Lingua Mortis Orchestra – LMO
Lingua Mortis Orchestra – LMO (2013)
Reviewed by Daniel Millard
Peavy and company at Rage are finally in front of a full orchestra for an entire album, and with all of the support that such an arrangement implies. A couple of months ago, I was extremely excited about this, but after listening to LMO a few times, I find myself unable to muster too much more than “yeah, that’s pretty cool, I guess”. It took me a bit to collect my thoughts on why, when the band’s previous symphonic arrangements have been amongst my favorites, this dedicated project seems to do fairly little for me. Because of my general enjoyment of Rage’s work (particularly Smolski), my following thoughts will likely seem overly critical to the casual reader, in which case I encourage you to read my reviews of Rage’s other works.
First of all, the actual combination of a conventional three-piece metal outfit with an orchestral ensemble is tight and effective. There’s never been any doubt about the competency of any of the musicians here, and remains none. However, I get the distinct sense that many of them are performing well below their skill level: these compositions are quite basic, and even the most ambitious – single and opener “Cleansed By Fire” – seems underwhelming after the excellent offerings displayed on Speak Of The Dead and Strings To A Web. Largely, I think this is because of the lack of tie-in to other material. While LMO boasts a couple of longer compositions, I’ll take the first half of Speak Of The Dead any day for pure bombast, superb melodic ideas, and the band’s spirit.
I mention “spirit”, because this is where LMO differs substantially from other Rage work. Even more than the band’s past orchestral compositions, this album was composed to be grandiose and impressive, and to capitalize upon the appeal of a full orchestra. News flash: that’s not why most people listen to Rage. Smolski is the reason that most metalheads listen to Rage, and when you tone down his riffing and solo wizardry, you get at best a simple but enjoyable orchestral experience, and at worst, a bloated but very elementary mass of philharmonic faffery (phaffery? phaphery? I digress…).
Now, mind that Rage is never very complex, and that Peavy’s lyrics on this album are as bumbling as ever they were, but I find my favorite compositions are those closest to the core band’s usual fare, such as “Witch’s Judge” and perhaps “Scapegoat”. Therefore, the conclusion here is pretty simple: if you always wanted Rage to do more symphonic material and don’t place too much value on Victor breaking your neck with every song, you’ll probably enjoy this considerably. It’s just a bit too tame for me though, and I’d have liked it better if there were more haunting tunes (think “Empty Hollow” from Strings To A Web), or if the songs were more complex. As it is, this is “nice”, but rarely much more than that.
3.0 // 5