WARLOCK, RAGE, SINNER
By Rich Catino
If you read my first article titled Power Metal. The Germans, Part 1, I talked about Helloween (the inventors of the genre), Grave Digger, and Running Wild’s place in Heavy Metal’s history, and reasons they should be inducted in the Metal Hall of Fame at some point. For German Metal Part 2 I think not many would argue that Warlock should be in, and maybe I can convince you about Rage and Sinner also being in the conversation.
Doro Pesch, singer for Warlock, has been inducted in the Metal Hall of Fame. But does that also include Warlock as a band or name? Their albums? If not, well then I think there should be a category that recognizes and inducts a bands albums(s). Very much like peers Grave Digger and Running Wild, Rage, and Sinner in the mid 80s, the 1984 debut “Burning the Witches” includes several rough speed metal songs like ‘Sign of Satan’ and ‘After The Bomb’, with the classic title track and ‘Metal Racer’ which Doro plays to this day.
“Hellbound” from 1985 saw baby steps to the next two albums in songwriting and production. The title track and ‘Earthshaker Rock’ still make regular appearances in Doro’s live setlist.
By third album “True as Steel” (1986) the cover artwork shows more polish as sparks fly in the heart being carved in a pice of steel. ‘Fight For Rock’ is a great melodic anthem that had a video played on MTV’s Headbangers Ball. ‘Love In The Danger Zone’ leaves space for melody in the verses for Pesch’s vocal without losing the power to the chorus. And ballad ‘Love Song’ Doro sings with passion and tender lyrics.
“Triumph and Agony” in 1987, recorded in America, also a change in the lineup adding Tommy Bolan and Tommy Henriksen on guitar, Doro’s opening line “All we are, All we are, we are We are all, all we need” signaled the charge, and an anthem was born, ‘All We Are’. ‘I Rule the Ruins’, ‘East Meets West’, and Für immer’ are always played live, and Doro celebrated the albums 35th anniversary with a tour and “Triumph And Agony Live” CD, vinyl, cassette, DVD, Blu-ray, and a box set in 2021.
Warlock- Fight For Rock (promo video). https://youtu.be/ilFX-JJXYAQ
Rage, another name never very popular in America, yet earned quite a lot of fans in other parts of the world. Still to this day led by bassist/singer Peavy Wagner, Rage have gone through many lineup changes over the years, releasing twenty six, yes, twenty six studio albums. One under the name Avenger “Prayers of Steel” in 1985. Also noteable metal musicians like guitarists Manni Schmidt and Victor Smolski, Mike Terrana (drums) have been on a few albums.
Rage started out like Helloween, Grave Digger, Running Wild, Accept, playing pure traditional heavy metal with an emphasis on speed. But Rage were even heavier, like first Slayer, Anthrax, Metallica albums heavy. “Reign of Fear” and “Execution Guaranteed” (1985/96) are barn burners: the title tracks, ‘Scared to Death’, ‘Machinery’, ‘Down by Law’, ‘Deadly Error’. “Perfect Man” kept things fast and includes one of their first considered hits, ‘Don’t Fear the Winter’. But with this album you hear more attention to switching up tempos, riffs, and melody in the music, vocals, and cleaner production. Six albums, 1989’s “Secrets in a Weird World” through “Black in Mind” (1995), continue with powerful riffs mixing it up between fast and mid tempos. It’s some killer, but lots of filler, quantity over quality. Still some gems came out of this era like ‘Invisible Horizons’, ‘Distant Voices’, ‘Time Waits For No One’, ‘That’s Human Bondage’, ‘Reflections of a Shadow’, ‘Shame On You’, ‘Baby, I’m Your Nightmare’. ‘Nevermore’, ‘Her Diary’s Black Pages’, ‘Black In Mind’, and ‘In A Nameless Time’. As the years, decades, went on albums evolved.
It’s when 1996 comes around Rage decide to do a collaboration with the Prague Symphony Orchestra, called “Lingua Mortis” with Rage songs rearranged for a classic orchestra. This is before Metallica, Kiss, Deep Purple, Scorpions, Avantasia, Dimmu Borgir, Trans Siberian Orchestra, and several others. They would do it again in 1998 for the excellent varied album “XIII”, and in 2013. For this accomplishment alone Peavy and Rage deserve to be inducted.
Rage feat. Lingua Mortis Orchestra- Full Show – Live at Wacken Open Air 2013: https://youtu.be/U-E3xxCE4kk
Before Primal Fear would emerge in the late 90s/2000s, there was Sinner also founded by bassist/singer, Mat Sinner. Now Sinner were never a household name (especially here in America), or very successful, more an appreciated name amongst metalheads. But regardless of their popularity or lack of success, Sinner did make a contribution to the growth of heavy metal music in Germany in the 80s.
The first album “Wild ‘n’ Evil” (1982) influenced by Saxon and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, the first two Iron Maiden albums, Tygers of Pan Tang,, and Thin Lizzy (the song ‘Murder’, Ridin’ ‘The White Horse’) in Mat’s tone and delivery and the twin guitar harmonies. 1983’s “Fast Decision” you hear 70s Judas Priest ironically on ‘Runnin Wild’, ‘Crazy’, ‘Prelude #7’, to the Scorpions on melodic ballady ‘One Last Look’.
But the 1984 album “Danger Zone” is where Sinner got it and found their groove in great melodic metal riffs and hooks with backing keyboards like the title track, ‘No Place In Heaven’, ‘Lupo Manaro’, ‘The Shiver’, and ‘Shadow In The Night’. Released the following year, “Touch of Sin” continued the consistency with crunchy riffs and the anthem ‘Born To Rock’, radio friendly ‘The Storm Broke Loose’, and pulsating keys drive ‘Out Of Control’. Aptly titled ‘Germany Rocks’ a concert rally cry from 1986’s “Comin’ Out Fighting” a classic. Also, given the year those keyboards and big backing vocals a sign of the times in ‘Faster Than Light’ an influence from the American sunset strip LA glam bands. And with that, by “Dangerous Charm” in 1987 the keyboards sound straight out of a movie soundtrack. Still a couple catchy songs but lost the edge and balls. In 1992 Sinner would rebound with “No More Alibis”, plus future Primal Fear alumni Alex Beyrodt and Tom Naumann are on guitar.
Since 1982 its been constant lineup changes, mediocre songs because of overlap with Primal Fear from 1998 onward. But that 1984-1992 period of Sinner, and his ability to start a new legacy of music with Primal Fear, earns at least a couple Sinner albums, and Mat a place in the Metal Hall of Fame. Plus, Mat also is the musical director/bass for Rock Meets Classic, an often touring super group of musicians who pay tribute to classic rock songs. Guest singers have included Dee Snider (Twisted Sister), Joey Tempest (Europe), Alice Cooper, Robin Zander (Cheap Trick), Ian Gillan (Deep Purple), Lou Gramm (Foreigner), and Jimi Jamison (Survivor).
Sinner – Black (2010). (Music Video). https://youtu.be/KbHF-3yxf2w