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Simple but nice German speed metal - 85%

DesecratorJ, July 12th, 2017
Written based on this version: 1995, CD, Victor (Reissue, Japan)

Avenger, the forgotten past of Rage for most of their listeners... Is this a good thing? Well, yes and no because a lot of fans are more into their newer stuff, and the early stuff of Rage is a total different musical approach. One thing for sure, the adepts of early Rage stuff will like this one, and maybe even more. I obviously discovered Rage in the first place, and I didn't know that they had another band before. As a person who liked albums like "Reign of Fear" and "Execution Guaranteed", I was quite surprised to find out that the guys from Rage did another album before those ones, and this was early in the development of the German metal scene. The "Prayers of Steel" album was recorded back in 1984 and released in 1985, when most German bands were starting out, making it one of the first release of that scene. This doesn't mean that the album is unique though, let's see why...

The main reason why this album doesn't seem to be remembered by people, is because of its unoriginality and unknown status. Useless to mention how many bands were doing this kind of stuff back in 1985. You can tell that the album doesn't bring much on the table, this is largely true in some way, but the music featured on this album is pretty nice I may say. We have also a good amount of songs, especially with the 1995 re-release on CD, which features the "Depraved to Black" EP. The album contains 10 songs and 4 bonus tracks, in which two of these are from a live recording of '85, totaling nearly an hour of material. If you want a general overview of their musical style, this is much like in the veins of other German speed metal bands early stuff. We are citing acts like Running Wild, Atlain or Grave Digger, but despite being an not so memorable record, "Prayers of Steel" have quite a lot of enjoyable musical variety.

Having said that, the album kick-off in a pretty good mood with "Battlefield", which is a classic speed metal song with great riffs and a catchy chorus. This kind of intro to an album gives more motivation to keep on listening to it and hear the following tracks. "Southcross Union", the second song, isn't as good and doesn't add and bring something valuable to the album. I mean, the song is cool at casual listen, but easily skippable. Other tracks such as the self-titled and "Sword Made of Steel" are more oriented with melodic passages, but at the cost of having less interesting riffs if you ask me. However, it's pretty easy to assume that the best songs on the album are those with the speed metal feeling, mainly because the problem with the longer tracks is that they have a lack of riffs, and the structures fail to make them memorable. Although the band showed some promising talent out there, songs like "Adoration", "Assorted by Satan", or "Faster than Hell" are exactly what you are looking for on such album. They contain every aspect needed to bang your head, fast-paced riffs, "speedy" drum beats, guitar solos and catchy words sang by the band's leader, Peavy. His vocals are basically the kind of voice you would like on this sort of record, he got a pretty good and unique tone of voice with the ability of high screams, which fits perfectly for the album.

The production work for "Prayers of Steel" is really good, especially for a record made in the first half of the 80's. I really like the sound of the drum snare, it feels so clean and well-arranged. All instruments are greatly mixed, which is a special and impressive point for a low budget made 80's German speed metal album. I can't tell the same thing for the songs from the EP "Depraved to Black" though. These ones sounds less polished and raw, but they are also the most heaviest ones of the whole record, which is a good thing, in my opinion. The sound quality is usually not much of an issue when you are used to 80's speed metal. The lyrical content is probably the worst thing on this album. Despite having some catchy songs and words, there's nothing valuable on this side. Even the band didn't took them serious, and it's pretty obvious to notice that aswell. It's basically joking while singing Satan's sort of stuff... At least the guys will write stuff that will make more sense for Rage albums.

Well, this is not an incredible release of the German metal scene, but it's still worth a listen. Fans of heavy and speed metal will surely find something of good value on this record. If you already listened to the early stuff of Rage, then you must give this one a shot. I personally come back from time to time to listen to it again, and it's still really enjoyable for me. Put yourself in the right mood and give this album a go, it's a well worthy time spent.

Best tracks :

Assorted by Satan
Depraved to Black
Faster than Hell

Raging at the speed of adequate. - 70%

Diamhea, October 4th, 2014

Hey, for '85 you can certainly do a whole lot worse than Prayers of Steel, the only full-length and real output of any degree of note from this largely forgotten pre-Rage permutation. While many will instinctively stack this against Wagner's present heavy metal institution (and rightfully so), a logical continuation can be drawn to the earliest throes of Rage itself, if for anything due to the presence of original axe-slingers Schröder and Meyerratken. There is a clear stylistic bifurcation evident after Execution Guaranteed, primarily thanks to Manni Schmidt's venerable chops. Comparatively, the material with Schröder (including this) is less exultant and hook-driven, instead pushing a more Judas Priest-inspired, clinical breed of speed metal.

In the end, this stacks up fairly respectably next to the debuts of both Running Wild and Grave Digger, which means it can be either raucously fun or a real cringe-inducer depending on the track. Deficiencies revolving around a lack of chops loom large over Wagner's vocal delivery, but I sense a great deal of conviction in his effort here, which is in the end worth a cursory glance from a historical perspective. Really, you have two types of tracks here, the spastic and perfunctory three-minute speedsters, and the more drawn-out, fist raisers that try and summon something of a more soaring, triumphant and epic slant. By and large, Avenger have no qualms about letting the armor piercing rounds fly on numbers like "Battlefield, "Faster Than Hell," and "Adoration," which are vile, grimy German speed metal delivered in a by-the-numbers yet ultimately endearing way.

