Review Summary: Perfect Man is (almost) a perfect album
After their less than stellar sophomore effort, Rage called it quits, however it didn't even take a whole year before Peter "Peavy" Wagner decided that maybe disbanding wasn't the right path to go down. After deciding to reform, Wagner pretty much had to recreate Rage from square one, writing a brand new set of songs, being played by what was for all intents and purposes a different band, in an entirely different style of metal. The result, against all odds, manages to be Rage's best album, and an album deserving of the almost cult following it has.
The songs found here take the classic metal sound and inject it with speed and a healthy does of power metal. The result is a real oddity, the album has a sound not even Rage themselves attempted to recreate. The band plays this style for almost the whole album, rarely breaking from this patern, which is either a positive or negative depending on how you view it and your preference. For me, this makes the album feel like a more focused affair. It feels like a true album rather than a collection of songs. However, they may stick to their guns so to speak a little too much, as by the end of the album it can really feel like everything has meshed together and you've spent the last hour and thirteen minutes listening to one song. It avoids this problem if you're truly paying close attention, but if you're just listening to it in the background, it's something you'll probably notice. Still, the album isn't THAT big of an offender in this regard, and is pretty minor comparison to most other albums that suffer from the same affliction.
Peter Wagner provides vocals for Rage, and they are a real highlight. He is able to hit quite high notes, and deliver them with a considerable amount of power behind them. His vocals are what adds most of the power metal vibe the album has, and, for me is, arguably the bands biggest strength. Wagner also provides bass work that is an integral part of every song, rarely does the bass get pushed to the background. Guitarist Manni Schmidt also is a real treat, as he really is an extraordinarily gifted guitarist. His solos throughout have a real sense of scale, and feel like they're a bigger part of the overall song than maybe they really are. Plus they are absolute "shredfests". His solos are of constantly good quality on this album, even on the weaker songs. This helps hold the weaker tunes together and keeps them form seriously derailing the album. Drumming provided by Chris Efthimiadis is very good, although Rage would later come to have superior drummers in its ranks. Still, Chris (sorry, I am NOT spelling that name a second time) does a good job here. Just because better drummers exist, that doesn't mean he's bad. He knows when to fill, to come to the forefront and carry the energy of a song, and when to take a back seat to the rest of the band. Along with this, he has a fair amount of technical flair.
This disk really only suffers from one real issue, that being how much stronger the first 3/4 of the the songs here are. Not that the last quarter is full of bad songs, but similar to what Pantera did (in my opinion), they shoved the weaker tunes towards the end, hoping the strong songs' momentum would carry the last part of the album. However, unlike most Pantera releases, it works quite well here, at least as well as a record whose last 1/4 is noticeably inferior to the rest. After such a string of good songs, the less than stellar end doesn't feel THAT major, nor does it feel like it takes away from the quality as a whole. They maintain the same sound as the rest of the album, so the flow and feel of the album is still held intact through these weaker moments.
Perfect Man isn't a perfect record, but an awesome one none the less. If you like power metal, you'll like this album. If you're into speed metal, this is an album you'll enjoy. If you're just into classic metal in general, I'd at least recommend giving a song or two a chance. Perfect Man is an album that really can change the way you view a genre, I can talk from experience as it was the record that opened my eyes to power metal.