Refuge - Solitary Men

Refuge - Solitary Men

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(CD/LP, Frontiers Records, 2018)

The recent history of RAGE had lots of ups and downs and, in fact, came close to an abrupt ending when Peavy announced the dismantling of the lineup with the future looking pretty vague. Fortunately, the crisis was officially averted, and the solid proof of this is the two records RAGE released in less than two years. But that is not all; REFUGE entered the spotlight when the classic RAGE lineup teamed up for some live shows (as TRES HOMBRES) just for the fun of it. Oh my, was I jealous learning that Peavy, Chris and Manni were revisiting those albums that turned me into a fan some decades ago... And then, out of the blue came the announcement of a new album titled “Solitary Men” with REFUGE being responsible. Is it possible that these fine gentlemen rediscovered their studio mojo?

First of all, I love all the RAGE evidence here; the “Secrets In A Weird World” band-logo, the obvious album-title “Trapped!” reference and the Andreas Marschall created cover artwork. “Solitary Men” highlights the story of these three musicians who, as far as I am concerned, created their own sound which remains unique after all these years. Still, these things are not enough to guarantee the return to the RAGE sound but “Summer’s Winter” can... Yeah, the guitar riff carries the sound of the '90s and, combined with Peavy’s trademark singing, wakes some sweet nostalgia but without sounding like a cheap counterfeit. It is extremely easy for me to start mentioning the albums that come to my mind while listening to this riff, that drum roll or when lip-singing another of those ‘immediately sticks to mind’ choruses, however revisiting the classic RAGE years was done with respect and with a refreshed music-writing hand. “The Man In The Ivory Tower” is another classic with the massive rhythm section (kudos for the natural drum sound) and the storytelling lyrics delivered by Peavy’s characteristic timbre (how RAGE does it sound when he sings “I am lost, this can't go on, no”?). I am very much aware that this album presentation comes out as scattered thoughts from a fanboy, but this is exactly what this is. REFUGE are all about revisiting those days and just having fun by hammering out a bunch of killer songs using the chemistry which gave birth to some awesome albums. You will find it impossible to resist headbanging to the fat rhythm of “From The Ashes” and then hold the emotions back during the sing-along chorus with all the “The Missing Link” flavors (oh my, the riff here is amazing). Amidst in all this nostalgia, there are some fresh ideas, like the groovy almost jamming-like break just before the solo which would be enough evidence that his lineup could possess the potential to do more. However, I am not sure how the pressure of putting another record out would affect the spontaneity which is clearly the driving force here. What I am trying to say is doing this once for the fun of it, is more than enough, and this comes from a person who loves RAGE and this particular lineup.

You will love the evilness in the Peavy’s vocals in the opening part of “Living On The Edge” which preps the way for the hard-hitting part and the end-of-the-days thematology which works like a charm with this wide selection of catchy melodies. The Blues-y guitar by the hands of Manni sounds super-sweet, so crack the volume up to the ten! While at it, hit “Let Me Go” and try to resist singing along the chorus that will get stuck from the first spin, and then, enjoy the positive twist listening with your fist in the air the ‘won’t give up lyrics’ of the “Hell Freeze Over”.

“Solitary Men” has served its purpose to the fullest by first and foremost (re)capturing the magic of this trio paying homage to one of the first golden eras in RAGE history. This is not a nostalgia-album (although you will have a boatload of this emotion), but a recorded-evidence of the impact this reunion had in the mind and heart of Peavy, Chris and Manni. Thank you, guys!

10/10


Links:

www.Refuge-Band.De
www.FaceBook.Com/RefugeGermany


Tracklist:

01. Summer's Winter
02. The Man In The Ivory Tower
03. Bleeding From Inside
04. From The Ashes
05. Living On The Edge Of Time
06. We Owe A Life To Death
07. Mind Over Matter
08. Let Me Go
09. Hell Freeze Over
10. Waterfalls


Lineup:

Peter “Peavy” Wagner - Vocals, Bass
Chris Efthimiadis - Drums
Manni Schmidt - Guitar