It’s come to my attention that I’m “old.” You and I both know this isn’t true; being that I’m a perfectly-formed, phenomenally–healthy thirty-something-year-old. Also, this “old” talk is coming from a few hundred brutally–honest college students that think being twenty-four is old. Also, the same college students that think taking my picture in class and sending it to their Instagram buddies is a clever way to spend their time during a semester of chapter–a–day lectures. Sure, I’ll admit I like my bourbon neat and my beer heavy; I prefer my trusty boots to some wimpy tennis shoes; I love the feeling of stinging aftershave to pansy-assed face creams; and I think old-fashioned dirt, sweat, and pig’s fat are better for my beard than oil. OK, so maybe I don’t have Netflix and, maybe, I thought Twitter was a porn site. And, maybe, I haven’t owned or played a video game in two decades or watched my beloved Yankees whip the Red Sox in over five years. And, maybe, the reason is that I don’t watch TV (or have one). So what if I like to sit around with my old man and talk about the Battle of Franklin? What if I like to have my breakfast at 4:30 every morning? And, so what if it’s currently 4 am right now? Maybe I have gray in my beard. Maybe I have gray in my pubes. That doesn’t make me fucking old. It’s not my fault I’m way more mature and far busier than the rest of you. You want old? Go find Huck, Steel, and Rage1.
That’s right. I said it. Rage (and Steel) are old. Yet, neither show any sign of slowing down. One keeps AMG Industries the respected cesspool that it is and the other is back with new record. By my count: their seventy-eighth, in as many years. Like most fans, I prefer records like Perfect Man, Lingua Mortis, and Soundchaser to Speak of the Dead, Strings to a Web, and 21. But I can get behind most everything the band has done. Since parting ways with Victor Smolski, Peavy and the gang have sworn an allegiance to old. Twenty-sixteen’s The Devil Strikes Again was not only stripped of Smolski but also of his neoclassical guitar theatrics and the atmospheric and orchestral touches the band has been using for over a decade. The reception was mixed, but it was good to hear something more concise from the band—even if I only liked half of it.
And just like its predecessor, I like about half of Seasons of the Black. That said, the tracks I do like are great, old-school Ragers. “Time Will Tell” is a rocker with tinges of melody and a multi-layered chorus that’s as catchy as pink eye. “Justify” also uses melodic riffs and atmospheres—along with one hell of a hooking chorus—to cement its place as one of the better songs on the record. It has a growing introduction that quickens into a rocking pace and drives full-on to its bombastic chorus. After diving into a heavy interlude, it concludes with pleasant vocals and a clean lick that sounds like Andy LaRocque on guitar.
But, “All We Know Is Not” is the album’s best. It has the most memorable chorus of the record and is filled to the brim with rocking riffs and emotion-tinged leads. Midway through, it even takes a short detour into Evergrey–ville before climbing back up for the finale. Right behind it would have to be the passionate, ballady closer “Farewell.” A song that sees Peavy dig deep in vocal variety as the band soars over majestic mountain tops and down into dark valleys. It’s maybe not the best track to close out the album, but it’s still good.
In general, most of the other songs are just “catchy.” Both “Blackened Karma” and “Walk Among the Dead” have some decent memorability, but “Season of the Black,” “Serpents in Disguise,” and “Bloodshed in Paradise” are only memorable because their choruses repeat so many times you can’t help but get them stuck in your head. Sadly, “Serpents in Disguise” sticks with me for the wrong reasons. I swear Peavy is saying “serpents in de skies.” Unfortunately, for how much I want to like “Septic Bite,” I can’t. This is due to its stupid T-Rex lyrics and the dinosaur roar at the end. And the one-minute “Gaia” is the most useless thing I’ve heard in some time.
In the end, I suspect I will return to Seasons of the Black more than The Devil Strikes Again, but both are similar in approach and quality. Just the same, this record (like all Rage records) is still fun. It’s not great, it’s not bad. It’s just another solid outing from these ancient purveyors of power and speed.
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 128 kbps mp3
Label: Nuclear Blast