Rage – Welcome To The Other Side

June 27, 2012 in Artist Rewind, Reviews by blackwindmetal

Welcome To The Other Side

In 2001, after a couple of years of recovery from the departure of his entire band, Peavy Wagner and newfound brothers-in-arms Victor Smolski and Mike Terrana heaved the extraordinarily unique Welcome To The Other Side into a churning current of changing metal tides. For their first foray together in Rage, the trio crafted an intricately detailed and widely varied monster of an album which defies quick comparison to what the band would create both prior to and after its release, instead proving to be an engaging segueway. Unlike the past couple of albums, which saw Peavy utilizing orchestration more and more, Welcome To The Other Side instead begins with a rather straightforward and yet extremely dynamic approach.

Well, prior to this point, “extremely dynamic” and “extraordinarily unique” have not been words that I’ve used to describe individual Rage albums, which, both before and after this pivotal album have been quite consistent and fairly predictable. I suppose I owe you, the reader, some explanation. The strange tides of circumstance and reformation see to it that while this album is still very identifiably the same band under the same flag of leadership, it wraps up a bundle of ideas and sounds that make it a transitional milestone in the group’s career. While Unity would find Victor Smolski settling into a rather well-defined riffing groove, here he is all over the place (which in this case is a good thing). From head-smacking riffs in opener “Paint The Devil On The Wall”, to ethereal and heady solo work in “Requiem”, Peavy must have been mad with joy to find himself with such excellent company.

True and excellent variety is the order of the day here. Ripping mid-tempo tracks are present, as they are on every work the band has ever produced, but so are more pop-oriented rockers such as “The Mirror In Your Eyes” and “Sister Demon”, as well as the screaming pace of “No Lies”, and the surprisingly capable balladry of “Deep In The Night”. Peavy pulls out a multi-part song with “Tribute To Dishonor”, and it is an exceptionally good one amongst several that the band has created. Shifting between images of anticipation, conviction, and malignancy, and wrapping up with the powerful “I’m Crucified” (with some foreshadowing of things to come for the band), this is possibly one of the best and most concise multi-part song experiences that I’ve had the pleasure of hearing.

Sonically, this album has an excellent balance of sound. Especially in comparison to older Rage, the paradigm shift to a trio instead of a four piece musical machine means that despite being less crowded, the musical elements are easier to pick out. The roar or trickle of guitar, the punch of Peavy’s bass, and Mike Terrana’s excellent drumwork; all are always easily discernible. While keyboard work does crop up here and there, even on the “Tribute To Dishonor” suite, the symphonics are quite subtle and restrained, unlike the album’s predecessor, Ghosts. The sheer enormity of this album (17 tracks, none of them wasted, and 65 minutes of metal) defies the possibility of a careful track by track. Howver, aside from the notable works that I’ve already mentioned, I’d like to draw special attention to the maniacal and impetuous nocturnal journey that is “Riders On The Moonlight”, as well as the at first seemingly absurd rocking stomp of “Straight To Hell”, which turns into one of the more unique songs that the band has written.

If you’re going to pick up one Rage album that provides a great sampling of what the band can do at its best, I highly suggest that you consider Welcome To The Other Side. The influences and sounds are widespread enough that it is very slow to wear out its welcome, and unlike some of the band’s later material, the lyrical themes are less worn and often less clumsy. Think of this album as a strange blend of both the original and newer incarnations of the band. I might consider this the absolute pinnacle of Rage’s overall mastery of blending very mixed elements into their music, and it is an absolutely necessity for listeners of landmark heavy and power metal.

Dan’s Rating: 4.25 out of 5