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


Rhapsody (of Fire)

Progressive Metal

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5 stars Majestic LP of symphonic metal which perfectly unites metallic cavalcades, inspired keyboards and epic orchestral parts. This collection of anthems ( "emerald sword", "eternal glory",... ) even includes a quite well done ballad contrary to others Rhapsody's LP. Some lively, conquering and exhilarating music. Surely a masterpiece of 90's heavy-metal
Report this review (#32224)
Posted Monday, August 2, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I think the first three albums of this band combined together is a TRILOGY masterpiece. They are: "Legendary Tales", "Symphony of Enchanted Lands" and "Dawn of Victory". I could hardly define which one is the best as all of them are great albums. This album continues the story of the Algalord Chronicles, a fantasy epic created by the band. As I put in my review of "Dawn of Victory" album, the music of this band is not purely a power metal sub-genre (the kind of music pioneered by Germany's HELLOWEEN) but it has a considerable prog elements (the use of orchestra / string arrangements, varieties of shifting tempos PLUS. Well . I never heard the kind of mixture of Rhapsody's music before).

I purchased the CD of this album after I was extremely satisfied with the third album "Dawn of Victory" that represented my first introduction to the band (that I never heard the name before). Again, I was amazed with the music offered by the band: fantastic blend of metal and symphonic orchestra. Well, honestly, first listening I got problems with "dug-u-dug-u-dug" double bass drum style which sound typical to any metal music. But once I got used to it, it worked definitely fine with my ears. For those of you who love classic prog rock like Genesis, Yes, King Crimson of ELP, you may find it difficult to accept the tagline tempo of this kind of music. But, when you pass this test .. BOOM! It's gonna blow you man ...!!! This is the kind of music you'd like to listen to in order to elevate your emotion. Believe me!

As usual, this album is opened with orchestral arrangement "Epicus Furor" that really set the overall tone of the album. It's stunning opening and you should turn your power amps volume high to reach ultimate satisfaction. It flows to higher tempo with the second track "Emerald Sword". This track is really uplifting, showing a great mixture of power metal and excellent string ensembles music. If you like violin / cello instrument in rock, you will definitely like this song. The vocal part by Fabio Lione is great, accompanied by a choirs group that accentuate the song and bring the music to the ultimate power of progressive metal. I personally like the solo guitar combined with violin / cello sounds during the interlude section. It's excellent!

The third track "Wisdom Of The Kings" is opened with nice melody instrumental classical music followed with upbeat metal music and great vocal. Yes, you are ready to the war. It's a kind of music for war, I think. The addition of orchestration in between melody has enriched the music. The interlude part with lead guitar solo is stunning and uplifting.

"Heroes Of The Lost Valley" is a short track with heavy classical music element, great clavinet melody and pan pipe (or sort of it). This track, I think, is designed to create a motivational atmosphere for warriors going to the war field. This serves to be true as the narration says clearly:

"Yes, mighty warrior... what you hear now are the suffering voices of all the heroes that crossed these lands before you. They ended their quest tragically but their thirst for victory is still alive and breathes through these ancient rocks corroded by the fury of the wind. Their pride now rides with you..."

. it continues wonderfully to the next track where the war is really started: "Eternal Glory". WOW ..!!!! What a great orchestration opening!!! It's so stunning! I don't care whether you can accept metal music or not but this opening orchestration is damn EXCELLENT!! (I'm not being generous .. but .. this is true story, no exaggeration at all, believe me .). REALLY GREAT music! The combination of pan pipe and clavinet sounds at the end of this track really blow me! Well ..friends, I'm not gonna review track by track but believe me the rest of tracks are all wonderful. And I think . you have to purchase the CD. You won't regret it! The concluding epic "Symphony of Enchanted Lands" is also top class! Honestly, I keep admiring the masterminds of this album: Luca Turili (guitar), Alex Staropoli (keyboards and orchestration) plus brilliant producers: Sascha Paeth and Miro. Great job, gentlemen! - Gatot Widayanto, Indonesia.

