Strings to a Web

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Like a tree falling in a forest, Rage are one of those incredibly prolific bands that carries on releasing record after record after record, whether anyone's there to hear them fall or not. And although the veteran German power metal trio has hardly gone into the tank or lacked for occasional creative sparks over the years (including recent stunner Speak of the Dead), 2010's Strings to a Web is definitely one of those albums that will make non-devotees amazed they're still around, and wonder why they even bother. To be fair, undeniable vocalist/bassist Peter "Peavy" Wagner, guitarist Victor Smolski, and drummer Andre Hilgers remain a fearsome performing unit and lack nothing in terms of commitment or belief in their craft, but they appear to be either suffering from acute schizophrenia or entering a collective state of senility on Strings to a Web. Here's an album that will certainly never feel lonely keeping its own company, because it starts out seriously obsessed with hard rock fundamentals -- from the syncopated guitar lick borrowed from Van Halen's "Mean Street" for opener "The Edge of Darkness" to the all-chorus, all-the-time likes of "Into the Light" and "The Beggar's Last Dime" -- before alighting in the pomp metal orchestra pit via the five-song symphonic metal suite entitled "Empty Hollow." Amid all this, the trio also stops off for brief sorties into guitar-driven complexity ("Hunter and Prey"), an Ozzy Osbourne/Zakk Wylde homage ("Saviour of the Dead"), and that mandatory weepy ballad ("Through Ages"). Don't misunderstand, all of this variety would be well and good if the patented Rage aesthetic for tackling them didn't sound so damn tired and familiar, and the flights of songwriting fancy so forced. But, in the end, it almost feels like the Rage boys are staving off their middle-aged metal boredom by pushing it onto their fans -- thanks a lot! -- making one wonder whether an extended break might be in order. After all, how can one miss them if they won't go away?

Track Listing - Disc 2

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
blue highlight denotes track pick