In the late 1980s, power metal was still a growing genre in the European countries. Bands like Helloween have released critically and commercially successful albums and seemed to be unstoppable among metalheads. Though Rage never attained the popularity as their German brothers, their earliest releases deserve the very same attention that is given to Helloween’s first three albums; and the absolute best place to verify this claim is Secrets in a Weird World
. Following the well-liked album Perfect Man
, Secrets in a Weird World
takes Rage’s sound to the next level by adding a higher prominence of speed metal to it, along with varying the songs.
After the short “Intro (Opus 32 No. 3),” this change in heaviness can be immediately noticed by the intensity of “Time Waits For No One” and all succeeding tracks. This blistering song works as a fantastic introduction, and is a perfect representation of what is to come in this “weird world.” Rapid riffage, pulverizing drumming, and Peter Wagner’s varied vocals are at their best within the song’s five minute length. With the dark instrumentals and a singer that can match both the light and the dark of the genre, “Time Waits For No One” is just the beginning of this metallic assault. Throughout the album, the band continues playing creatively and makes fantastic moment after fantastic moment; from the immediate introduction to the closing notes. That said, specific examples include the plentiful amount of riffs in “She,” and the upbeat and pure power metal nature of “Light into the Darkness.” However, the greatest moment of this release (and perhaps Rage’s entire history) comes from the epic ending of the LP: “Without a Trace.” The song contains many unique elements and moments, constantly shifting in tempo and style over a nine minute period. The song, with almost no warning, shifts from calming to chaotic, and back again; which all leads up to an explosive finish that works as a fitting conclusion to the album.
Though this is an extremely diverse release, Rage knows to keep many of their songs concise and simple in length. Outside of the aforementioned album closer, no song goes on for longer than six minutes; which works wonders for an album like this. Keeping this album simple, Rage makes ten highly enjoyable songs with enough heaviness and melody to sway over just about any fan of power metal. The entire band makes sure that each moment within their (somewhat) shorter lengths is enjoyable and important, displaying that the writing is just as strong as the individual performances. From the short “Talk to Grandpa” to the somewhat more complex “Distant Voices,” the entire album never fails by containing abundant and enjoyable writing.
As for individual performances, many listeners may find it difficult to avoid singing along to Wagner’s higher-pitched, though still powerful, performances; such as moments throughout “The Inner Search.” Though the technical instrumentals and simpler structures certainly help make this album as great as it is, Secrets in a Weird World
would not be the near-classic it is without Mr. Wagner’s singing. Containing enough of a range to hit the ludicrous power metal choruses while still having a lower voice, Peter Wagner deserves to be noted as one of the best singers of power metal. When melded with the instrumental onslaught of Schmidt on the guitar and Ephthimiadis on drums, it all becomes one simple, yet complete, collection of melody and aggression.
For a release in the early years of power metal, Rage definitely knew to craft a unique brand of this young genre. Creating both heaviness and melodies throughout this entire album, Secrets in a Weird World
is a remarkable release in every category. The songwriting, instrumentals, and vocals all consistently succeed, and Rage establishes themselves as one of the strongest performers in the genre of power metal.