Report this review (#32226)
Posted Thursday, August 12, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars A nice record that i actually don't know how it make it here, anyway... a nice virtuoso album featuring strong medieval influences, but is no more impresive or original than any of the "KEEPER'S OF THE SEVEN KEYS" albums from HELLOWEEN (which happen to be a main influence). To be honest, this record is as far from progressive as Pearl jam is, don't get me wrong, is a great heavy metal album but not a prog one, however is a nice option for the tired ear that like to hear something a little bit itchy and epic.
Report this review (#32220)
Posted Tuesday, August 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
2 stars Do not wasted your time listening to this album. There's no prog element at all. It's just a power metal album. Pure POWER METAL polished with orchestration and operatic choir and so on and so on... If you looking for the REAL symphonic power metal band (and also the BEST!), just listen to NIGHTWISH's album, especially Oceanborn or Century Child. They are much much better than this.
Report this review (#32221)
Posted Monday, August 30, 2004 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars The good, the bad, and the Rhapsody

Rhapsody's second album is nothing more (or indeed less!) than a straight continuation of their first. If like me, you enjoyed the completely over the top pomposity of the first album "Legendary tales", then you are in for a further treat here. "Symphony of enchanted lands" continues the telling of "THE CHRONICLES OF ALGALORD - The Emerald Sword Saga", a story steeped in mythology, heroic battles, and epic fantasy. By this time, we have a hero whose quest we follow as he tries to find the hidden keys which will unlock the Ivory Gates. Somewhere behind these gates is an Emerald sword which will help our hero to restore peace and harmony to the land. While all this is going on, the combined forces of the good guys are fighting an ongoing war against evil forces.

The Chronicles story, and indeed all the lyrics, come from the imaginative and fertile mind of guitarist Lucca Turilli. Had he not been blessed with such musical talent, he would surely have found success as an author. Turilli denies any influence from the "Lord of the rings" books, claiming that he seldom reads. He does however cite Hollywood movies as a major influence, hence the "Epic Hollywood symphonic metal" tag.

The songs on these "Chronicles series" albums do not so much tell the story, as paint pictures to accompany it. While the music superbly reflects the atmosphere of the tale, the rather phonetic delivery of the lyrics makes reference to the story and the lyric sheet essential in order to enjoy the full experience. The tale alone is worth the price of admission!

After the brief operatic opening of "Epicus Furor" we segue straight into the truly magnificent "Emerald sword". This track demands to be played with the volume at eleven, the double speed drums driving incessantly behind one of the most remarkable pieces of symphonic prog metal I have heard. It's the magnificently infectious choruses which grab you here as the all male choir run up and down the scales in true macho fashion. I defy anyone not to sing along at the top of your voice while making suitable arm waving gestures!

The album has its fair share of similar tracks ("Wisdom of the kings", "Riding the winds of eternity", "Eternal glory" etc,), all of which have impossibly fast guitar work, layers of synthesisers, bombastic orchestras and choirs, and soaring choruses. There are however other more diverse pieces. "Heroes of the lost valley" has a folky, medieval feel, and "Wings of destiny" is a delicate ballad, with soft vocals.

Several of the tracks have reasonably complex structures. "Eternal glory" moves from a brief narrated opening through trumpet sounding synths and snare drums to double speed bass drums, then a soaring chorus leading to a violin backed soft vocal section, and a symphonic conclusion. "Beyond the gates of infinity" has echoes of Dream Theater with constant time changes, and a superb synth solo.

The album closes with the epic 13 minute title track. Here the band bring together all their many influences as they move through soft passages, symphonic orchestration, folk music, and of course metallic guitar riffs. This is by far the band's more ambitious track to date and while they largely pull it off, for all its length it is not the best track on the album.

In all, Symphony of enchanted lands" is a highly polished and accomplished album. It finds the band pushing even further into their own unique territory, with stunning combinations of prog metal and symphonic orchestration. Highly recommended.

