Released By: Nuclear Blast
Released Date: Out Now!!!
Genre: Symphonic Metal
Peavy Wagner – Vocals, Bass
Victor Smolski – Guitar, Keyboards
Andre Hilgers – Drums
Jeannette Marchewka – Vocals
Dana Harnge – Vocals
1. Cleansed By Fire
3. The Devil’s Bride
6. The Witches’ Judge
7. Eye For An Eye
9. Straight To Hell (Orchestral Version)
10. One More Time (Orchestral Version)
In 1996 German power metal band Rage, having already established themselves with several albums during the late 80’s and early 90’s, attempted something that was considered very ambitious at the time: They used a full symphony orchestra to play alongside them on their album Lingua Mortis, which led to them making one of the first true symphonic metal albums. Since then they have added symphonic elements to their music at times, most notably on the albums Speak Of The Dead and Strings To A Web, but they have now decided to focus on a more traditional metal sound for their main albums, while their symphonic sound will get to take center stage on a new project called Lingua Mortis Orchestra, obviously named after the aforementioned album. Their debut LMO was recently released, and is an excellent album, as expected.
Along with the three current members of Rage, the album features some female vocals from Jeanette Marchewka and Dana Harnge, a guest appearance by Sons Of Seasons vocalist Henning Basse, and two orchestras. While symphonic metal has come a long way from being the novelty it was back when Lingua Mortis was released, this new album is still very ambitious, and it manages to have its own unique feel to it, that is both different from a typical symphonic album, yet also not quite what you’d expect to hear from a Rage album either. Compared to the original, this one has a much stronger metal presence, with the guitars coming in just as loud and clear as the orchestra, if not louder at points. At the same time, the orchestra and choirs do add a lot to the music, and there are several sections with just the symphonic sounds in place, but if anything these parts represent some of the weaker moments on the album, as the music is at its best when all the elements are smoothly blended together, like on “Witches’ Judge”, for example.
LMO is a concept album, with lyrics based on historic events involving the burning of witches in 1599. As such, the songs all fit together quite nicely, and in terms of overall compositions and lyrics, everything is quite solid, and at times even spectacular. The only complaint I have is that some of the songs go on a little bit too long. I’m a fan of lengthy songs, but not when an entire album is made up of them (excluding bonus tracks, the shortest full song here is still over 6 minutes), and especially when it feels like parts are dragged out in unnecessary ways just to make a song longer. The worst offender for this is “Cleansed By Fire”. The 5 minute edited version released as a lyric video was awesome, and would have only needed a few simple additions to make it perfect. Instead, in order to make it last 10 minutes they added an extended orchestral intro that goes on way too long, and an instrumental part in the middle that lasts well over three minutes, and pretty much kills the momentum of the song. Which is a shame, because otherwise the song shows how great the orchestras and band sound together, and the chorus is simply awesome. A couple other songs also feel like they could have been shortened a little bit, though most of the six minute songs work great as they are, and nothing else is as frustrating as “Cleansed By Fire”.
But moving past my minor complaints, there are plenty more positive things that deserve mentioning. Firstly, the vocal work is excellent throughout. Peavy Wagner sounds as strong as ever, and he’s added some nice dramatic touches to his vocals, which fit in great with the lyrics. Both female vocalists also do an excellent job, and both duet with Peavy throughout the album. Especially impressive is the ballad “Lament”, which is mostly backed only by the piano and orchestras, with the vocals taking center stage, and the singers do an excellent job with momentum constantly building as the song progresses, leading to a particularly strong section in the middle. Almost as impressive is “The Devil’s Bride”, which has a very theatrical feel to it, especially the intro and the vocal parts during the verses, while the chorus features some excellent operatic vocals.
While this is definitely more symphonic than any recent Rage album, there is still plenty of metal to be found here. The heaviest songs are probably “Scapegoat” and “Witches’ Judge”, with the former perhaps being a bit heavier and more progressive overall, while the latter is simply as epic and as intense as the album gets, complete with a pretty terrifying voiceover sequence near the start. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, even “Cleaned By Fire” has over 5 minutes of excellent material, and the same can definitely be said for “Eye For An Eye”, which despite also being a tad overlong, still has some excellent moments, especially the chorus, which is very nice. There’s also a few really nice power metal sections spread throughout the songs, though for the most part this is purely a symphonic metal album with some progressive leanings.
Aside from one fairly minor issue, LMO is every bit as good as I was hoping it would be, and fans of Rage and specifically their more symphonic side are sure to be very pleased with it. I’d also recommend this to anyone wanting to hear a symphonic album with a more traditional metal sound to it at points, as this album certainly has some great riffs to go along with the expected orchestra and choirs.
Written by Travis