It’s official; Rage definitely eat brain food, because this album is one of the best and most technical releases I have so far heard during my association with the German metal scene. I’d heard the very early beginning of this project on my last visit back in February, but it’s nice to see that the final mix far and away betters my early impressions, and I’m sure we’re seeing a revitalization of the German scene.
What is obvious right from the word go is that Rage have vastly improved their capability to work as a unit to the same very high standard.
‘Down By Law’ shows all the four musicians not only working well individually but also blending their styles very well. The album betters the band’s last project, Reign Of Fear, and I’m sure you’ll agree when you place this on the turntable because the difference is quite obvious. There’s still a lot of straightforward powerful metal, such as ‘Mental Decay’ with its catchy chorus and ‘Hatred’, but there’s also some excellent technical musicianship and complex material on ‘Streetwolf’ and ‘Before The Storm (The Secret Affair)’.
Rage have taken something of a risk, but I think their own class and the use of Tommy Hansen in the studio has brought them through with flying colours. One gripe I did have was that a weaker rhythm guitar didn’t really bring out the power of tracks, like ‘When You’re Dead’, or the subtle changes of guitar style from Jochen Schröder and Rudy Graf, but it couldn’t dampen my spirits toward the overall effect of the album. Hansen used some excellent background effects to give the album an extra dimension, much as he did with Helloween’s Keeper Of The Seven Keys LP, and I hope it brings the band the success they deserve. Technically, the album works even better than Mekong Delta, which must take a very creditable second place, so I urge you all, buy or die!!!
Review taken from Metal Forces, Issue 24 (1987)