The story continues on Rhapsody's third album, "Dawn of victory".

Report this review (#32229)
Posted Thursday, June 2, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars I agreed with freehenk´s review: this album is not progressive but surely power symphonic metal with the repetitive, fast and boring (for my taste) drums in several tracks. Some tracks with with classical instruments, however this is not enough to be a prog band. Perhaps it deserves a three to four stars rating for a metal site, but for progarchives it deserves only two stars at most!
Report this review (#32230)
Posted Thursday, June 2, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Much people say, this is not a prog materpiece because is heavy metal, well is true but is better that much prog albums; why? because the songs are a amazing combination of heavy metal, progresive rock and baroque music (like Vivaldi) with the unique touch of Rhapsody.

Epicus Furor: A great intro with complex combination of violins and choir

Emerald Sword: Rock on, the most rocker of the album

Wisdom Of The Kings: The intro of this song is great and the whole song is very good with a verey good vocals and a nice guitar solo

Heroes Of The Lost Valley: This renaissance song make a great atmosphere to the album

Eternal Glory: With this extraordinary song the heavy metal ends and start the progresive

Beyond The Gates of Infinity: Amazing song with good changes of emotions

Wings Of Destiny: This is the classic of the album, a very sad song with a beauty end theme

The Dark Tower Of Abyss: The masterpiece of the album,the begining of the song is so fantastic, and the vocals, and the solos (Turilli and Strapoli make a very short, but very good duel of electric guitar and keyboard).Highly recommended.

Riding the Winds Of Eternity: A nice theme of the brass section in the begining, and the whole song is great (but for me the best is the intro of this song).

Symphony Of Enchanted Lands: What a great song all is great and is the song of the album with more changes and melodys and the midle play again the theme of epicus furor, and the ind of the song is fantastic.(I want to mention the fatastic vocals of Fabio Lione in the first verse).

This is a masterpiece of metalprog music.

Report this review (#37260)
Posted Wednesday, June 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is NOT a progressive rock album, but there's some progressive parts. Even I don't count this album in the progressive music, it's not poor album. Italian way to express english is kind of ridiculous, but Lione's voice is majestic. Turilli is very talented guitarist and his classical parts is wellplayed and sounds somehow fresh. Straropoli is one of the bests keyboardist in the world. His speed and technique is very high.

Epicus Furor: Classical introsong, but includes some progressive parts. 8/10

Emerald Sword: Nothing progressive, but very gripping power metal. 8/10

Wisdom Of The Kings: Same as previous song. 8/10

Beyond The Gates Of Infinity: I Like this song lot. This song starts very creepy and progressive keyboardintro and mad guitar fills it. SO COOL! 9/10

The Dark Tower Of Abyss: This intro is so used, but rest of the song is very listenable. 8/10

Lyrics and song names are amusing, but don't kill the ambience of this album. Classical and majestic. If you like Nightwish you will like this.

