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Rage: Underwhelming while in transition. - 66%

AnalogKid, July 14th, 2012

Rage has some ADD tendencies: every third album or so they seem to lose a bit of focus, resulting in something that’s just not quite top shelf material. After very good albums in Ghosts and Welcome To The Other Side, and preceding the mighty duo of Soundchaser and the symphonic Speak Of The Dead, lies the simply titled Unity. Despite being the album after the changing of Peavy’s guard, I would say that Unity is a much better example of the modern incarnation of the band than Welcome To The Other Side was. More riff-driven and less ambitious than its rather gigantic predecessor, Unity is, by and large, Rage as they would be for the coming decade.

I’m all but certain that this is due to the newfound creative input of Mr. Victor Smolski. Whereas Welcome To The Other Side was a bit of a unique transition album, Unity sees Smolski cut loose with his signature riffing for the first time. While I can’t be sure, I would guess that he had more creative input into this album, and driving compositions like openers “All I Want” and “Insanity” are indicative of much of what is to come.

Strange then, that this album coinsides one of Peavy’s less creative lyrical and thematic streaks while simultaneously introducing Smolski’s heavy hand. If it weren’t for a new guitarist, it is possible that Unity could be seen as a rather stale album. As it is, however, redundant (“Dies Irae”) or downright dumb tracks (“Down”) are generally saved by Smolski’s treatment of Peavy’s musical compositions as a virtual guitar playground. In the depths of the album, the punchy “Seven Deadly Sins” and “Unity”, a terrific and rare instrumental, make the second half of the album at least as strong as the first, and definitely more varied.

Of course, the credit is undoubtedly not all to be heaped upon Smolski. I feel Mike Terrana’s drumwork with Rage to be both an improvement and an increasingly powerful force in their overall sound. Peavy himself continues to evolve as a singer. While he always boasted a rather unique edge to his voice, the production on Unity makes it stand out even further. Perhaps he changed his delivery a bit as well, because the difference between this and Welcome To The Other Side is regularly noticeable, and the more aggressive style of songs means that his trademark growl is featured more and more often.

It may seem weaker than many of the band’s efforts, and when listening to later albums, the casual listener may feel that the band hasn’t evolved at all since this point, but as Peavy keeps screaming, “All I want is my own integrity!” Well, on Unity, he’s certainly got it. From this point onwards, no one will ever mistake Rage for another band again.

Original review written for Black Wind Metal

Heavy Ass Power Metal. With Balls - 83%

CannibalCorpse, November 27th, 2007

I've just recently discovered this severely underrated band called "Rage", due to my lack of power/traditional metal fondness. Well, I should smack my forehead again, like I did when I first heard this band's great album "Soundchaser". After listening to said album, I decided to go further back into this band's discography and got "Unity". Quite a few people were saying that "Unity" was a superior album to "Soundchaser" and declared the latter to be a weaker continuation of the former - well, I can't quite agree with that.

"Unity" is an album filled with hooks and pure catchiness, the only thing I'm a bit missing here is the pure aggression and heaviness which I found in later Rage songs. Now don't get me wrong here, the soaring leads of guitar master Smolski are absolutely captivating and the riffs are definitely well written, but I don't quite get the feeling I get when I listen to later songs like "War of Worlds". Long story cut short: I don't get my skull bashed in. Frankly, there are exceptions (Down, Living My Dream, Seven Deadly Sins) and those really do the trick. This is not a major problem though.

The album is also chock-full of soaring vocal lines, courtesy of Peavy Wagner who's about the best power/traditional metal singer I've heard so far. Sure, Halford is classic and technically great, but Peavy's voice is just instantly pleasing to the ear and he doesn't overdo the falsettos (in fact, he rarely uses them, which is a plus to my ears - it wouldn't fit into Rage's sound). No matter if he sings balladesque section or spits venomous, almost growled lines, it's always perfectly fitting.

I do have to dedicate one paragraph to Victor Smolski's amazing guitar skills. This man knows his guitar and especially his smoking leads are absolutely fantastic. Neo-classical influences everywhere, high-speed shredding, sweeping, etc. and he does it all without the Malmsteen-Wank-Syndrome. He definitely knows how to employ beautiful melodies into the shred. An incredibly gifted player.

As expected, the rest of band themselves are also incredibly skilled musicians. It's all more than just spot on, but with a line-up like the one present on here, this really is no surprise. So if you like your heavy metal with BIG balls then I see no reason for not getting "Unity", even if I'd advise you to obtain "Soundchaser first".

So even if I like the songs on "Soundchaser" more, you really can't go wrong with this.

