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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.