Report this review (#75431)
Posted Wednesday, April 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars Why this album is listed here remains a mistery for me. It's just the usual happy (power) metal, yeah, the singer has a lot of range, the instrumental part is also fast and has some good points... but hell, this is not progressive at all! Just listen to the first two tracks... A catchy riff and then... LOL. Happy metal not at it's best (worst), but just because of ridiculous songs like Farewell from Freedom Call, that manages to be even happier than Emeral Sword and sound more ridiculous. Please, listen to it and laugh. If I'd have to rate it in a more subjective form, i'd give this 0 stars (or are negative values allowed? lol) but, I know, it's not a bad power (happy) metal, so im rating it "for fans only". Thoug it's not progressive..
Report this review (#84687)
Posted Monday, July 24, 2006 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#97028)
Posted Friday, November 3, 2006 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
3 stars J.S. Bach, Paganini and Yngwie Malmsteen are guitarplayer Luca Turilli and keyboardplayer Alex Staropoli their favorites so it's no surprise that Rhapsody their music is a blend of classical and metal. After the acclaimed demo tape Land Of Immortals the band released their debut CD entitled Legendary Tales in 1997. On this successor entitled Symphony Of Enchanted Lands (1998) Rhapsody has invited a Russian choir and made use of instruments like the hobo, lute, violin, harpsichord, acoustic guitars, mandoline and the ethnic Russian balalaika. The result is a dynamic and varied mix of classical, symphonic and heavy metal, at some moments very impressive and exciting! My highlights are Eternal Glory (symphonic metal along mellow parts with flute and harpsichord), the compelling ballad Wings Of Destiny (great tension between keyboards and vocals), Riding The Winds Of Destiny (sparkling, often orchestral keyboards, violin and fiery speed metal interludes) and my favorite The Dark Tower Of Abyss, to me this composition sounds like "Vivaldi meets Savatage" featuring a swirling violin-section, biting guitar and powerful drums. Because I don't like heavy metal and prog metal, I have problems with listening to this album when the focus is too much on these categories. But when there is a balance between classical, symphonic and heavy metal, Rhapsody succeeds to generate a lot of excitement to me! My rating: 3,5 stars.
Report this review (#155148)
Posted Tuesday, December 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Rhapsody second album is a continuation of the first album. The album is like you combine Malmsteen, Bach and some Stratovarius here and there. Symphony of enchanted lands continues the telling of The chrolnicles of Algalord - The Emerald Sword Saga.The music here is with fast/slow guitar work, layers of synthesisers, bombastic orchestras and choirs, just listen to Wisdom Of The Kings Symphony Of Enchanted Lands the best pieces from here. What more if you like bands mention above this can give you some pleasure, if you don't like fast guitars or medieval instrumentation here and there stay away. 3 stars for this one, and i think their best so far. Anyway from this one they repeat the same elements to the newer albums, no big difference between them.
Report this review (#158170)
Posted Wednesday, January 9, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The second album from Rhapsody is my favorite from this band. Rhapsody continues the style they started on their debut Legendary Tales. This means bombastic orchestral driven power metal with fantasy/ Fairytale lyrics. I hold Legendary Tales in high regard but Symphony of Enchanted Lands is just a notch better.

Epicus Furor starts the album with a bombastic classical arrangement, it´s very beautiful and when it seques into Emerald Sword it´s so powerful. I´m always blown back in my seat when the doubel bass drums kick in on Emerald Sword. It´s just so great and powerful. The epic and powerful playing continues throughout the album even though it gets a bit too cheesy for me on a song like Wings of Destiny. But on the other hand you´ll have to accept at least a bit of cheese to listen to power metal. I have always listened to this style with an ironic distance. Rhapsody are just so great that I can´t help being faschinated and entranced by them. My favorite tracks besides the aforementioned are Wisdom Of The Kings, Eternal Glory with it´s almost Star Wars like classical intro theme and The Dark Tower Of Abyss which is the most dark and heavy song here.

The musicians playing on Symphony of Enchanted Lands needs to be mentioned as they are all outstanding. Fabio Lione´s vocal delivery is strong and commanding, but he can also sound very emotional ( that´s when it gets a bit too cheesy for me). The two composers Luca Turilli and Alex Staropoli are outstanding musicians. First of all for the ability to compose this music but secondly also for being virtosos on their instruments. I especially enjoy Luca Turilli´s signature sweeping on his guitar, really nice stuff. The drums and bass are also very tight. There are also some folky elements like flute and violin in some of the songs.

The production is otherworldly if you ask me. This is the way metal should be produced. Everything is clear in the soundscape and the production is very metallic and cold. Not all the organic sounding vintage keyboards here. Those belong in another genre, not in power metal. I really like the drum sound too, it´s very powerful.

This album is very recommendable if you like power metal. Normal progressive metal heads might not find this to their liking. It´s very much an aquired taste if you like this genre. I think this album is worth 4 big stars.

