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Rhapsody (of Fire) - Triumph Or Agony CD (album) cover

TRIUMPH OR AGONY

Rhapsody (of Fire)

 

Progressive Metal

3.51 | 63 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

The T
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars At one point in my life, I owned every single studio album by then-called RHAPSODY. Eventually, for reasons left unsaid, I was forced to let most of them go and ended up in my collection with only my favorite of their records, the original "Symphony of Enchanted Lands." If RHAPSODY was one of the bands I chose to partially got rid of at that time it's because I realized their albums sounded pretty much the same.

Yes, I love the heroics and the epic choruses and the orchestral arrangements and the use of harpsichords/clavicembalos (an instrument that, were it not for this band and others like it, would be completely unknown for many of today's baroque-music-ignoring rock fans.) But I found a problem with most every RHAPSODY album except for the one I mentioned as my favorite: after a fantastic orchestral intro and a terrific anthem-like first song, the subsequent tracks are not in the same level and tend to sound so similar to each other (and to the tracks in the other albums) that the whole experience is somewhat ruined for me.

I will review "Symphony of Enchanted Lands" soon and I'll explain why I think it's the best RHAPSODY album. But focusing in "Triumph or Agony", their first record under the new copyright-forced name, I can say that it shares the same qualities and the same mistakes of most every opus by this Italian band.

We get a terrific orchestral intro. After that, the first song, the title-track, sets us off in an excellent way. The verse is powerful and mighty and the chorus is inspiring. Things don't change that much afterwards, though. We get the obligatory quiet moment with Leone singing over a soft accompaniment in keys; we get a quiet interlude with the harpsichord taking center stage along with some flutes and soft winds; we get the mandatory longest track in the end with lots of purely orchestral-moments and voice acting by different actors, among them the legendary Christopher Lee. In a word: we get the traditional, very enjoyable, RHAPSODY OF FIRE experience. We just don't get anything new.

I don't have anything against bands that repeat successful formulas. If this album had the same amount of great songs as "Symphony of Enchanted Lands", I would rate it higher, even if it wasn't the groundbreaking record that many prog purists always demand. I can tolerate not-so-original music when it is extremely entertaining and when it's perfectly crafted. Sadly, "Triumph or Agony", while certainly perfectly played, does not have enough great choruses or memorable melodies for me to rate it higher.

The playing, as always, is first-rate. The magnificent shredder Luca Turilli returns with more of his wonderful technique, alongside master keyboardist Staropoli and the competent rhythm section. Fabio Leone, a very underrated singer who in my view should be consider among the best melody-singers in metal, gives a terrific performance though not in the same level as in previous albums.

Ridiculous lyrics aside , I love RHAPSODY (OF FIRE), and when I review their best album I will probably give it 5 stars, as I think it is a masterpiece in this style of music. But "Triump or Agony", their latest release, is more than a tad weaker and, though enjoyable, fails to be the awe-inspiring heroic experience of other efforts. 3 stars is what it deserves, as it's still an entertaining, soul-lifting record that, its problems notwithstanding, will never depress anyone who hears it, as this music sings of triumphs, glory and courage.

The T | 3/5 |

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