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Rage > Afterlifelines > Reviews > kluseba
Rage - Afterlifelines

Wonderful Guitar Play and Diverse Songwriting Meet Flawless Production - 80%

kluseba, May 14th, 2024
Written based on this version: 2024, 2CD, Steamhammer (Digipak)

Rage and preceding group Avenger have been around for more than four decades and have released a massive twenty-eight studio records thus far. In case you are a new or occasional fan and wondering where to start your discovery of such a massive discography, then the group's first double-album Afterlifelines would serve as a fine starting point. Even seasoned fans have been speaking very positively about the trio's most recent output. The group from Herne, North Rhine-Westphalia, in the Federal Republic of Germany, offers a total of twenty-one songs with a running time of eighty-six minutes.

While some people have categorized the trio as power metal, speed metal and even thrash metal, the truth is that Rage plays energetic traditional heavy metal with occasional orchestral elements. The trio stays true to this approach on its twenty-eighth studio record. First disc Afterlife features some heavier songs while second disc Lifelines focuses on more epic tracks with occasional symphonic elements.

The rhythm section around bass guitar, drums and percussion provides a healthy dose of creativity, energy and variability that manages to form the backbone of this record. The acoustic and electric guitar play finds a clever balance between melodic sections and powerful riffs as the songwriting varies from soaring power ballads to unrelenting heavy metal. The occasional orchestral passages are used in very small doses and nobody should make the mistake to assume to discover a symphonic metal album here. Those who really appreciate symphonic metal might feel disappointed by discovering the limited use of orchestral elements while traditional heavy metal fans might actually feel relieved that the band keeps its style relatively natural, traditional and simple. The vocals find a good balance between a gritty gruff and a raw melodic tone. While Peter Wagner's vocals aren't for everyone and can even be described as an acquired taste, nobody can however deny that he sounds unique and versatile. The crystal clear, organic and timeless production blends in very well and might be one of the best in the trio's impressive discography.

Highlights on the first disc include catchy, energetic and focused single ''Under a Black Crown'', aggressive, fast and unchained ''Dead Man's Eyes'' as well as daring, diversified and dynamic ''Waterwar''.

Notable cuts from the second disc feature elegant, emotional and symphonic power ballad ''Dying to Live'', cinematic, dramatic and epic ''The Flood' as well as creative, melodic and varied ''Lifelines'' that is almost ten minutes long.

The problem with such ambitious double-albums is that several songs end up sounding somewhat alike while others fail to leave a deeper impression and must ultimately be categorized as filler material. While one can appreciate that the veterans offer so much value for money, this release would have sounded even better if it had only included about twelve songs while choosing half a dozen from each of the two parts that complete each other well and truly represent everything this band stands for.

At the end of the day, Rage's Afterlifelines is a very good heavy metal double-album that can be recommended to new, occasional and seasoned fans alike. Despite a few fillers and repetitions, the majority of the included songs have been executed with passion and skill. The melodic guitar play certainly deserves the most praise on this record. The songwriting doesn't offer anything new but remains diverse enough to be considered entertaining throughout. The natural production should also be pointed out favourably and serve as an example for similar bands in this day and age. Rage's Afterlifelines might not be the trio's greatest release ever as some enthusiasts already claim but it certainly qualifies for a spot in the upper midfield of the band's massive discography which is certainly quite an accomplishment so late in the group's impressive career.