Ever since Victor Smolski has joined the ranks of RAGE as the guitarist, it really seems as though the band could do no wrong. The Victor/Peavey combo is a potent writing and performance due that is hard to match for any band. So when RAGE came out and said that their new album, “Carved In Stone”, was going to be a little bit different than their previous work, I had no fear whatsoever. As long as those two are working together the band can seem to do no wrong.
And I wasn’t disappointed. “Carved In Stone” is different than RAGE’s previous releases but it is still a solid and ferocious album that will please many Metalheads. “Carved In Stone” has RAGE focusing more on the basics of song writing and the root structures of their sound, which is quite different from the last few albums which really played with some more of the extensive instrument work and complex song writing.
Of course, some fans of RAGE are going to be disappointed with the new direction the band is heading. The simpler song writing and the less technical approach to much of the album will make some fans think that the band is selling out. That is far from the truth though. As good as RAGE is with writing more progressive material, “Carved In Stone” proves that the band is just as adapt at working with focused material too.
Musically, as I stated before, Victor has pulled back more of his technical work on the guitar. There seems to be a greater effort on writing catchy riffs and then accenting them instead of writing longer passages. His solos aren’t near as impressive on the album but they fit well with the feeling of “Carved In Stone”. Peavey also seems to be more dedicated to writing this way too as his bass lines don’t stray too far from the basic structures of the album. His vocals are as tight as ever as he roars and wails sing-a-long choruses and thought provoking verses.
As much as I loved Mike Terrana on the drums, RAGE really minimized his departure from the band. New skinsman, André Hilgers, not only fills in Terrana’s shoes but probably fits the feeling of “Carved In Stone” slightly better than Terrana could have. Nothing too complex comes from Hilgers but his presence is noticeable and quite pleasant.
All in all, “Carved In Stone” displays a less epic RAGE but a very fun and enjoyable side that we haven’t seen for a while. This album is so enjoyable and catchy that it’s hard to say that this band is wrong for approaching this path. It may not be their most technical or expressive release but damn its very hard to not hit repeat when the album ends. RAGE really can do no wrong with Peavey and Victor behind the wheel.
Songs to check out: “Carved In Stone”, “Drop Dead”, “Lost In The Void”.
(Online March 23, 2008)