On the 28th of July German heavy metal royalty, RAGE, release their twenty third album, Seasons of the Black. RAGE are a heavy metal band who not only built a following during the 1980s as a melodic metal band on NOISE Records, buy they survived the near death of metal during the nineties and then relaunched themselves as a pioneer and an intrinsic influence to the European Power Metal movement from the new millennium, and they have remained a strong metal stalwart of the scene. The latest album builds upon the music that the current line-up released just twelve months ago in The Devil Strikes Again. When Peavy parted ways with Victor Smolski (guitarist/virtuoso extreme), who had been with the band for fifteen years, the band started to return to their metal roots and the sound established on their early eighties releases such as Perfect Man (1988), Secrets in a Weird World (1989) and Reflections of a Shadow (1990), steering away from the later more progressive and orchestral feel to the bands compositions. The Devil Strikes Again was very well received last year and many fans were ecstatic to see the band return to their traditional metal origins.
Peavy, the sole remaining founding member, bass player/vocalist and principle song writer, has stayed the course. He has steered the vessel, riding the highs and keeping the band together through the lows. History has served him well within the metal scene, and will continue to do so as the band releases further material and continue to perform on the international live scene. I was lucky to catch up with Peavy and discuss the new album.
Peavy, obviously this line-up has gelled very quickly, two albums in twelve months, so tell us how does it feel to be working with Marcus and Vasillios?
“It is absolutely great. They are both long-time friends so it is great to have a band with your buddies and it is inspiring and creative. We are writing constantly and we a have our own studio so when we released the last album, we had this one half written. They are also fans of the band and this has helped as they have reenergized me and they know what RAGE fans want to hear.”
I read in some of the promotion for the new album that a lot of the material had been written as early as October last year, only four months after the release of the previous album, has song writing and arrangement changed with the new line-up?
“Not really I still come up with the skeleton of songs and harmonic structure and melody lines. From here we meet and we develop the final version of the song. It hasn’t changed too much it is the same really, but as I said it is so easy to write with this band because we are all on the same page. So we are more likely to write and rehearse because we know each other so well and we enjoy each other’s company.”
Listening to the single, ‘Blackened Karma’, it is a real return to straight out metal songs with heavy riffs and catchy melodies, does this reflect the favour of most of the album?
“Yeah this is the most of the melodic songs. Most of the album is more thrashy and speed metal, but all of the songs have a lot of melody as this is RAGE and what we are about. We are very pleased with how the album has come together and we are very excited to be going out and promoting these songs to audiences from around the world hopefully.”
What tracks stand out for you on the album?
“My favourite is ‘Justify’ which is part of our epic twenty minute piece. It is something major and with a lot of energy. We are very proud of this piece and I am sure that it will go over very well live”
I was over the moon to hear that you have re-recorded the Avenger songs for a bonus disc as part of the release of the album, a must for any RAGE fan. How did this come about?
“I was working on a re-release for this and the first two RAGE albums and we did the remastering of this album. I just realised that these song are really great and timeless and they weren’t under the name RAGE and so I got the idea to rerecord and put them under the RAGE name where they belong. They have worked out really well and the versions they fit into the new album, so it works really well together. I am sure that older fans as well as our new fans will enjoy this bonus.”
What has Marcus and Vasillios brought to the live sound and show of the band?
“A lot. First of all they are both in their earlier bands and they are lead singers and so they are doing harmonies on the album and this is happening on the stage as well. Plus they have amazing playing skills and the band sounds tighter than ever and it is very fresh. They have really put new life into the band and its music it is a great era for the band and all of our fans.”
To reflect back now on the origins of RAGE, I recently read the book Damn the Machine (the history of NOISE Records RAGE’s first record label), and I was wondering what your memories are of signing with NOISE Records and working with Walterbach?
“There are two sides of the coin on this actually. On one hand I am grateful that we had the opportunity to get our name out there and record music and release it, but on the other hand the label boss was interfering into everything and they were always changing things without asking. He gave us the name and we didn’t have a choice, he just changed them like all of the bands at this time. You know a lot of the band who signed to NOISE in its initial years, he changed their names without even consulting, and he just did this sort of thing. It was the moving of songs and changing art work, without even talking with us. It was disrespectful to a large extent. They were different times and different way of how bands were treated. So you know very much two sided is how I feel about this guy.”
Is there anything from this era that stands out for you now after so many years in the scene?
“Yeah there are a lot things. There was a short time where we were very famous in England, which isn’t like that now. In 1988 with Perfect Man, they loved it, and we toured and things went so well at this time. All of these weird things happened so there are many, but having this hit album in England was great, unexpected and great. You know we have never really done well there since, just strange but great and interesting time.”
To finish up Peavy, is there any chance of seeing RAGE down under in support of Seasons of the Black?
“Yes it is true. We have found a real serious promoter and we should be there in March next year it is ninety percent there. We really want this to happen as playing in Australia is a real dream for us. We will do whatever we can to make this happen I assure you.”
As always it was an absolute pleasure to be talking with Peavy Wagner. The new album Seasons of the Black is released next month and is a slab of new material in the vein of the last album and old school RAGE. This complimented with a bonus disc with all of Avenger’s material, the band before they adopted the RAGE moniker, is a must for any RAGE or metal fan, bring on the 28th of July……and hope and pray to the metal Gods for a RAGE tour to Australia next year!
Interview by Mark Snedden
Rage – Seasons of the Black is Out Friday 28th July
Pre-Order via Nuclear Blast Records here