Rhapsody of Fire is an Italian band formed way back in 1993 under the name Thundercross and released a demo called “Land of Immortals” in 1994. In 1995 they switched their name to Rhapsody and started a new musical journey with the demo “Eternal Glory” released on the same year, that brought ‘em a record deal with Limb Music leading to now famous debut “Legendary Tales” 2 years later.
Rhapsody turned lots, lots of heads with their unique style. Standing in a fine cross between power metal the way Helloween (with Michael Kiske) used to perform and embellishing it with plenty of elements from classical music, plenty of narration and samples and generally introducing a film score quality in their sound which was quite unique and unusual for the time. As far as I know they’re the only band claiming to have invented a new genre under the (lame) title “Hollywood metal”. Of course all of the above were combined by superb musicianship in both guitars and keyboards and a singer who seemed to have found an ultimate balance between metal and operatic performance.
A lot of time has passed since then and Rhapsody have certainly an impressive career that features a little bit of everything. Plenty of releases (11 to be exact but not always of similar quality), hundreds of shows, numerous member changes (which led to their original singer for 21 years Fabio Leone quitting the band in 2016 after original guitarist/composer left in 2011), problems with label & management leading to yet another change name change (Rhapsody of Fire as from 2006) just to mention a few.
In 2016 Rhapsody introduced new singer Giacomo Voli and planned a special release for 2017. This is where “Legendary Years” enters. The album’s title seems like a fitting ending for a period starting 20 years ago with “Legendary Tales”. This album actually features new recorded versions from probably their best songs. This is probably the best way of introducing their new front man and same time throwing him instantly on deep waters in order to prove his worth but it is also a statement that current Rhapsody version can play everything from their rich catalog just as before if not better.
I have to confess that while I was always fond of the band I never considered myself a die hard fan. I found the majority of their albums lacking in power that was sacrificed for a more intellectual approach aiming to combine metal and classical music. Plus the fact that the whole concept that the majority of their albums relied on seemed at best little bit childish as far as lyrics go.
“Legendary Years” can be considered as a best off album and it serves that goal perfectly. Rhapsody of Fire appear to be in great form and have no problem reproducing even their most difficult and demanding songs. New singer Giacomo Voli sounds brilliant but also differs a lot from his predecessor. With a more modern and less operatic approach he manages sound convincing and do justice to the songs. Gone is also the characteristic Italian accent and unless this guy actually sings a phrase in his native language no one could ever guess his origins. There are some issues on some operatic parts where he falls a little bit short but that’s to be expected since this guy is utilizing a different vocal approach. And this is an impressive feat on its own since there wasn’t a moment where I was left recollecting Leone’s performances of the past.
There are plenty of highlights here “Flames of Revenge”, “Land of Immortals”, “Emerald Sword”, “When Demons Awake” just to mention a few. Rhapsody of Fire’s performance is flawless all the way and this certainly raises the bar quite high for their next release.
Rhapsody of Fire have returned with what seems is an appetizer for the next effort, which I have the notion will try to make a difference in comparison to their past releases. Till then….
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