Can RAGE really do all that wrong lately? Even when the band experiments they seem to mostly succeed, see “Speak Of The Dead”, and when the band reverts to their more Power/Thrash roots they really strike a chord, see “Carved In Stone”. It’s as if the band really can’t do a whole lot wrong. That’s why it’s fairly easy to know what you are going to get on a new album. It’s consistency and strength of writing that makes RAGE one of the greatest underground bands of all time. That includes their latest album “Strings To A Web”.
“Strings To A Web” is going to follow that strong Power Metal roots with speed bursts of Thrash like the band has done for pretty much their entire career. Like with “Speak Of The Dead” though, this latest record does a bit of experimenting with the orchestral movements that the band likes to dabble in every once in a while. It may not be as strong as the previously mentioned album, but the band still manages to make classic Heavy Metal sound effortless in their writing and playing and making most tracks instantly memorable.
“Strings To A Web” is built in two ways. The orchestral movements under the guise of “Empty Hollow” consume a good portion of the gut of this album. With five solid tracks dedicated to this connected and winding song (it is split into separate names and tracks for each movement starting at five and ending with nine) it’s somewhat sad to find that it’s one of the weaker orchestral pieces the band has crafted. It starts off solid but falters under some of its own weight until we hit the final reprise. Its good, but we’ve heard RAGE do it better than this.
Of course, then there is the other type of song that comprises the rest of “Strings To A Web”. That being classic RAGE song structures and style. Even though this isn’t near as high quality as say the last album was in this style with songs like “Hellgirl” or “The Beggar’s Last Dime” being good songs but paling to some of the other work even on the album. When the band wants to they slay their catchy melodies and heavy riffs, combining the seriously sick guitar work of Smolski and the catchy yet completely original baritone singing from Peavy. Songs like “Into The Light” and “Saviour Of The Dead” are bound to be classics in the band’s catalog.
“Strings To A Web” isn’t quite as high quality as one comes to expect form the stellar RAGE, but its still a strong album that fans are going to come to love. It does take a bit to grow on you, but give it a few spins and I’m sure you will grow to love it to. If you like what RAGE has been in the last decade or so then this will please your ears.
Songs to check out: “Into The Light”, “Saviour Of The Dead”, “The Edge Of Darkness”.
(Online October 30, 2010)