but bash out "Don't Fear the Winter" and "Insanity," right? Fuck no.
"Wash My Sins Away" is fast, catchy and bouncy, and so is "Love and Fear Unite," and I really enjoy these songs. Do you like melodic Power Metal? You will like this. "Vanished in Haze" isn't very good, with a dragging chorus that I just don't like much, but "Spiritual Awakening" kicks things up again with a classic Rage stomp, and "Love After Death" continues this. "More than a Lifetime" and "Tomorrow's Yesterday" end things in fine fashion; warm and intricate Symphonic Metal numbers with class and style to spare. Even bonus track "End of Eternity" is pretty decent, with some good musical ideas and another huge chorus.
Is later era Savatage not doing anything for you? Do you dislike shitty Nightwish songs and boring Epica albums? Well, then, I have a solution for you, and its name is Ghosts. Catchy, upbeat, stirring, original and well written, this was one of Rage's finest hours. Get it now.
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