Rage's Return To Form... Almost - 83%

NecroWraith, August 15th, 2007

In the past couple years, Rage seems to have gotten a lot more popular with power metal enthusiasts. They're listed right up there with the top power metal bands like Helloween, Blind Guardian, and Gamma Ray. I tend to disagree. Rage may be an alright band, but to me they'll always remain that second-rate power metal band that couldn't ever make it at the top. "Unity" is one of their better releases.

The album starts out VERY well. Probably the best part of the album are the choruses. Very well done. Almost all are memorable and unforgettable, incredibly catchy, and fit in with the rest of the song amazingly. Really superb songwriting. The vocals are well done as well, and as for the rest of the instruments...

Bass is probably the second strongest part of the album. Nice bass lines, constant and well written. Guitars and percussion, nothing too spectacular, but I'm not complaining. A bit repetitive, I have to admit. But I'm willing to let that go.

Then we reach the second half of the album. What happened here?! The first five tracks were great, but the next ones are fillers of the worst kind. Boring and unoriginal. Completely uninspired. Come on Rage! You could've put in a bit more effort and wrote the second half as well as the second. Seems like someone was rushing to get the album done and released as soon as possible.

Overall, the album is not bad. I'd get this album only if you could find it below $10 for the first half - the second part is really not worth it. Sorry Rage.

-Marcin C.

The sound of a band united - 90%

Empyreal, May 17th, 2007

Ah, Rage, back when they were still on top of their game and cranking out big, crunchy epics like this one. Unity was their second album with what Peavy has so affectionately dubbed his "dream team," and while it's probably the weakest out of the opening triad that this promising lineup churned out (Welcome to the Other Side and Soundchaser being the other two), it's certainly a very good album in its own right.

The Rage formula for the modern day had already been set in stone here: dark Power Metal with Peavy Wagner's gritty, charismatic sneer layered over a wall of molten steel riffs, sizzling, razor-sharp basslines and Mike Terrana's punishing performance from behind the drumkit. Victor Smolski shines here on all guitar duties, pumping out fistfuls of killer riffs and shimmering, ultra melodic leads for every track - he does everything from neoclassical shredding to heavy, stomping groove riffs, and just about everything in between. While the songwriting might not be picture perfect, with a few tracks coming off as less inspired (even only slightly). it is of a high quality throughout, never becoming stale or generic in any sense of the word. The guitar tone is really cool, having a sort of mechanical, frigid texture to it that, while being rather hard to describe in words, exudes a completely and totally METAL sort of feeling that (when combined with the crunchy riffs here) will get your head flailing in no time to slabs of steel like "Insanity," "Down" and the epochal "Dies Irae," with its humongous choirs backing the hymn-wide chorus.

Rage's strong point, though, lies in Peavy's vocals. Nowhere on this album will you find a generic Power Metal chorus or an uninspired vocal line, as Peavy Wagner has come a long way from his Speed Metal wailing on the early discs. His voice is of a lower register now, and he just fucking BELTS out the lyrics with this ironclad conviction to his voice, always challenging the music to keep up with his maniacal, frantic energy, and always putting the "Power" back in "Power Metal." The way he sings is just awesome as well, and the vocal lines here are only aided by his thick, rich German accent, adding to the infectiously catchy nature of most of the choruses and even the verses on Unity. He never resorts to simple vocal melodies, and his dynamic vocal performance is half of the reason why this is so damned good.

While the songwriting here wasn't as tight and focused as on Welcome to the Other Side or Soundchaser, it is still of a very high quality, and the band is musically unbeatable here, just playing their hearts out for a solid hour and churning out some excellent Metal for anyone even remotely interested in this sort of music. Unity is far from perfect, and it often feels a bit disjointed, but it really, honestly rocks without any semblance of pretension, and for that I enjoy it greatly.

Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com
(updated 3-3-08)

The Creation of A legendary Lineup - 85%

BoomStick, December 10th, 2004

The legendary lineup of rage comes together to create a powerful, quick paced and unforgettable album. Being the first Rage album that I heard I enjoyed it greatly from the moment I placed it in the CD player. The songs all seem to flow nicely, and you can tell that when rage wrote these songs they did not struggle one bit. Unity album is what I like to call a simple album; you get bands like “Iron Maiden” and “Children of Bodom,” who have 5-6 band members in them at any given time. Rage while recording Unity has half that many members, so the sound is clean and simple. You got your bass, drums, and lead; not three leads, keyboardist, a separate vocalist and all other hell to crowd up a song (not saying that Iron Maiden, and COB are at all bad).

