Rage – Unity
Rage has some ADD tendencies: every third album or so they seem to lose a bit of focus, resulting in something that’s just not quite top shelf material. After very good albums in Ghosts and Welcome To The Other Side, and preceding the mighty duo of Soundchaser and the symphonic Speak Of The Dead, lies the simply titled Unity. Despite being the album after the changing of Peavy’s guard, I would say that Unity is a much better example of the modern incarnation of the band than Welcome To The Other Side was. More riff-driven and less ambitious than its rather gigantic predecessor, Unity is, by and large, Rage as they would be for the coming decade.
I’m all but certain that this is due to the newfound creative input of Mr. Victor Smolski. Whereas Welcome To The Other Side was a bit of a unique transition album, Unity sees Smolski cut loose with his signature riffing for the first time. While I can’t be sure, I would guess that he had more creative input into this album, and driving compositions like openers “All I Want” and “Insanity” are indicative of much of what is to come.
Strange then, that this album coinsides one of Peavy’s less creative lyrical and thematic streaks while simultaneously introducing Smolski’s heavy hand. If it weren’t for a new guitarist, it is possible that Unity could be seen as a rather stale album. As it is, however, redundant (“Dies Irae”) or downright dumb tracks (“Down”) are generally saved by Smolski’s treatment of Peavy’s musical compositions as a virtual guitar playground. In the depths of the album, the punchy “Seven Deadly Sins” and “Unity”, a terrific and rare instrumental, make the second half of the album at least as strong as the first, and definitely more varied.
Of course, the credit is undoubtedly not all to be heaped upon Smolski. I feel Mike Terrana’s drumwork with Rage to be both an improvement and an increasingly powerful force in their overall sound. Peavy himself continues to evolve as a singer. While he always boasted a rather unique edge to his voice, the production on Unity makes it stand out even further. Perhaps he changed his delivery a bit as well, because the difference between this and Welcome To The Other Side is regularly noticeable, and the more aggressive style of songs means that his trademark growl is featured more and more often.
It may seem weaker than many of the band’s efforts, and when listening to later albums, the casual listener may feel that the band hasn’t evolved at all since this point, but as Peavy keeps screaming, “All I want is my own integrity!” Well, on Unity, he’s certainly got it. From this point onwards, no one will ever mistake Rage for another band again.
Dan’s Rating: 3.25 out of 5