overground scene


My rage

Germany has indisputably contributed some of the most amazing metal bands. The German thrash scene has been the only one that can compete with the extremely influential and successful North American scene. Californian thrashers (like Metallica and Slayer) were nurtured in the setting provided by the glamour of suburbia and a decaying (glam) metal scene, German thrashers in the context of post-industrialisation, unemployment and urban decay. But Germany did not only offer unique thrash bands like Kreator and Sodom, but also amazing power metal bands, like Helloween, Blind Guardian, Gamma Ray, Scanner and Rage. Each one of these bands managed to create a unique personality and be adored around the world. Rage has always been one of my all time favorite bands.

As with the rest of the big German bands it took them a couple of albums to develop their personal sound. It happened with the brilliant “Perfect Man”, when Peavy, Manni and Chris unleashed their melodic yet abbrassive music to the world. The unexpectedly catchy melodic choruses have since then become a trademark characteristic of Rage. Peavy’s genius compositional ability was supplemented by Manni’s genius guitar playing (which is the definition of  “out-of-control”) and Chris’s frantic drumming. The thing about Rage is that they sound like a bunch of Thrashers and Punks being trapped in the bodies of Heavy metal musicians. Chris’s playing is reminiscent of both punk and thrash (which was influenced by punk to begin with) since he rarely uses double-bass as other power metal drummers. Instead, he prefers a very fast standard double beat (snare-bass-snare-bass), often D-beat and a generally stripped down and aggressive sound. Manni’s style is also out of control along the lines of Randy Rhoads, where openings for short solos and improvisations are always welcome. Peavy’s voice is in line with the conventions of the time, where the highest pitch was the goal. He changed his approach to singing later in the mid-nineties, I think for the better.

As far as song-writing goes,  Rage’s music has elements of Rock n roll, traditional Metal, Thrash and in the latter years Death Metal. Rage’s lyrics used to deal with environmental issues, societal problems, alienation, death, loneliness, pilgrimage and fantasy. Revisiting some of the lyrics, it makes me wonder how much certain issues seem to be more relevant as time goes by. There is commonsensical wisdom hidden in songs like “a spider’s web”, which talks about excessive borrowing and debt to fuel consumerism, or the pharmaceutical industry which infects people with diseases in order to sell them more medicine (Medicine). Of course Peavy is  a great fan of Lovecraft and he has written several songs that directly or indirectly point to him, such as the monumental “in a nameless time“, “shadow out of time”, “the crawling chaos” etc., while one can find references elsewhere (e.g. Time and Place).

Peavy’s creativity, both musical and lyrical, was unmatched at least until the late nineties. Social concerns and sensitivities are ever-present over this period. He has composed some of the most beautiful love songs that I have ever listened, such as Light into the darkness, Don’t fear the winter, All this time and End of all days. In these songs, like in all rock music, death finds it’s way to the discourse of love in different ways. However, Peavy’s ideas often reflect patriarchal and sexist structures of thinking, such as on the song True face in everyone. While he condemns the rape of a woman, the conclusion remains that “now she can’t trust a man no more”.

The thing that used to stand out the most with Rage was the ability to play otherwise joyful melodies in an extremely frantic manner, managing to reconcile different music genres in an inspiring way. Songs like Send by the devil, Raw caress and Power and Greed are perfect examples of this. And at times, when you didn’t think it can get any more extreme it does, like with the monumental Who dares! For some of their older fans, Rage died after Manni left in the mid nineties, or when the Efthimiades bros left in the late nineties. I sometimes agree with them, as I don’t particularly like their material after Ghosts. However, Peavy’s creative genius is still there, and on certain moments I still can’t believe my ears. Most importantly, Peavy’s kindness and love for music continue to inspire myself and others to be better people and artists.

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