Released: 2002, Limb
Rarely is band name so descriptive of the emotions it brings forward. Rhapsody is one of those occasions. For you metal fans who have been living under a rock, Rhapsody is a symphonic speed/power metal band that has in 7 short years gone from deep in the Italian underground to being the one of the most critically acclaimed and respected bands in the genre. This band has just produced another masterpiece, the fourth and final chapter in The Algalord Chronicles. I am so excited because have been following the story since the debut and after what seemed like a long two years since the last full-length the story is complete. I believe this to be Rhapsody’s finest release and indeed my favorite.
Again the productions, arrangements, individual performances and artwork are all nothing less than flawless, and again the band maintains it’s tradition of having a slightly awkward album title. Yes, it is easy to praise the band for maintaining the very high standards they set for themselves very early on; but what about the songs? All the other material (art, production etc) while of the highest caliber, pale in importance to the overall quality of the songs. The songs? One word. Superb.
The CD kicks off with “In Tenebris”, a traditional giant, epic, choral, symphonic vocal arrangement, layer upon layer adding that grandiose feeling of excitement as the final chapter begins! What struck me was the speed of the CD. The first five songs are all very fast songs, with relentless double-kick drumming and thunderous bass-lines, with only track four “The March of the Swordmaster” slowing down, ever so slightly. It has a beautiful acoustic style intro, before racing off again, to be followed by “When Demons Awake” and “Agony is My Name”. Then comes “Lament Erocio” a truly sublime, melodic ballad piece sung in Italian because only the Italian language can express the true beauty of that piece.
The choirs, flutes and orchestra are used sparingly, but to full and maximum effect. Brilliant. The band has achieved the perfect blend of the dark heaviness of DAWN OF VICTORY and the orchestration of SYMPHONY OF THE ENCHANTED LANDS. I cannot get over the intensity and speed of this CD! Some critics felt that VOD was too dark. Well for those who realize that the music on VOD was intended to match the lyrics understand that because of the storyline, involving, capture, torture, escape, and defeat the music HAD to be dark. Consequently the music on POWER OF THE DRAGONFLAME is totally suited to the giant climatic finale of the saga. (often incorrectly referred to as “The Emerald Sword Saga”) What I mean is riffs are “happier” and the song structure more flowing and lighter feeling. Hard to describe but Rhapsody fans and seasoned, power-metal fans will (hopefully) know what I am referring to when I say “happier riffs”.
The CD closes with the stunning, 19 minute track, “Gargoyles, Angels of Darkness”, undoubtedly one of the best, most epic songs I have ever heard. That is high praise I know but keep in mind I have fully bought into the giant 4 CD story and this is the climatic final chapter! You will notice I deliberately did not tell you how the story ends, you will have to listen to it and read it for yourself. Anyway, the final song is an album unto itself with three movements. It has everything, narration, fast parts, slow parts, symphonic parts and just wave upon wave of metal bliss.
Dream prediction…the band in 2004 (10th anniversary) goes on a world tour playing the entire four+ hour story LIVE in it’s entirety with full orchestra (with special effects, costumes, rear screen projection etc) and then release the whole story in a giant, elaborate, 7 disc, box-set with all four full length discs, a bonus disc of B-sides AND a double DVD of the tour…I’d buy it!
I’d better stop this review before it gets anymore sappy. Go buy the damn thing and you will see why it is virtually guaranteed a spot in my Top 10 for 2002. Check out the bands new website too at http://www.mightyrhapsody.com.
Now, I can’t wait now for Part Two of Luca’s Turilli’s solo CD trilogy, The Virtual Odyssey…