Let’s leave outside of this article the “conversation” of how criminally underrated Rage are. After all, the band has a big share of the responsibility why they never became as huge as they deserved to be. But if there’s an album in Rage’s discography that can describe better the reasons why Peavy’s armada never made it big, “Reflection of a Shadow” is the best example for that. Managing problems, wrong decisions’ for music direction and commercial turn in their sound, plus bad timing, being the most characteristic reasons in the end…
Back in 1989/90 Rage had a decent status of a promising and ambitious band that could claim to be the next big thing in speed/power. Their Teutonic metal was popular in Europe but the sirens from America were calling them to their shores. Financially wisely (for his financial…of course) Karl U. Walterbach, Noise label president/owner, (and Rage’s label at the time) signed a contract with BMG/Capital Records for distributing Rage albums to the States.
Of course BMG/Capital Records saw the opportunity to get some dollars through this deal but they knew that the American audience wants something less edgy than what the Germans delivered in their previous records. So they forced through Walterbach the band to become a little more commercial and radio friendly. The result wasn’t so impressive and not so good either in economic or artistic terms.
Personally speaking I love this (underrated) album. But I can understand what many claim, that “Reflections of a Shadow” seems a little weak especially for Rage old school fanatics. But considering the problems Noise had at this particular period, the “mistake” to sign a contract with a much bigger label that controlled everything and the growing disinterest in this kind of metal in the early 90’s, we are talking for a dignified release. “Waiting for the Moon”, “Saddle the Wind”, “Nobody Knows” and the touching tribute to Peavey Wagner’s father “Flowers That Fade in My Hand” are top notch, also showing an improvement in Wagner singing. But some tracks are too soft for a speed/power band even though as compositions are good.
So “Extended Power” ΕΡ that was released only 4 months later -in April 1991- and contains a (back then) new song, leftovers of the writing sessions for previous albums and the remake of the song “Battlefield” from the first Avenger album “Prayers of Steel” was something like a gift to tame the fans that felt disappointed from Rage and “Reflections of a Shadow”- (and probably a good reason for Walterbach to get some extra money from the band…)
In May 1992 the album entitled “Trapped!” was released and everything came back to normal, even for only 5 years…. and with some lineup changes of course…
*“Reflections of a Shadow” is Rage’s 5th full length and it came out via Noise records in 4 December 1990 and was recorded in Sky Trak Studios, in Berlin between July-September 1990.