Rage - Carved in stone 3.5/5

Reviewed: 4-11-08


1. Carved in stone
2. Drop dead!
3. Gentle murders
4. Open my grave
5. Without you
6. Long hard road
7. One step ahead
8. Lost in the void
9. Mouth of greed
10. Lord of the flies

I found the last Rage CD ('Speak of the dead') to be a mild disappointment. I loved the classical first half (well other than the overly mellow ending) and found most of the heavier tracks that followed to be dull. This CD returns the band (along with new drummer Andre Hilgers) to the "normal" newer Rage sound like on earlier CDs 'Unity' and 'Soundchaser'. While this really didn't blow me away on my early listens, it has steadily grown on me and I would definitely call it an improvement over 'Speak of the dead', and on par with 'Soundchaser'. I still think 'Unity' is (by far) the best Rage CD since guitar wizard Victor Smolski joined Rage. The band's webpage proudly proclaims the new CD is "...easily the heaviest one since 'Black in mind' from 1995." I do not concur. First off, the heavier songs from 'Speak of the dead' were more aggressive, heavy, and less melodic than these. Still that's not to say this CD doesn't pack some nice aggressive, catchy riffs. Thankfully the trademark Rage melodies and catchiness are back, which were largely missing from 'Speak of the dead'. One nice bonus here is the complete lack of long songs! No track comes in at even 6 minutes in length. With so many "epics" coming off as boring and drawn out, I find this to be a relief.

The CD opens with the title-track, and the band doesn't waste any time with this intro track; the song starts with some melodic guitar riffs with some orchestral backing which foreshadow some vocal melodies during the chorus. The song erupts into a quick tempo power metal track which shouldn't surprise anyone who has listened to the last few Rage CDs. Peavy, while getting older, still sounds fine even though I am sure his range isn't what it used to be. The chorus is catchy and you'll be singing along after only a few spins. Next is "Drop dead!", whose highlight is a killer thrashy main riff. "Gentle murders" opens with some pretty snazzy 'chickin pickin' speedy riffing before entering your standard speed metal riffs. This one has another strong Rage chorus. At this point the CD is off to a solid, but unspectacular start.

Things pick up with "Open grave", which has a bit of a middle eastern vibe to the guitar melodies. This song's melodies remind me a lot of the fantastic 'Ghosts' CD, albeit in a much more aggressive format. "Without you" is fantastic. Here we have clean guitar, which once again mimics the vocal melodies in the chorus. The chorus is fantastic and is one of the best on the whole CD. "Lost in the void" is another track with a tremendous chorus. These 2 songs are probably my favorite and remind me most of the best of Rage's material. "Lord of the flies" closes the CD and is its "epic". It has some cool choir vocals in the background, and is a suitably epic closer without dragging on for long.

So, overall I am happy that this CD is better than the somewhat lackluster 'Speak of the dead'. I can't help but point out that the freshness Smolski brought into Rage has definitely worn out. A lot of the riffs, melodies, and choruses are all starting to sound familiar. I guess this is somewhat unavoidable in a band that's been around as long as Rage. Rage's constant shifting into new styles seems to have tapered off on these last few CDs. It still results in quality CDs for the most part, but I fear the best days of Rage have probably come and gone.




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