Album Review: Rage – Afterlifelines


Album Review: Rage - Afterlifelines
Reviewed by Gareth Pugh

Some things are inevitable, the ebb and flow of the tides, night following day, death and taxation, and for the last 40 years you can guarantee a new Rage album every few years. To mark the special 40th anniversary of this indomitable band, comes a very special release, ‘Afterlifelines’, their 25th, a double album, split into two distinct halves. The first half is an all-out metal assault with just the band; the ever present Peavy Wagner (vocals, bass), Vassilios Maniatopoulos (drums), & Jean Borman (guitars), (unfortunately guitarist Stefan Weber has had to step down for personal reasons, and of course we wish him all the best for the future) while the second half adds full orchestration and other instruments; such as piano, keyboards and wind and percussion instruments, to augment the audio experience into an epic soundscape.

‘Afterlife’ is the title of part one, and after the brief orchestrated ‘In the Beginning’ which segues nicely from haunting strings into the evocative fretboard tapping of first track proper ‘End of Illusions’, this builds with ominous chords into total, full-throttle riff carnage, before a heavy breakdown section and solo. First single ‘Under A Black Crown’ showcases why it was chosen for the job with its super-catchy melodies, singalong chorus, and wall of riffs structure. Part one’s semi-title track ‘Afterlife’ is a full fat groover, with some tricky guitar parts and a hymnal chorus, if you like you metal a bit more rough and ready then ‘Dead Man’s Eyes’ is the one for you with its fierce riffing and pounding rhythms yet throttling back for the chorus, lyrically the album deals with some very serious issues, like man’s involvement in the increasing number of species going extinct, in this case Orangutans. ‘Toxik Waves’ addresses another ecologically concerning subject; that of the increasing number of plastic waste in our oceans.

Album Review: Rage - Afterlifelines

Part two of this epic double is titled ‘Lifelines’ and continues the band’s longtime connection of combining metal tracks and a classical orchestra, the ‘Linga Mortis’ EP was released back in 1996 - that’s three years before S&M. Starting with the second single ‘Cold Desire’, starting with a minor key piano progression, it builds with melancholic strings and a wind section, before bursting into a full-blown metal and orchestra combined mayhem.

The band show their versatility easily switching between the heavy staccato power riffing of ‘It’s All Too Much’ and the fragile ballad that is ‘Dying to Live’, while ‘The Flood’ is a hugely uplifting number, elevated with clean guitars, piano and a truly euphoric orchestra arrangement. The album starts to wind down with the massively ambitious title-track of part two: ‘Lifelines’ which contains a bit of everything, a real rollercoaster one might say, one-minute there’s super heavy riffing, the next an intimate verse, then a progressive bit, the instrumental section comprises some super tight triplet parts and another outstanding solo. ‘Interlude’ is a soothing instrumental, with echoing melodies from the past whilst last song ‘In The End’ starts as a stripped-down ballad that builds into a tremendous crescendo that reflects back on the album as a whole.

This is a fantastic and grandiose way of celebrating 40 years of being active as a band, perhaps some might say a bit self-indulgent, but I think they’ve earned that right. The sound is, as usual, fantastic, modern, yet organic, and Peavy has once more surrounded himself with brilliant musicians that share and express his artistic vision. I doubt this will bring in many new fans into the fold, but for those of us who have been on this journey, this is a magnificent gift, two outstanding albums for the price of one. Here’s to many more years.

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