Uncharacteristic of most bands is how Rage’s bassist and long time member Peavy also does vocals, which seems to work well for them as he sings excellent on this album. On past Rage albums like, “Black in Mind,” I have noticed some of the choruses are rather lame sounding and I don’t think that Peavy sings them very well. However on Unity there are no bad choruses and the vocals are all sung well. Peavy also does his other job of bands bassist very well.

The renowned Victor Smolski, is incredible on this album…from keeping perfect timing with heavy sounding rhythm guitar parts, to smoking solo’s that most of us only dream of being able to play, Victor plays the whole able flawlessly.

The also renowned Mike Terrana delivers steady drumming keeping perfect timing throughout all of the songs. During the title track, “Unity,” Mike gets a chance to prove why he is part of a Godly band like Rage as he does an amazing drum solo that makes many people think his is a drum machine.

The songs on the album for the most part are incredible. “All I want,” has a strong drum line and good riffs which combine with an unforgettable chorus that is sung by Peavy perfectly. The track “Insanity,” has a powerful opening riff which is followed by a haunting next section that has creepy vocals about some guy killing his family because he has nothing left to live for. The chorus once again is very memorable; then more disturbing lyrics about a women who commits suicide by jumping off a building and smashing her face on the ground.

“Down” is the best track on the album, with once again very good vocals and singing. The chorus is sung well, especially with the guitar and bass lines, which follow some odd timing during the main chorus. Just following the chorus, the odd timing gets directly back into a steady flow, and the vocals, “I've got my shit together, It's working well, Don't need permission for my deeds,” follows the riff so well.

“Set this world on Fire,” begins with a slow intro, but quickly builds into a well created distorted section. “Dies Irae” is another highlight on the album, adding some choral singing of the chorus works very well. The song is powerful and quick paced witch basically explains why Rage is a, “Power” and “Speed” metal combined.

The next 5 songs on the album are all good, they don’t stand out as being anything specially; but they all got catchy riffs and good beats.

The last song, “Unity,” is instrumental, which basically sums up the entire album. With fast rhythm guitar, amazing solos and even a brilliantly done drum solo, this song has something for everyone.

This Rage album has the sound of new Rage, not like the old “Reflections Of A Shadow,” and “Trapped,” era. The sound is similar to, “To Black in mind” and anything since. This album is well worth the money (and if you haven’t seen the video for “Down” it comes with the album special addition, which is quite a good video clip, including mud wrestling and Heaven on fire.)

Forceful and raging - 89%

StillDeath, June 5th, 2004

What can compare to opening a blind purchase, and listening to first seconds to be greeted by a thunderstorm of aggressive pure 80’s (is there an other kind) metal? It is a relief and joy at once, a treasured moment. I am not familiar with the other Rage albums, but after listening to Unity, that will be fixed shortly. Here I can hear traditional, power, thrash and neo-classical elements all melted into a new element which delivers the good and then some. Aggressive and melodic? Sing-along? Neck wrecking? These terms get thrown around nowadays a lot by bands and fans who only heard of such a beast, not sure if such a thing is truly possible. I am naming Rage – Unity as the incarnation of said beast. Tarot’s Suffer Our Pleasures is also a contender, and the two albums share a similar sound somewhat. What’s more impressive is that Rage accomplished that with only three hard-working musicians.

The album starts off with “All I want” and you will be smiling by the time the track is through. It starts off with a march drum beat and a riff that would be similar to early 80’s thrash such as Kill’em All and then in come the vocals. Wagner’s vocal style is very forceful and harsh. So forceful that sometimes it felt like someone is shoving a big black dildo in my ears. Soon enough I did get used to them and now I can see that if the vocals were softer they would be overpowered by Rage’s destructive music. The opener has a sing-along chorus, hell everything here does. The choruses and backing vocals are straight out of Helloween textbook. They come in at the right time and stay long enough to make a lasting impression. The structure of the songs is built on solid riffs with occasional neo-classical shredding thrown in by Victor Smolski to add spice.

Unity is also diverse. There are power metal acts that have the skill and the aggression and song writing like Persuader, but still missing the masterpiece status due to their songs being too similar. The track Dies Irae here illustrates the point of integrating various musical elements, in this case a female classical choir doing the chorus, to achieve a contrast and epic sound to make the lyrics of world ending grimly convincing. My favourite track here is You want it, You’ll get it. The melody and the chorus is one that HammerFall would kill for. All that on top of headbanging riffs combined with neo-classical breaks with no sign of anything being out of place or overly lightweight. One of the best metal songs ever.

Unity is interesting and forceful, old school and fresh, this kind of quality is a rare find.