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“Reflections of a shadow” is the first setback on the discography of a band whose talent didn't seem to reach its roof. This drop on quality is weird in a series of albums with ascendant quality as Rage early albums. I tend to think that probably this album was formed with the dismissed tracks of the previous albums, although there's also this opinion that says Rage would have searched to write more commercial songs for the company, which pretended to give an alternative to the “Keeper of the Seven Keys part II” listeners. Whatever the reason is, the band would for sure have noticed it, and that's why the next album was by far much better than this one.
By the other hand, it's especially common in bands with a huge discography to forget the albums placed on the middle of two generally considered better albums, and both "Secrets in a weird world" and "Trapped!" are by far worth more than this one. But unlike other cases (I think in South of heaven of Slayer), this one has an intrinsic low quality. It's not fair to be considered at the same level than its predecessor. The word that would describe the better it is boring, an odd one for a band which is widely recognized thanks to the catchiness in their music.
However, I will also have good words for the CD. There are a couple of songs that I would rescue and probably include in one of Rage set-lists. The first one is Saddle The Wind, that along with other fast songs are the most remarkable ones, as they sound more like Rage. The other would be That's Human Bondage, the only one of the mid-paced songs that is catchy (probably is because is the opener, but who cares, is good anyway). And if they could somehow cut them like they made with Suicide from Reign of Fear, Wild Seed and Waiting for the moon could be placed among the best songs of this era (because only the main riffs and the choruses are the highlights of both songs). But even so, they wouldn't be able to harmonize with songs of the previous records (this can be applied to almost every song, even Saddle The Wind). That doesn't have changed absolutely is the voice and harmonies of Peavy Wagner: those are still like planned to raise the most depressed person to a state of maximum happiness.
In conclusion, an album that pretended to be the logical follow-up of a mature but fresh album like Secrets on a weird world doesn't achieve its aim and the result is one of the most boring albums in Rage discography. Rage knew that the formula was not going to give them the success they ever wanted, and they would think that it would be better to get back some elements of their music showed in the first three albums when recording Trapped. And it worked for sure.
This is probably Rage's most accessible album. They had been under pressure to create a commercially successful album by Noise Records, and came up with something that sounded like Perfect Man mixed with Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II.
The songs, for the most part, work. They finally manage to write long songs that don't get boring - managing to figure out that six or seven minutes is enough. There's also a few speed metal numbers here to round things out.
Highlights: "That's Human Bondage" opens the album - midpaced but generally heavy. "Can't Get Out", "Saddle the Wind", and "Nobody Knows" are the speed metal songs, and both are done very well. The rest is also pretty good, including the ballad "Flowers that Fade in my Hand", which is the longest track here. "True Face of Everyone" has a very memorable chorus that's typical of Rage.
There are two bonus tracks on some rerelease that I have never heard. So don't ask me about them. This album definitely is one of Rage's best, and is highly recommended.