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Rhapsody (of Fire) - Symphony Of Enchanted Lands CD (album) cover

SYMPHONY OF ENCHANTED LANDS

Rhapsody (of Fire)

 

Progressive Metal

3.67 | 100 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Ktrout
4 stars Symphony of Enchanted Lands' follows on from 'Legendary Tales' in its revelation of 'The Chronicles of Algalord'. The storyline of the album is best summarized by these opening sentences from the cover slip; "What is told between these pages destined to memories was written by the wise old hand of Aresius of Elgard, witness before God of another incredible epic deed. I will tell you about the brave warrior of Loregard, the son of holy ice, and his search for the legendary Emerald Sword, the powerful weapon of positive force, the decider of destinies of wars and ensurer of peace, the last hope for the salvation of Enchanted Lands..." The whole chronicles may be taken allegorically, in which case themes specific to this album include the struggle between good and evil, duty towards ones people and overcoming the shadows of the past. Musically, the album is power metal, with additional texture provided by baroque musicians and a German string ensemble.

'Epicus Furor' is a short orchestral introduction to the album, an Italian choir carrying the vocal melody. The dynamics of the piece are of a mighty crescendo, exploding into 'Emerald Sword'. This track and the next, 'The Wisdom of the Kings' are both fairly straight power metal, enriched by orchestral and choir accompaniment and frequented by short classical and neo-classical interludes. Worthy of note are Luca Turilli's guitar trills in the first and a pleasant introduction to the second composed for baroque recorder, with acoustic guitar, cello and baroque oboe in accompaniment.

'Heroes of the Lost Valley' is split into two parts. A lush baroque-style arrangement for cembalo (harpsichord), recorder, oboe and cello is introduced by birdsong and the sound of a river, before a passage of narration in which Sir Jay Lansford introduces us to the next part of the story. His words are brought to life in 'Eternal Glory', a stunning piece of music introduced by strong brass chords and ceremonial snare drum. A descending chromatic scale thrusts us into a section of pure power. Fabio Lione's voice is astounding over such an impressive backdrop and the chorus is quite simply something else. The tempo drops towards the middle of the composition, where a gentle melody played by recorder is accompanied by string ensemble. A pause allows the listener chance to draw breath before a magnificent instrumental build up to the apex of the piece, a stunning sweep-picked arpeggio figure from Turilli. A beautiful arrangement, 'Eternal Glory' is one of the highlights of the album.

Musically, 'Beyond the Gates of Infinity' is quite interesting. An eerie, atmospheric passage towards the middle of the piece in which cello is predominant is one of the nicer touches, and Carbonera 's good use of double bass drum adds punctuation throughout the track. Conceptually, it comes across as rather stupid. Crude lyrics, bad singing and dreadful pronunciation make for an especially dire chorus. All things considered, 'Beyond the Gates of Infinity' adds little of any value to the album as a whole.

'Wings of Destiny' contrasts completely with the afore mentioned abomination. The melody is sung emotionally by Lione and carried elsewhere by oboe and recorder, with piano playing a major role in the accompaniment. The piece is played at a slow tempo and is at times very beautiful, which equally describes the introduction to 'The Dark Tower of Abyss', taken from Vivaldi. Full of classical material and brilliant contrast, the music throughout this piece evokes a real sense of place, and an atmosphere of dread. Awesome descending scales on violin are used to dramatic effect, as is the choir in accompaniment of Lione's main vocal melody. 'Wings of Destiny' is more straight forward, an uplifting display of 'happy' power metal at its very best.

The album so far is excellent. A few average tracks punctuated by many fine moments and the wonder that is 'Eternal Glory', as well as the very presence of the narrative which gives all Rhapsody's music so much resonance and depth create for the listener a fantastic experience, easily making up for the shortfalls of the one disappointing track. What follows and concludes the album is a masterpiece. 'Symphony of Enchanted Lands' is episodic yet integrated, presenting to the listener a full range of emotion and colour - rhapsody to the very core. The epic begins with the death of a dragon, the mighty Tharos, ever faithful companion to the warrior of the album's storyline. A bitter lament ensues, Lione's soaring voice accompanied by the towering chords of an organ and a moving string section. Magnanimous guitar and orchestral chords introduce the primary theme and its variations, a great melody backed by a rich orchestral texture. 'Rex Tremende' sees a reinstatement of the voice of Leone, more powerful here than anywhere else on the album in its enactment of the oath of the warrior; "Son of hell, betrayer of light King of the dark, your name is carved on my steel For your will, the innocent die every day But my sword will soon come for you all And your kingdom will fall And you'll be dust again forever" Towards the middle of the piece, the tempo drops and we a treated to the soprano voice of Constanze Backes, accompanied tenderly by piano and strings. The primary theme is once more re-instated, before a sweep picked explosion of sensuality, closing vocal statements and a brief narration. The outro, a sequence played on flute and oboe, accompanied by acoustic guitar strums, fades away leaving the listener with a feeling of awe and appreciation.

Overall, the album is quite excellent, and the final track is surely essential to all listeners of progressive music. If you enjoy music from the classical and baroque periods, and can appreciate the large soundscapes created by their fusion with power metal, you will enjoy the splendor of Rhapsody and the majority of this album.

Ktrout | 4/5 |

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