Perfect Man

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German metalheads Rage had decided to disband after their disappointing second album, Execution Guaranteed; but it took band prime mover Peter "Peavey" Wagner less than a year to have second thoughts, so he proceeded to rebuild from the ground up. First by penning a new batch of quality songs, then by bringing in new musicians in guitarist Manni Schmidt and drummer Chris Efthimiades so as to reconfigure Rage from a quartet into a trio, making them "stronger, faster, better than they were before," as the saying goes. Sure enough, the resulting LP, 1988's exemplary Perfect Man, became the most successful and enduring of their career. With undeniable winners like "Wasteland," "Don't Fear the Winter," and the title track fueling its charge down the heavy metal autobahn, Perfect Man boasted a perfect combination of razor-sharp brutality and crisp production values. Even when they ease off the velocity meter, classic metal-inspired tunes such as "In the Darkest Hour" and "Sinister Thinking" exude a leaner, meaner front of attack, neatly avoiding the pitfalls of needless synthesizers and overbaked songwriting that together had crushed the life out of Execution Guaranteed. What's more, by weighing in at a hefty 14 tracks, Perfect Man is quite the model of productivity and value for money in the pre-CD age -- even if its high compositional standards take a noticeable dip toward the second half. So what's the final verdict? Well, in a career that by all accounts was seriously devoid of unquestionable highlights, Perfect Man shines as Rage's greatest achievement. [Noise/Sanctuary remastered, repackaged, and reissued Perfect Man in 2002, adding five live and unreleased bonus cuts to boot.]

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