By Jason Wellwood
My first listen to this record had me tagging it as a possibility for my album of the year, my second listen had me not too sure about it, but my third, fourth and fifth brought me right back around to my original opinion. Strings To A Web may well be Rage’s finest. The record kicks off with a galloping romp entitled ‘The Edge of Darkness’, leading into ‘Hunter and Prey’ and ‘Into The Light’…all three tracks very reflective of Rage as a musical entity: straight ahead, galloping metal with HUGE sing-a-long choruses. Peavy Wagner has never sounded this good, the use of both ends of his range (mid-range melodic and low end growl) compliments every song perfectly. The appearance of Blind Guardian’s Hansi Kursch adds interesting highs to the background on some songs as well.
‘Empty Hollow’ kicks off the four song centrepiece of Strings To A Web, leading to a slight divergence in sound for Rage: prog! Victor Smolski is at his best here: the songs structured classically with enough melody to make you remember every part for hours afterwards. Overall, the writing of the record and performances of all involved makes Strings To A Web feel like a career peak. The material is strong and Peavy and company have created a traditional metal masterpiece. I do, however, thing the pseudo-blues opening of ‘Hellgirl’ is a little cheesy, (baby cries, guitar answers, baby cries, etc.) but it works very well with the record as a whole. It sounds like the band is having fun, and the fun comes through in the music.
Included with the Canadian release of Strings to a Web is a DVD featuring Rage’s live set from Wacken Open Air 2009 as well as some bonus live footage from Masters of Rock 2009 and a live track from Sofia. Live, the band absolutely shines. As amazing as this album is, when you put it up against the live material on the DVD you can see the band absolutely commands on stage. As a three piece they still fill the stage and every single voice is singing along. Astounding! Maybe Strings To A Web is the album that will bring them that much love on our side of the pond. Buy this, NOW!
(Sonic Unyon Metal)