After 28 long years, Rage still delivers. “21”, which, incidentally , is their twenty-first album, is hella sweet! The disk drops February 24 on Nuclear Blast GmbH. This talented trio consists of Peter Wagner on bass and vocals, Victor Smolski on guitar, and Andre Hilgers on drums. “21” has a distinctly European feel to it in riffage and tone.
The title track ’21’ is part metal anthem part head-banging happiness. The song opens with a creepy Alice Cooper type macabre feel but degenerates into an Andre Hilgers love fest. His drumming is amazing and he is on fire with this track. Much of the album seems to showcase Hilgers‘s drumming and he doesn’t disappoint. Another stand out track is ‘Forever Dead’. The song is a perfect soundtrack for your Xbox 360 and worthy of being cranked up during play on Burn Out or Need for Speed.
Victor Smolski‘s guitar playing is furious and fast paced. Peter Wagner‘s vocals are killer. ‘Feel My Pain’ is a retro 90s style metal song complete with cowbell. #winning! It’s very much pop-metal, but done in a good way. My favourite song on the album is definitely ‘Psycho Terror‘. The song has a mad groove. The guitar is wicked and Smolksi‘s work along with Hilgar‘s drumming is top notch. Psycho Terror is the most “modern” sounding song on the album. There is even a mini drum solo with bass undercurrents near the end. It isn’t an indulgence as this and the actual ending to the song is a stroke of pure musical genius.
Rage serves up more European influenced compositions with ‘Destiny’. It sounds like music and songs you like. There is an old Halloween influence in pacing and tone. Here and there you can hear the last three Iron Maiden albums in the riff department. “21” closes with a power ballad. Before you groan and roll your eyes, give it a listen. ‘Eternally’ sucks you in with this amazing aural grinding that is just behind the beat and then descends into an ethereal sentimental tune. Peter Wagner‘s vocals are strong, deep, and rich. He exhibits amazing control in his pitch. If you are a fan of Rage, you will love this album. If you aren’t a fan of Rage, buy this album and become one. There is something on “21” for everyone and you will go away satisfied.