Report this review (#162380)
Posted Friday, February 22, 2008 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Symphony Of Enchanted Lands' - Rhapsody (Of Fire) (78/100)

Endlessly aggravating are the people who wilfully dismiss music of this sort as a bad joke due to the cheese and bombast factor. Power metal, like any other genre of music, isn't free from its share of clichés and tropey expectations, not to mention the brand of imagery the sound is best at conjuring in the listener's mind. Not unlike the Roger Moore era of Bond films, when a power metal gets too self-aware and tongue-in-cheek with the tropes, it usually sounds pathetic-- I'm looking at YOU, Gloryhammer! For a band as shamelessly bombastic and trope-enforcing as Rhapsody, a large part of their charm is due to the fact that they do take themselves and their art seriously. Pair that sincere conviction with a fittingly bombastic grasp of composition and energy, and it's not hard to see why Symphony of Enchanted Lands became a go-to album for me when I was first getting into the genre.

Although it's been years since I picked up this album from a record store in Seattle, my opinion has barely changed. The band's enthusiasm for all things fantastical is contagious. The musicianship is exceptionally biting and tight, and their orchestrations are well-befitting the 'symphonic' descriptor. Although I'm not totally certain I'd call Symphony of Enchanted Lands Rhapsody's brightest-shining moment, it would be the most suitable point for any newcomers to get their first fill of the band. For good and bad, all of Rhapsody's defining traits are here. Orchestral interludes ("Heroes of the Lost Valley") are cut between hyperactive neoclassical metal, set alight by one of the most brilliant voices in power metal from frontman Fabio Leone. Although some of the latter work with epics would take them to even-greater heights, Rhapsody's titular "Symphony of Enchanted Lands" demonstrated the band early on as an act fully capable of earning flattering comparisons with many of the Baroque and High Classical composers that influenced them. And, of course, there is "Emerald Sword"; even as one of the album's shorter tracks, the fusion of aggressive speed and classical elegance make it as perfect and immortal a song as Rhapsody have ever created.

Although "Emerald Sword", the similarly epic "Eternal Glory" and bombastic title piece are certain favourites on the album, Rhapsody's musical output here is wonderfully consistent. Even if by the point of "The Dark Tower of Abyss" the formula begins to repeat itself, that rare feeling of much-sought exhilaration never goes away. Much of Rhapsody's sense of classical impressement is thanks to Alex Staropoli's wizardly keyboard work, but the orchestral arrangements themselves feel full-bodied and epic in their scope. Too often do power metal bands try to get away with MIDI synth pocket orchestras, and very seldom does it ever achieve the epic atmosphere the bands strive for. Even beyond the authentic-sounding orchestrations and choral arrangements, Rhapsody demonstrate a power knowledge of classical composition here, and it makes it feel much more than the afterthought it often is in the genre.

For lack of a less-overused term, the truly 'epic' sound on Symphony of Enchanted Lands has lost none of its effect over the years. Considering the substance behind Rhapsody's music, it's actually disappointing that the execution of the album's concept is so weak. Unlike two-thirds of the reviews for this album that I've read, I don't have any issue with the ridiculous Lord of the Rings knock-off high fantasy atmosphere they're trying to create. The story itself (expanded upon in the album booklet) is autistic and impenetrable and I've given up trying to make any proper sense out of it, but the story doesn't need to make sense. What it does is set up a foundation for a host of archetypal high fantasy imagery. Enchanted swords? Check. Generic heroic chosen one? Check. Dragons? Check. Said hero riding on said dragon to fight monsters? CHECK. Tis' safe to say that Rhapsody will never win any Hugo Awards for their contributions to fantasy fiction, but it's easy to tell from the enthusiasm Rhapsody inject into their music that the story means something to them. Enthusiasm is infectious, right?