Others like "Southcross Union" are more drop-down and drag-out in their punishing allure, but are in the end rather forgettable. I respect Schröder's delivery here, but he struggles coming up with consistent and memorable hooks. These deficiencies are set in stone on plodding snoozers like the title track and "Sword Made of Steel," which try broadening the scope and churning the atmospheric cauldron by virtue of patently ludicrous lyrics, but crumble apart due to meager vocal lines and a lack of variety in the riffs. Wagner will occasionally let out a ricocheting wail like the operatic interval that salvages the end of "Southcross Union," but in the end I find myself coming back to this for the endearing ambiance and throwback appeal more than the individual performances themselves.

My favorite track is easily "Adoration," which sounds majestic as all get out opening up and largely delivers for the remainder of the duration. I also find no concern in stacking three or four of these numbers up against the comparative fare from Reign of Fear, which obviously means that fans of early Rage should give Prayers of Steel a cursory listen on these grounds alone. The lyrics may kill it for some people, what with yammering about sharpening swords and evoking The Evil One, so the expected evolution that birthed the broad conceptual spectrum of Rage can be traced all of the way back to these relatively humble origins. This all said, I can definitely recommend this to to fans of the early '80s German scene, a scene so massive it is easy to forget where many of the genre stalwarts began at. Crank Prayers of Steel during this upcoming Halloween, you just might dig it.

A solid debut - 84%

mak28, December 24th, 2004

I searched for this album long and hard and paid a pretty pennie for it too. Thankfully, it was worth it.

As a big time Rage fan I was excited to hear this album and yet I didn't hold my expectations too high. After all, it was their debut and Rage's "Reign of Fear" was a pretty balls out no frills kick in the pants where if it wasn't done so well it may have sucked. I thought maybe this would turn out to be a crappier "Reign of Fear." To my surprise this turns out to be much more melodic and very well done. Yes, it is simple 80's power/traditional metal but the songwriting is quite good.

The album kicks off with Battlefield and really puts you in the mood for good times. It's a great speedy number with Peavey's vocals belting out the chorus in fine fashion. South Cross Union follows it very nicely with a great NWOBHM style riff and super catchy chorus. "South Cross Union coming straight from Hell!" Yeah! From there the album trucks on with the title track. The main riff is nothing amazing but it's cool and the chorus is catchy and fun with it's cheeseball satanic lyrics. "Give me Evil! Give Me Power! Give me Prayers of Steel!" :lol It also comes with a nice surprise as it busts into a great galloping riff in the middle and ends up really kicking ass. Two more great tracks, Halloween and the upbeat Faster Than Hell, transition nicely into number six, Adoration, which is definitely a highlight as at rips like the best songs of Rage's early years. The chorus kicks ass and you gotta love the pure 80s scream from Peavey after the solo! Great stuff. Rise of The Creature continues with the high standard set so far with another solid chorus but track eight, Sword Made of Steel, turns out to be the only stinker in the bunch. Bloodlust brings us right back to the NWOBHM sound with it's Running Free style bass and drum opening. It's a cool song but it's followed by one of the best Rage/Avenger songs in existence, Assorted by Satan! A great way to close an album, this song is awesome! It's no wonder Peavey would use the main riff and verse melody as inspiration for the future Rage track Firestorm. If you ask me though the track is best left in orginal form as Assorted By Satan is faster and has a superior chorus.

Overall it's a great album and is just about as good as any of the early Rage material, which is saying something. It's definitely better than Execution Gauranteed, which is in similar style, that is for certain. So, it may not be as original as such stellar albums as Perfect Man or Secrets in a Weird World but the great songwriting is still there. Peavy's vocals are actually more controlled here than those early Rage albums too so if that bothered you on those it won't here. Coming along with the Ep Depraved to Black this version comes with two more excellent studio tracks and live versions of Prayers of Steel and Faster Than Hell. Great stuff if you ask me.

Despite all the praise, this still won't be worthy of purchase for most people. It's something for the fans who are willing to part with the cash needed to get a copy because they can be quite expensive. If you can find it for cheap though or are a big Rage fan I'd suggest you pick it up.

Zzzzzzzz - 44%

UltraBoris, January 10th, 2003

Well, they sure got a lot better than this by the time they became RAGE. This is pretty badly done German classic heavy metal. Imagine a far crappier Grave Digger debut. More abstractly, imagine slowing down a speed metal riff until it becomes a really generic and boring heavy metal riff. That's what this album is filled with.

Highlights... well, the faster songs are pretty decent, and Peavy's vocals are in good form. Some of the songs here could almost cut it on Reign of Fear. "Battlefield" for example is a pretty nice opener. "Southcross Union" is also pretty nice, with some decent verses and great soloing. Nice counterpoint riffage to offset "Battlefield". A classic metal cliche: the first song is the fastest, the second has the most groove. No exception here.

After that, thought, the album degenerates very quickly. The title track is very boring - the chorus is awful, and the riffs pretty boring and lacking in variety and crunch.

"Faster than Hell" is decent, even though it is pretty badly executed. It is speed metal, but very very mediocre speed metal. At least it has solid riffage. The worst on here has to be the hyperboring "Sword Made of Steel". In fact, of the last four songs, I can barely remember anything.

Avoid this one. Rage would get MUCH better than this. Get the Grave Digger debut, or some Iron Fucking Angel.