Rage – Soundchaser
Soundchaser provides a proper introduction of Rage’s beloved iron-jawed skeletal mascot in the form of a concept album. Gracing the cover of numerous albums by the band, you might wonder why the band chose this terrifying-looking construct as a distinctive symbol. Well, apparently the idea of a guardian-turned-monster that attacks anything that makes a sound appealed to Peavy, and it is appropriately metal after all.
Abiding by the band’s usual tendency to compose their music within fairly well-defined boundaries, Soundchaser is an album of particularly remarkable consistency. Driven perhaps by the creature’s insatiable hunger for anything it hears, the tunes here are exactly what the beast seeks to feast upon. Unlike most of their work, Soundchaser flows in a certain order, following a conflict of man which leads to the creation of the creatures, and ultimately their transformation into the feared monsters that turn upon their creators.
Straight from the beginning, there is little reprieve from the mid to high tempo riff-driven songs that Rage is famous for. In this case however, there’s precious little run-together of riffs. Historically, most of the band’s “normal” (non-symphonic) work has been a bit inconsistent, but every song here is almost equally memorable. Reading the tracklist, one finds titles such as “War Of Worlds”, “Soundchaser”, “Defenders Of The Ancient Life”, etc., and every one has a memorable collection of hooks and choruses. Picking favorites, I would list “Great Old Ones”, with its stellar chorus, “Defenders Of The Ancient Life”, with its blistering riffing and inspiring honorable lyricism, and “Wake The Nightmares”, which boasts some excellent and varied guitar work from Smolski. Most of the music on Soundchaser has a more progressive tinge than much of the band’s other work, giving Victor Smolski’s riffing wind-ups that much more power and satisfaction.
If Rage’s albums all portrayed different personas, Soundchaser would represent the dark and brooding, yet strikingly intelligent and adaptive hero figure. The smoldering musicianship makes for a more rewarding active listening experience than most of the band’s catalogue, which can occasionally grow tiresome. Songs are recalled for their overall complexity and grandeur rather than a simple chorus, though the latter is hardly a weak feature. Terrana’s drumming is a thundering cacophony, and Peavy’s bass work, though not his most stellar, plays a supporting role that enables the rest of the band to attain considerable heights.
Condensed to simple terms, Soundchaser is a supreme example of Rage’s trademark brand of slamming heavy metal. It spares you from the dumb lyrics of some of the band’s other albums and incorporates some extra shredding and some of Smolski’s best riffing. One of the best picks from their repertoire to be sure, and an album that will find a welcome home in most any heavy/power fan’s cd player.
Dan’s Rating: 4.0 out of 5