By all means it should have been, and there are times where I might care what happens to the Ice Warrior and his overgrown lizard, but the voiceover narration just kills it for me. Even when they're ineffective I don't usually let bad voiceovers get in the way of my appreciation for a concept album, but it's impossible when the voiceover is bad to the point of sounding like a [%*!#]ing self-parody. For all of its musical merits, Symphony of Enchanted Lands has the worst voiceover narration I have ever heard on an album. I swear, the lisping narrator sounds like every unfavourable stereotype of Dungeons and Dragons players rolled up into one. I hate bands like Gloryhammer for being contrived and ironic, and love Rhapsody for their sincerity, but when I'm listening to this narrator who sounds like he forgot to take his retainer out before lamenting the fall of the mighty dragon Tharos, the lines between sincerity and parody start to blur. I'd be lying if I said the narration doesn't hurt my appreciation of Symphony of Enchanted Lands; it completely works against the rest of the album's atmosphere. Given that they enlisted the extraordinary Christopher Lee for the mandatory narration on Symphony of Enchanted Lands II six years later however, it's safe to say Rhapsody recognized the error in their ways.

People (metalheads included) tend to be pretty cynical in recent years, and in virtually every sphere outside of power metal, Rhapsody's 'justice and love for all' fantasy-laden idealism is horribly unfashionable. Even the high fantasy folks are into nowadays is generally post-modern and 'edgy'. Where does that leave a story about a warrior and his faithful dragon? Where does that leave neoclassical sweep solos and harpsichords? For those who know, Symphony of Enchanted Lands is a pretty great album in spite of the lispy voiceover, though I'd hesitate to recommend it to anyone who regularly mistakes bombast for inauthenticity without first giving the benefit of doubt.

Report this review (#254670)
Posted Monday, December 7, 2009 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars Some more legendary tales

After the superb and highly original debut album, Legendary Tales, things started to go wrong already with this follow up - but only slightly so, this is still a good album similar in style to the first one. I do feel though that Symphony of Enchanted Lands is more symphonic in the negative sense of being more pompous and bombastic. They did indeed adopt a somewhat bigger sound with this album, probably as a result of having a larger budget, but it is not adding anything valuable to the music if you ask me. I very much liked the fact that they used a smaller string ensemble (violin, viola and cello) on the debut instead of a full-blown orchestra.

Also the addition of a few spoken word passages (of which the debut was thankfully free) makes this album cheesier in comparison. The storyline is indeed very cheesy and it is not wise of them to draw more attention to it than absolutely necessary! Yet another thing that makes the present album less effective is the prolonged running time. The extra ten minutes or so compared to the debut makes the impact of Symphony of Enchanted Lands less powerful to me. By the end of the album I start to feel that I have heard everything the band has to offer.

Some of the features that I liked very much about the debut are still here though even if to a slightly lesser degree; the folky and medieval influences and the Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force-influenced guitar and keyboard play. I personally enjoy the Folk and Neo-Classical Metal aspects of the band much more than the Power Metal aspects (even if I don't mind a bit of progressive Power Metal). Once again both the instrumental and vocal talents and the compositional skills are strong and most of the songs are very enjoyable.

To sum up. This is a good album that is both different from and similar to the debut. In those aspects that it is different it appeals to me less and in those aspect in which it is similar it lacks the novelty of the debut and thus adds little than just more of the same.

I strongly recommend to start with the great debut (and that is all the Rhapsody most people will need, really)

Report this review (#439493)
Posted Tuesday, April 26, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Symphony of Enchanted Lands sees Rhapsody refine and perfect the formula established on Legendary Tales. The classical instrumentation gets to be a little more prominent this time, especially on the epic title track, and we get a bit more narration here and there to help out those who want to follow the story, but otherwise it's essentially more of the same, with just enough variation and musical development to save the album from feeling redundant or unnecessary. If you're going to do Dungeons & Dragons metal, you may as well go completely over the top with it, and Rhapsody pull this off in fine form.
Report this review (#1019597)
Posted Friday, August 16, 2013 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars Italy's Luca Turilli and Alex Starapoli pioneered the new subgenre of symphonic power metal in creation on the 1997 RHAPSODY debut "Legendary Tales" which set their mystical medieval folklore laden lyrics to a unique mix of symphonic classical and baroque music, power metal and Celtic folk that was drawn out to epic scopes and to which the band RHAPSODY has always referred to as film score metal for its high fantasy polished and hard driving operatic sound circus. The band returned the following year to deliver the stellar sophomore release SYMPHONY OF ENCHANTED LANDS which fine-tuned the melding alchemic musical principles into a greater cohesive whole.

