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The expected masterpiece fails the test - 70%

Felix 1666, April 3rd, 2015
Written based on this version: 1987, 12" vinyl, Noise Records

I had great expectations concerning "Execution Guaranteed". Rage´s fantastic debut gave me hope. They were just a short step away from joining the ranks of my personel speed metal heroes. The band just had to outgrow its childhood illnesses and everything would be fine. How naive. Of course, Rage did not take care of my simple trains of thought. Without starting a revolutionary process, they redefined their sound in a more or less significant way. They did not really disappoint me, but the quality level of the debut was not met. Too many songs with comparatively tedious parts had crept in while the production did not exceed an average level. It lacked a bit of pressure and aggressiveness. But do not get me wrong. The overall impression of the vinyl was fairly solid, not at least due to its strong beginning.

"Down by Law" opened the album in a straightforward manner. This was speed metal at its best. The subsequent title track surprised with lyrics about the Mafia, a rather unusual topic at that time. Musically, it stood in the tradition of its counterpart of the debut. Similar to "Reign of Fear", it was focused on creating a gloomy and threatening atmosphere. Rage managed to keep up the suspense during the entire seven minutes of the song. But the album did not shine with an oversupply of really exciting songs. Maybe I was fixated too much on the raw and thrashy approach of the debut. Songs like "Before the Storm (The Secret Affair)" did not follow the principles of underground speed metal. Instead, its very melodic chorus made me think of Helloween´s happy metal formula. Unfortunately, with the exception of "Ride the Sky", Helloween never wrote a good song. Rage could therefore not be compared with these barely disguised posers. Peavy and his partners in crime offered an authentic attitude, an advantage which should not be underestimated.

The B side presented, inter alia, three well configurated songs. Stylistic elements of traditional metal were closely interlinked with speed metal parts. Nonetheless, I was not able to identify outstanding parts. Especially the instrumental "Grapes of Wrath" did not have this certain extra dose of suspense that every instrumental needs in order to compete with the other songs. (Just compare it with Living Death´s "Wood of Necrophiliac" from their masterpiece "Protected from Reality".) Generally speaking, the music on "Execution Guaranteed" was pretty decent; no more, no less. But in terms of Rage, this was almost a crushing verdict. The band seemed to operate in a mechanical way while lacking of liveliness and unpredictability. "When You´re Dead" was not even decent. To put it ironically, it fought very hard in order to achieve its status as a prime example for a real filler. But in view of the trivial chorus and the lackluster guitar work, its fight was successful.

Too bad that Rage was not capable to create the necessary amount of penetrating power, for whatever reasons. Despite the regrettable dominance of mid-tempo parts, the basic structure layed the foundation for a good output. But over the entire running time of the album, the lack of spontaneous and extraordinary features became clear.