Released: 2010, Nuclear Blast
So Rhapsody are back – and it appears that I still can’t get used to calling them Rhapsody of Fire – after a four year absence, which mostly consisted of legal wranglings over the use of their sound and name. Can you imagine Joey diMaio appearing in court, giving the judge the sign of the hammer, and telling him that TRUE FUCKING METAL™ (Manowar + Magic Circle) will prevail over the ENEMIES OF METAL™ (Rhapsody) thanks to the BROTHERHOOD OF METAL™ (Manowarriors Worldwide – Enter the Hall™) and the POWER OF STEEL™?
I’ve always harboured a guilty pleasure while listening to Rhapsody and Luca Turilli’s solo stuff, ever since I got KING OF THE NORDIC TWILIGHT on cassette. Their music is so over-the-top, but not in the cringeworthy, hackneyed, repetitive Manowar way. I always had a genuine admiration of their command of movie-soundtrack music, as well as Luca Turilli’s guitar playing, and their elves-and-fairies stuff never bothered me too much. Plus, their silly Italian-accented overdramatic spoken bits were the source of much amusement for me.
THE FROZEN TEARS OF ANGELS is unmistakeably Rhapsody, but updated for 2010. I get the feeling that quite a significant bit of the bombast has been toned down, leaving a (relatively) bare sound that is quite unlike the guys who gave us POWER OF THE DRAGONFLAME and THE DARK SECRET. There are still passé hints of neo-classical symphonia of course – it wouldn’t be a Rhapsody album otherwise – but mostly, the album is focused on the fretboard pyrotechnics of Mr Turilli and the endearingly soaring vocals of Fabio Leone, who, bless him, even throws in a few black metal shrieks on ‘Reign of Terror’ (a move towards Bal-Sagoth territory? We’ll have to wait and see.) The interludes that plagued THE DARK SECRET are seriously pared down, and overall, the songs genuinely flow while punching at the same time. At 53 minutes, it almost feels too short to be a Rhapsody album!
While the partnership of Leone and Turilli, the two longest-serving members, remains as tight and as strong as ever, the band’s relationship with famed English actor Christopher Lee is more unlikely, and yet no less impressive. Once again, Lee does the narration on THE FROZEN TEARS OF ANGELS, bringing his gloriously rich Saruman voice into play. As an added bonus for members of the press, Christopher Lee also does the voiceover watermarks for our promo copies of the album! “Here they are…here they will remain…Mighty, immortal, warriors! Rhapsody!” I notice he too has a problem with calling them Rhapsody of Fire.
If you hated Rhapsody previously, you won’t like this one – their sound has not changed enough for the detractors to change their minds. If you were sort of indifferent to them, you should check out this album – it’s actually a fantastic place to start with their music, and the ‘negative’ and obnoxious elements that they have been accused of in the past are at a minimum here. For hardcore fans who still adore cheesy synthwork, vocal acrobatics, lyrics of questionable sexuality, and Turilli’s guitar-playing, then you, like me, will really enjoy THE FROZEN TEARS OF ANGELS. Impressive semi-‘comeback’, whichever way you look at it.