Reflections of a Shadow

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If, as suggested in Spinal Tap, "rock & roll is here to stay," then certainly few bands have "done more staying" than German heavy metal's official red-headed stepchild, Rage. Between the innate clumsiness of their songwriting arrangements and the love/hate proposition that is Peter "Peavey" Wagner's vocal style, fans and critics alike had pretty much chosen to accept or reject the group by the time their fifth album, Reflections of a Shadow, rolled around in 1990. And with good reason, as the album's balanced volley of winning and losing tracks only seemed to confirm Rage's eternal condition as an ever competent, never outstanding heavy metal band. Pretty much a holding pattern carried over from its middle-of-the-road predecessor, Reflections of a Shadow tended to focus on midpaced heavy metal anthems like "True Face in Everyone" and the tile track, with just a few all-out thrashers ("Saddle the Wind," "Nobody Knows") on hand for good measure. With its distorted operatic opening reminiscent of Pink Floyd's The Wall, "Can't Get Out" is quite the oddball, but it neatly sets the stage for the excellent single, "Waiting for the Moon," which boasts possibility the most effortless, natural-sounding chorus of the band's career. Another poignant moment arrives with the seven-minute-plus "Flowers That Fade in My Hand," which finds main man Peavey paying loving tribute to his recently deceased father, but not even a solid batch of second-half songs can elevate Reflections of a Shadow above average expectations. [Noise/Sanctuary remastered, repackaged, and reissued Reflections of a Shadow in 2002, adding five bonus cuts, including live tracks and the following year's Extended Power EP.]

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