One of the main complaints about the debut was that the metal was only intermittent as sprawling classical tinged folk laden symphonic marches swallowed up vast amounts of real estate with only partial metal satisfaction for head banging pleasures. SYMPHONY OF ENCHANTED LANDS more than corrects that and offers a much greater presence of the power metal elements in the vein of classic Helloween augmented with the tighter control of the classical symphonic prowess that makes this second offering a much more energetic listening experience as it traipses through the mystical musical worlds of dragons, orcs, mages and Middle Earth sensibilities.

While RHAPSODY's style may sound cliche by today's standards, this Italian band was the one that kicked off this epic over-the-top symphonic power metal thing. So true that power metal does have its share of cheese and RHAPSODY is no exception with the strident operatic vocals of Fabio Lione wailing over the soaring neoclassical guitar shredding, power metal hooks and Celtic jigs meets J.S. Bach musical interludes but the stellar performances of the musicians pretty much blew everyone else away in the scene during the 90s and with a whopping sixteen guest musicians playing everything from mandolins, balalaikas, oboes and violins to marching drums and harpsichord, it's almost as if this entire performance was done by a group of classical trained musicians moonlighting to their favorite metal style.

The saga begins with the epic soundtrack intro of "Epicus Furor" which not only introduces a Carl Orff sort of classical bombast but displays one of the most epic elements of the entire album, namely the outstanding choir sections that build up the momentum and lead to the metal fury of "Emerald Sword." Different tracks focus on different musical genres as the lead musical flavor. While the "Emerald Sword" rips through the metal orotundity, the following "Wisdom Of The Kings" breaks out the folk melodies that incorporate stellar baroque keyboard stabs into the mix and flawlessly weaves the magic of pastoral lands, metal power angst and classical nights at the opera. Both Starapoli and Turilli trade off with virtuosic neoclassical soloing and Lione delivers a soaring vocal charm that despite being the strongest element of the band's sound somehow fits into the larger scheme of things.

Despite some of the best tracks of RHAPSODY's career such as the thirteen minute progressive closing title track which summarizes the entire album in a mystical amalgamation of the disparate genres presented, the album has its moments that don't quite work so well. While the baroque meets folk interlude "Heroes Of The Lost Valley" starts off as a sweet soiree of a folk meets baroque encounter of the days of yore, the narrative part brings out all the cheese with some contrived poetic prose that sounds like an intro to a video game tutorial. However despite a few moments where the cheese factor is turned up to ridiculousness, for the most part it's tamped down in favor of some intricate melodic interplay of the main instrumental prowess of guitar, keyboards, bass and drums with the army of supplemental sounds mainly serving the introductory parts.

Despite more emphasis on the power metal, by no means was this at the cost of the symphonic classical elements nor does it mean the folk and other instruments have been diminished one bit. It's just that things had been integrated into a much larger picture that fits into the grandeur of the epic tale at hand. RHAPSODY were the masters of alternating between heavy bombastic metal and lush classical passages and back again with elements of folk, vocal choirs and even symphonic prog that keeps the music interesting enough for repeated listens as it chugs along and then at the drop of a hat smoothly drifts around like a feather on a zephyr breeze. RHAPSODY developed their unique style early on but on SYMPHONY OF ENCHANTED LANDS, the band created a more mature version of it and would remain amazingly consistent in their run of albums that followed. Better in many ways than the debut but a few speed bumps keep it from being perfect as well.

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Posted Tuesday, March 19, 2019 | Review Permalink

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