RAGE, Reflections of a Shadow (1990, Noise)
Although it looks like it was painted in fifth period art class by a junior class goth, this is a nice, simple skull that works despite an amateur execution. The left-to-right dome-to-teeth orientation is an unusual one in the skullection, as well. It is not clear that we’re seeing any reflections, but at least the shadow of the skull is there, so: points for thematic unity. This is notably one of the few Rage covers that don’t feature the band’s mascot Soundchaser, who is himself fairly skully. Band leader Peavey Wagner, it should also be noted, is a literal collector of skulls, albeit primarily of the inferior animal kind, but his personal collection of hundreds of skulls is nonetheless regarded with admiration by the Council.
While it was a widely known fact that my love of Rage knows almost no bounds, even I can admit that this is a spotty album. Situated between the awesome Secrets in a Weird World and the monumental Trapped!, Reflections rarely convinces on the merits. While “True Face In Everyone,” and “Flowers That Fade In My Hand” are among Peavey’s best (and most progressive) tunes, the awkward clunk of “That’s Human Bondage” and the corny stutter of “Can’t Get Out” drag the album down to middling in this band’s astoundingly large discography. This was also the last album where Peavey thought he had any business trying to hit the stratospheric high notes, which even he admitted sounded a bit like Mickey Mouse, although the final screams in “Flowers” are a spine-tingling highlight of a poignant and personal song. Compared to their last few albums, this is still a very good disc, and if it had come before, or after, their prime period (instead of smack in the middle) I think it would be held in much higher esteem by me, by the fans, and by the band.
– Friar Johnsen