Refuge – Solitary Men (Frontiers Records)Thursday, 7th June 2018
A resurrection of sorts of an early Rage lineup just under a new name, Refuge consists of the Peavy-Manni Schmidt- Christos Efthimiadis trio of musicians who recorded five Rage records together during 1988-1993 (Perfect Man often cited as a favorite of the catalog). While Peavy has kept Rage going solid through the decades, the other musicians moved into different acts – finally coming together again for a surprise reunion show in 2014, and festival/show appearances across Europe in Japan in subsequent years. Striking while the iron (and label interest) is hot, Solitary Men may be a debut for Refuge, but essentially is a return to former heavy/power metal glory for these gentlemen.
It may be 2018, but Refuge continue to churn out their blend of melodic power, semi-speed riffs with charm and finesse that is classic Teutonic flavor all the way. Even when they choose to be a little more bluesy in the guitar inflections for “Bleeding from Inside”, the slamming groove and Peavy-oriented sinister melodies keep the song in a familiar Accept mold. Those that desire high octane guitar action that sets the aural landscape ablaze should lap up “Summer’s Winter” and “Hell Freeze Over”, while if you want occasional variation with clean to marching movements that can galvanize the troops, “Living on the Edge” may be the anthem you fancy. Although most of the album sits in that 4 to 5-minute template, towards the back half of the record the longest cut “Waterfalls” at 7:31 showcases the diversity of Refuge. The beginning strains are very ethereal/clean while Peavy uses more of his lower register vocally and Manni delivers some slower lead break work with whammy accents before ramping up the tempo a bit, allowing Christos a chance to flex his kit skills through serious fill mastery.
Refuge possess that blue collar attitude and solid execution to their power/heavy metal material – meaning that Solitary Men may not wow people in the way that say Helloween or Dragonforce have, but it’s the type of songwriting a la Metal Church, Iced Earth, and Saxon that metal purists clap and chant along to just as well.