I’ve been a Rage fan since the early nineties when I first stumbled across Secrets In A Weird World in a heavy metal shop in Newcastle, New South Wales.  I lost track of them a few years after, but about fifteen years ago I was asked by Sentinel Daily Editor, Scott Adams, to do a review of their latest album at the time and my fandom was revived instantly.  I picked up their back catalogue to understand what I had missed (which was damn good) and since then I’ve lived my way through all the line-up changes and the different facets of their brilliance.  Coming soon to you, then, is studio album twenty seven, Afterlifelines.

Afterlifelines is a double album that happens to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of Rage as a band.  The first disc, Afterlife, is like a throwback and yet also a continuation of that typical Rage sound.  Peter ‘Peavy’ Wagner and his bandmates of the previous couple of albums, Jean Bormann (guitar) and Vassilios “Lucky” Maniatopoulos (drums) are tight as can be on this album.  The intro – In The Beginning is an uplifting start but quickly breaks down into an arpeggio solo and into a great song in End of Illusions.  This is the Rage that I know, oh so well.  Following fast on it’s heels is the first single Under a Black Crown.  This trio to kick off gives me a good idea of the ride ahead.  Afterlife is a disc that is full of power, great heavy riffs and chock full of messages from Peavy in his thought-provoking lyrics.  For example the song Toxic Waves is about the devastating amount of plastic drifting in our oceans, while Dead Man’s Eyes is about the extinction of orangutans. Both topics that Peavy is quite passionate about.

It is a solid outing and presents the standards that Rage sets for their music – damn good.  While I cannot pick a single song that really stands out to me on this side, this is not a bad thing.  I feel it is testament to how talented their writing and playing is on the whole disc.  Every song is strong in its own right and the melodies have their hooks.  I can happily listen to them all several times over.

The second side or album is called Lifelines and harkens back to the stunning XIII and Lingua Mortis albums.  For me, this is what sets Rage apart from other bands in this genre – it is fully orchestrated heavy metal.  They achieve this with support of sometime Redrum keyboardist Marco Grasshoff, from little string quartet arrangements to sweeping orchestrations featuring strings, wind instruments and piano.  Kicking off with the second single, Cold Desire, this is a gem of a song and sets the tone for Lifelines.  While the strings and orchestrations add to the melodies, it really is a support, to Rage’s powerful music and strong lyrics.  Another great disc full of music to set your ears on fire.

The standout song on this side is Dying To Live, a ballad that resonates with me at a primal level every time I hear it.  A grand song (and next to be released), tells how we seek peace, but sometimes are forced to war just to protect our peace – still it seems we are doomed.  A commentary on today’s conflicts perhaps,

All in all, over ninety minutes of Rage is coming your way on 29 March 2024 from Steamhammer/SPV.  What a way to celebrate forty fine years of heavy metal from one of my favourite bands.  Grab a copy.

Afterlifelines was produced by Rage at their own Lucky Bob Studio in Leverkusen. Rage will then embark on a major European tour from 13 April 2024, with shows and festival appearances in Canada, Japan and European countries such as Germany, Austria, Greece, Poland, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Spain and Scandinavia (unfortunately, no Australia).