|Review: Rage - Seasons of the Black|
|Seasons of the Black|
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Year released: 2017
Genre: Heavy/Power Metal
Review online: August 8, 2017
Reviewed by: Bruno Medeiros
for:Seasons of the Black
Before the Devil Strikes Again was released, Peavy Wagner stated that he wanted to rescue that 1990s vibe so beloved by us fans with more speed and power than before, but the album – albeit actually having a glimpse or two of Rage's golden era – came out as somewhat lackluster for the hardcore listener (let me get something out of the way: I am a REALLY hardcore Rage fan. I own every album, almost every EP, have been to eight Rage concerts and I have the album cover of Soundchaser tattooed on my left arm, so believe me, I know what the fuck I'm talking about). This time around, though, I can safely say that Seasons of the Black could – heresy apart – be called "End of All Days Part II".
The title track starts out with a small chaotic intro and bursts into a ripping riff that tears your ears apart. The chorus borrows from the catchy and sticky side of Peavy's songwriting abilities to form a really cool sing-along part, while the drum stays consistent and Marcos does a wonderful job with the lone guitar work. "Serpents in Disguise" continues the assault reminiscent to End of All Days' "Let the Night Begin" in the lead guitars, while offering a similar experience in the chorus, with competent backing vocals and melodic lines.
"Blackened Karma" makes things a little bit heavier and slower with chugging riffs and a surprisingly good performance by Peavy in the chorus; for a 52-year-old bassist whose vocal ability is not his best quality, the guy really delivers with some high-pitched screams and ever-melodic passages. "Time Will Tell" yet again reminds us of some select parts of Rage's 1996 classic album and offers an awesome mid-tempo, upbeat track that's easily likeable and – truth be told – is the best song to get nostalgia chills from.
Another nostalgic experience comes with "Septic Bite". Marcos's riffs and playing style on this one is almost identical to what Manni Schmidt masterfully does on The Missing Link, with crunchy and powerful leads and great support by Peavy's bass lines. "Walk Among the Dead", despite being yet another good effort, doesn't quite hook the listener like it is supposed to. The melodies are there, the lyrics are fine and the execution is good, but it feels like something's missing on this one. "All We Know is Not" suffers from the same problems as the last one, but being a little more melodic, it could grab some fans by the balls and become more acceptable, but I don't know.
The four remaining tracks are part of "The Tragedy of Man" suite. "Gaia" begins with a soothing, beautiful acoustic guitar intro accompanied by some nature sounds and Peavy singing in ballad-like tone, and when "Justify" begins it feels somewhat disconnected from this intro, but stabilizes into a cool and laid-back atmosphere. Allying melody with groove, Peavy, Marco and Vassilios manage to strike gold again and achieve an aura not seen since Welcome to the Other Side by being sorrowful, yet fun and relatable. "Bloodshed in Paradise" comes next and borrows yet again from the more epic parts of the band's discography. With some changes of pace and decent verses, the song doesn't quite reach the high level of quality of its predecessor, but holds it well in the whole concept. "Farewell" fittingly ends the suite and the album; being the only track that uses symphonic elements, the association with Speak of the Dead and XIII is inevitable. It's the slowest song and it externalizes the message of its lyrics well, but could have been better constructed.
So, what do I, a hardcore and longtime Rage fan, think of Seasons of the Black? As a reviewer, I think this is an improvement from the band's previous entry and a good album overall, while my fan side is happy to see that Peavy is achieving his goals, music-wise, of rescuing Rage's golden era more so than ever, thanks (in a substantial way) to Marco's veneration of those works, which translates in his playing. Filled with nostalgia and fan-service, the trio is on the right track once again and delivered a pleasing and approachable album for fans and casual listeners alike. Rage on!
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