The concept of a double album is something that most bands would never dare attempt. RAGE are not like most bands, though, and are celebrating their 40-year anniversary. To mark it unlike any other band, these German power and thrash metal veterans have unleashed a mammoth double album in a way only they could. Combining speed, power and thrash metal to take the listener on a journey through the four decades RAGE have blessed listeners for. For this double album, RAGE have made the decision to have a more traditional sounding first album called ‘Afterlife’ and a second, more experimental album called ‘Lifelines,’ which is more symphonic. Both albums are fantastic and sound incredible, however I believe that ‘Afterlife’ is the better representation of who RAGE are as a band, and that ‘Lifelines’ showcases who RAGE aspire to become in the future.

‘End Of Illusions’ kicks ‘Afterlife’ off after a minute and a half long intro. This song is a ruthless force of energy, match that with a catchy chorus and an excellent first guitar solo, the listener gets a brutal reminder that RAGE never lost their edge as well as the fact that they are writing music that is catchier than ever.

Following this, comes the first of two singles. ‘Under A Black Crown’ is the weaker of the singles as it is nowhere near as energetic as second single ‘Cold Desire’. This seems like a more experimental song for the band as well as it is a slightly slower song and does not include a guitar solo which RAGE tend to have in their songs.  The pace increases right after, as the third and title track of the first album gives the listener another glimpse of the epic melodies which are nearly always consistent on both albums. Where the album truly shines, is on a song called ‘Mortal.’ This song showcases each of the musician’s ability. Peter “Peavy” Wagner’s vocals sound ferocious here, as they clearly cut through the rest of the instruments, whilst drummer Vassilios “Lucky” Maniatopoulos blasts our eardrums with one of the most unique drum performances on this album. The riff in this song is probably my favourite in this album. Guitarist Jean Borman takes no prisoners with this one. Absolutely brutal! This brutality continues until ‘Justice Will Be Mine.’  This is probably the softest, and catchiest song on ‘Afterlife’. A song that sounds like a power metal classic that would be expected from a band like Hammerfall. Something I never expected from RAGE. The first album ends with ‘Life Amongst Ruins’ a song that still has an awesome riff and another masterful guitar solo but does not really represent the rest of the album well as the chorus sounds a little bit bizarre to me.

The second album, ‘Lifelines’ starts with second single, and my favourite of the two, ‘Cold Desire.’ It is heavy, has a huge chorus and encapsulates RAGE at their very best. However, things are only going to get weirder, and bolder from here.  As ‘Root Of Our Evil’ is another track that gives power metal vibes, but this time the song is a lot more symphonic which is still a shock to me as I never expected to hear RAGE music like this.

It is when ballad ‘Dying To Live’ comes on that I realized just how much variety there is on both of these albums. There really is something for everyone here, and although this is a very good attempt at a folk sounding ballad, I was even more shocked to see that there was a song that is nearly 10 minutes long. The title track for ‘Lifelines’ is easily the most ambitious, and not to mention longest song this band has ever written. There is a lot to love in this song. It sounds moody, but strangely fast-paced and upbeat at times. A contrast RAGE know all too well. The verses are mellow and heartfelt, but the chorus is a massive explosion of noise and we have not reached the really, really long bridge yet! The bridge is very thrashy, and feels like a few different breakdowns thrown together, which I did not really find appealing.  But there is another guitar solo right after this poor mix of breakdowns.  Peavy’s vocals reappear afterwards for another chorus. This continues nearly until the song’s end. Could this song have been shortened? Yes, but I respect the ambition the band members had to attempt something like this.

The very final song, ‘In The End’ once again sounds more folky, and features some of the best vocals I have ever heard from Peavy. It is also a lighter song, which I guess would make sense to have after nearly 90 minutes of mostly heavy tracks and is something that I definitely appreciate. Whilst there is unfortunately only a tiny bit of vocals here, the sense of closure comes from the fadeout of the folky and dreamy sounding acoustic guitar, which is a very nice touch.

Overall, this double album is a celebration of RAGE’s past, present and evidently what they want to achieve in the future. With songs such as ‘Lifelines’ it is very clear that RAGE is a band that is still very ambitious. Even a whopping 40 years into their career. I believe that in this case, it is best to continue doing what you know, as songs like ‘Mortal,’ Cold Desire’ and ‘End Of Illusions’ are instant RAGE classics, and whilst ‘Lifeline’ itself is a very ambitious song, I believe it could have been easily cut down in half, and turned into a four to five minute song. This is an album that is fuelled by classic sounds. Old school RAGE fans will be happy, and so will newer ones that are just starting to listen to either thrash or power metal, and that is to be applauded.

Rage: Afterlifelines – Out 29th March 2024 (Steamhammer / SPV)


– Cold Desire (Official Music Video) (