Rage

Reign of Fear

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Although vocalist/bassist Peter "Peavey" Wagner and his crew had already waxed both an album and EP the year before (when they were still known as Avenger), 1986's Reign of Fear represented their proper debut with the Rage name. In fact, even at such an early stage, the German outfit's sparsely melodic, high-precision take on speed metal is already fully intact, and it's interesting to note that, for all their attempts to improve and refine this formula throughout their career, it's arguable that -- with the exception of 1988's career-best Perfect Man -- they hardly ever topped this release. Some bands are simply not meant to evolve, and the proof is certainly in the pudding here given the clear superiority of no-fuss thrashers like "Scared to Death," "Deceiver," and "Echoes of Evil" over their more elaborate but ultimately less satisfying counterparts, which include the plodding trad metal workout "Chaste Flesh" and the excessively belabored, nine-minute misfire that is "The Scaffold." Besides exposing Wagner's still limited range as a songwriter, these ill-advised asides also place too much emphasis on his hit-and-miss abilities to carry a proper tune, as opposed to his perfectly adequate work when simply shouting his way through. And as would become a strange habit, Rage inauspiciously sneak what is possibly the album's best track, the fan-favorite "Suicide," into the album's second half. Such questionable decisions would indeed plague Rage's entire career, which was given to more abrupt creative ups and downs than most any heavy metal band and resulted in their appeal becoming both very selective and divisive thereafter. But for now, Reign of Fear qualifies as a worthy midlevel entry into the era's strong sampling of Teutonic thrash. [Noise/Sanctuary remastered, repackaged, and reissued Reign of Fear in 2002, adding five live and unreleased bonus cuts to boot.]

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