Released: 2010, Nuclear Blast
One of my favorite quotes of recent years was ‘Rhapsody of Fire need to stop being Manowar and Manowar need to stop being Rhapsody Of Fire.,” Truer words were never spoke and with the release of THE COLD EMBRACE OF FEAR EP, Rhapsody Of Fire have kept their side of the bargain.
Rhapsody has been pretty productive lately with two full-length studio albums and this EP in a mere 14 months. Back in late June of 2008, the band on their official web-site announced they were indefinitely stopping all activity. I was very disappointed at the time because I’ve enjoyed the band since the early days. However instead of sitting dormant, it’s obvious they spent the last two and a half years writing music and now we have a ton of Rhapsody to enjoy early in this decade.
After countless delays THE COLD EMBRACE OF FEAR EP finally made it’s way to North America with a new copyright date of 2011 instead of it’s original 2010 release date, which bugs me when a record label can’t even get the simple things right. It’s finally here in North America as a great teaser for the new album due (in theory) in June of 2011.
Clocking in at 35 minutes this EP (Like most Rhapsody EP’s, this is longer than your average full-length Death Metal album! Once again Felipe Franco (Blind Guardian, Iced Earth, Blaze Bayley and two dozen more) handles the cover artwork bringing a nice consistency to the image of the bands past few releases. It’s a nice package, full lyrics, artwork, the storyline, photos and so on.
THE COLD EMBRACE OF FEAR is sub-billed as ‘A Dark Romantic Symphony’ and further describes as ‘The Dark Saga Secret Part IV’ which sets us up for this summer climatic finale of the 10 release storyline with the release of FROM CHAOS TO ETERNITY. This EP stands as an epic (is there any other?) piece of music broken into seven parts. It didn’t quite fit on the last album, which was quite a ripping piece of Metal. Swinging the pendulum of steel back the other way this EP gets way more soundtrackish and symphonic.
This is a fantastic piece of work. Headphone worthy to the max, you get majestic narration, soaring vocals, choirs, orchestration, sound-effects; it really is like listening to a book on CD with all the extra parts. It’s far less ‘Metal’ than the last album and the symphonic elements replete with huge female choirs (of angels) douse this album with enough vocal intensity to satisfy any symphonic Metal fan. To enjoy THE COLD EMBRACE OF FEAR, you would likely have to already be familiar with Rhapsody and their long history. To a new or casual listener, it would not make any sense at all. Long time narrator, Christopher Lee is again adding his instantly recognizable vocal tones to the EP, adding even more weight and authority to the proceedings. The song(s) has many tones, tempos and ebbs and flows as we follow the characters through their various trials and tribulations, but ultimately, it is a heady piece of work. I won’t include any spoilers here for those of you who have been following the plot over the years.
This will hold us North American fans (who didn’t shell out the import prices last October) until the penultimate chapter of the saga arrives in the summer.