Rhapsody + Beast In Black + Scarlet Aura @ O2 Academy Islington, London

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Rhapsody + Beast In Black + Scarlet Aura

@ O2 Academy Islington, London

February 26, 2018

Review by Torbjørn ‘Toby’ Jørstad

Photography by Oliver Manso

A Monday night in February saw the final return of Italian symphonic power metal pioneers RHAPSODY to London. Currently on their final reunion tour, the band stopped by the O2 Academy in Islington for a glorious night of uplifting, cheesy power metal, bringing with them support from BEAST IN BLACK and SCARLET AURA.

Romanian female fronted melodic metal band Scarlet Aura have the honor of opening for the night. The four-piece, fronted by vocalist Aura Danciulescu have so far released three albums, one consisting entirely of covers.

The audience doesn’t seem all too into the band’s music, although they did attract a decent crowd (whether that was them or the later band’s is up for debate). The rather quiet crowd put aside, the Romanians give all they have, seem certainly not put off by the “just-got-off work-on-a-Monday-night” London crowd.

A cover of The Cranberries’ “Zombie” is a nice surprise, and Danciulescu does a decent job paying homage to the late Dolores O’Riordan. All in all a good show, albeit perhaps a tad bit generic sounding, but certainly a fitting way of starting the night.

1. Immortal In My Eyes
2. The Beast Within Me
3. My Own Nightmare
4. You’re Not Alone
5. Zombie (The Cranberries cover)
6. Colour Blind

Judas Priest’s “Night Crawler” sounds over the PA, and as the line “beware the beast in black” is sung, the realization of this being Beast In Black’s intro track dawns on me. Sure enough, shortly after the Finnish five-piece takes the stage, tearing into their self-titled song “Beast In Black”, off Berserker.

The energy is high, and the catchiness and uplifting nature of the band’s grand choruses and easy-to-sing-along-to lyrics make it hard to not enjoy their set. The synth-heavy sound is well balanced, and vocalist Yannis Papadopoulos high reaching vocals is easily heard throughout the venue. Guitarist Anton Kabanen also impresses everybody with his screeching, Painkiller-era Halford-like backing vocals.

“Eternal Fire” is as catchy as it gets, and the anthem “Blood of a Lion” would work just as well in a big open air setting as in the small confined space of the O2 Academy. The band plays eight out of 12 songs from their debut album Berserker, released in November last year.

The crowd is seemingly loving every second of the fast, melodic power metal they are served, especially when hit single “Blind and Frozen” is played. Beast In Black have already achieved remarkable success in short time, which stands to prove that solid song writing pays off.

1. Beast In Black
2. Eternal Fire
3. Blood of a Lion
4. The Fifth Angel
5. Born Again
6. Crazy, Mad, Insane
7. Blind and Frozen
8. End of the World

Legendary Italian power metallers Rhapsody need no introduction. Despite numerous line-up and confusing name changes, the band which formed in 1995, is finally calling it a day with their current final tour, which coincides with their 20th anniversary. Original guitarist Luca Turilli back on stage with vocalist Fabio Lione is a dream come true for many, something reflected in the loud cheers as the lights are dimmed and the intro track “In Tenebris” is heard throughout the venue.

“Dawn of Victory” is a solid track to kick off the band’s final London show, and the crowd goes wild for the title track off the 2000 album. What follows is a massive hit parade, and a set list most fans would die to hear. “Power of the Dragonflame”, “Knightrider of Doom” and “Land of Immortals” are only some of many fan favorites of the night. Guitarist Luca Turilli is seemingly enjoying every second, jumping around as he shreds neoclassical melodies.

Lione recalls the band’s time with British actor Christopher Lee (known for playing Saruman in Lord of the Rings, among other roles), who narrated the band’s 2004 album Symphony of Enchanted Lands II: The Dark Saga. Lee passed away at the age of 93 in 2015, and Lione emotionally dedicates the song “Riding the Wings of Eternity” to him.

A major pet peeve of mine are pointless instrumental solos – the kind that is not part of any song, but simply a filler section while the rest of the band goes off stage. Unfortunately, we are given not just one but two, as both a drum and bass solo appear towards the end of their set. Not only does it interrupt an otherwise good flow and pacing, it is outright boring, and provides an excuse for people to force their way towards the bar or the toilets.

Although tonight’s performance is basically Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody featuring Fabio Lione under the common name of Rhapsody, there is nothing to suggest that Rhapsody of Fire, the other band emerging from the 2006 split, led by keyboardist Alex Staropoli, is calling it a day. In fact, that band supported Orden Ogan in the same venue in London last November, and will probably provide news music and gigs to attend for the diehard Rhapsody (of Fire) fans.

Lione shines the most during his rendition of Andrea Bocelli’s “Con te partirò”, showing off an impressive vocal range that cements his role as one of the most influential power metal vocalists. The band finishes their set with “Holy Thunderforce”, before returning shortly after for the inevitable encores. “Rain of a Thousand Flames” sounds fantastic, even without its hilarious music video. “Emerald Sword” tops the glorious cheesiness one final time as plastic swords emerge in the crowd for one final battle with the Italian symphonic power metal pioneers.

In Tenebris (tape)
1. Dawn of Victory
2. Wisdom of the Kings
3. The Village of Dwarves
4. Power of the Dragonflame
5. Beyond The Gates of Infinity
6. Knightrider of Doom
7. Wings of Destiny
8. Riding the Wings of Eternity
9. Symphony of Enchanted Lands
Drum solo
10. Land of Immortals
11. The Wizard’s Last Rhymes
Bass solo
12. Time To Say Goodbye (Con te partirò) (Andrea Bocelli cover)
13. Holy Thunderforce
14. Rain of a Thousand Flames
15. Lamento Enroico
16. Emerald Sword
…And the Legends Ends… (tape)

Facebook: www.facebook.com/ltrhapsody/
Website: www.ltrhapsody.com
Beast In Black
Facebook: www.facebook.com/beastinblackofficial/
Website: www.beastinblack.com

Scarlet Aura
Facebook: www.facebook.com/scarletaura/
Website: www.scarletaura.net