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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