You can just imagine the scene – the Rage band members sitting round a table discussing what they are going to call their new album. "Well, it's our 21st album, so how about '21'? Job Done! This may be the 21st album from the German power Metal trio, but crikey, what a superb album it is.
'House Wins' sets the scene at a gambling table before the title track opens things up, with a song about the darker side of gambling, where you never have the big win that you always live for. The track itself is a good solid opener that sets the pace for the rest of the album. It's backed up with a punchy guitar riff and a solid drum track, and crisp clear vocals tying everything together.
Next up is 'Forever Dead', which is a far more aggressive number about an uncomfy father/son relationship, with a strong, shouty chorus supplied by Wagner, which is a marked contrast to some of the softer vocal styles that he uses elsewhere on the album.
'Feel The Pain' starts off quietly enough and develops into a solid riff and another shouty and fairly straightforward chorus. This track is one of the lighter ones on the album, but this doesn't make it any less enjoyable. The album takes a lyrically darker turn with 'Serial Killer', which name-checks various real life serial killers and muses as to what they may have been thinking when they committed their crimes. Behind all the darkness, is a superb guitar solo supplied by Smolski.
'Psycho Terror' starts with a simple enough backbeat before the main riff kicks in, along with some solid vocals from Wagner (who at times sounds not too dissimilar to Lemmy) and another outstanding guitar solo from Smolski.
'Destiny' continues the pace, imploring the listener not to waste their lives, and contains a mid-tempo chorus placed between the more frantic verses and 'Death Romantic' proves what an excellent drummer the band have in Hilgers – from start to finish, he never seems to let up. Add into the mix some more aggressive vocals from Wagner, and you have the makings of a future classic track.
'Black And White' has another blistering guitar solo before the sheer power of 'Concrete Wall' is unleashed. Easily the shortest track on the album, clocking in at just under four minutes, it's a frantic chase which includes a short bass section from Wagner, which could be utilised well in a live situation.
The album wraps up with 'Eternally', a power ballad of the highest order. Certainly this is one of the outstanding tracks on the album for me. Slow in tempo with a soft vocal, with the addition of a soaring guitar solo - fantastic. Sure, if it was released as a single it might not make the Top 40 (do charts really means anything these days, anyway?) but if 'Eternally' was to be released as a single, I'm sure it would get a lot of radio play.
Put quite simply, '21' is certainly proof that Rage have a lot to offer, and let's hope they make it over to the UK soon for some live dates as it would be interesting to see how some of these songs translate in a live concert.
Peter 'Peavey' Wagner – vocals and bass
Victor Smolski – guitar
Andre Hilgers – drums