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Rhapsody (of Fire) - Symphony of Enchanted Lands II - The Dark Secret CD (album) cover


Rhapsody (of Fire)

Progressive Metal

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5 stars ....oh my god

It's just too big, too epic for the very mortals we are. Gives me shivers to every listening. Amazing story, the voice of Christopher Lee, true epic choruses, jaw dropping solos of any kind (even flute and hapsichord)...not the heaviest nor the most accessible but easily the most complete and engrossing....

an absolute must buy

Report this review (#32859)
Posted Wednesday, September 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars I think this album is a masterpiece that all rhapsody fans should buy, it is an epic powerful album and the music leads you to fantasy places and situations as always rhapsody did. the modification in unholy warcry is cool too, the only negative thing for me is that fabio sang very loud in some songs, but i think its because the theme of those songs lyrics, RHAPSODY, THE BEST!. GREETINGS TO ALL FROM ARGENTINA.
Report this review (#32860)
Posted Sunday, October 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I almost reluctant to buy the CD of this album because I was not really into the band's previous album: Power of The Dragon Flame. Yes, the band blew my mind the first time I listened to their third album "Dawn of Victory" that led me to buy their 1st and 2nd album. I even bought the boxed set of Dawn album. But their follow ups with 4th and 5th albums were not up to my expectation - too much choirs, less music. But, lots of friends recommended me to enjoy this album as it brings back the sound of their previous albums. When I looked at the album title, I remembered clearly their second album "Symphony of Enchanted Lands" was. (see my review of the second album). And this album is like a kind of "the saga continues .." of the SoEL (2nd album).

When the CD arrived on my hands last week, I was still overshadowed by the fear of hearing too much choirs of Dragon album. That's enough to give me a sort of struggle the first spin of this CD. I then kept repeating it and .. ghusszzzzz ..there are a lot of catchy melodies throughout this album!! As usual, the mastermind of Rhapsody comprised of two gentlemen: Luca Turili (guitar) and Alex Staropoli (keys and orchestration). The significant change is the disappearance of their previous producers: Miro and Sascha Paeth. Actually, I was wondering the quality of this album without the hands of these gentlemen. Their reputation was really good as they also produced albums of KAMELOT "Karma", "Fourth Legacy", "Epica" and other power metal bands. Probably, the two were very busy with AINA (metal opera). So, here they are .Luca and Alex are the producer of this album. The result? It's a TRUE MASTERPIECE!

Let's have a look the saga in a little bit detail .. [just a little reminder for those of you who are new to the band: Please don't expect the band would sound like DREAM THEATER, SYMPHONY X, ICED EARTH, ICE AGE, THRESHOLD, etc even though all of them are pigeon holed under progressive metal sub-genre!! Rhapsody music is a blend of power metal and a heavy influence of classical music with powerful orchestration. Sometimes the music shifts to quieter moods giving a certain balance to it]

"The Dark Secret" kicks off with a narration by Mr. Christopher Lee to set the whole tone of the album. It's backed with an atmospheric orchestra and it continues with a choir and symphonic orchestra that reminds me to Lord of The Rings movie. It's good enough for the listener to enjoy the nuance of the saga the band is going to perform ..

It continues seamlessly to the opening of "Unholy Warcry" with soaring orchestration and power metal beat demonstrated by the double bass drum sounds and rhythm guitar. The music is very emotional and ambitious, but not too technical. Fans of melodic metal and power metal could like this kind of music. In the middle of the track there is a short narration again followed by guitar solo by Luca. The melody is really memorable because it's so catchy, augmented with great orchestra at background.

Having finished with an upbeat mood it then continues with a classical and moody intro of the third track ""Never Forgotten Heroes". What a great orchestra! (listening to this intro, it reminds me to the journey through the Two Towers of Lord of The Rings movie). There is a beautiful transition before the music turns to a faster tempo. Keyboard sound is stunning and melodic!

"Elgardīs Green Valleys" a short track with wood wind instrument takes melody augmented with violin / accordion. It sounds a traditional music with classical touch. It flows to "The Magic Of The Wizards Dream" in a ballad style. This track is very accessible to most people as it's performed in a slow mood with nice melody and stunning orchestra at background. Oh man ..the orchestration is really great!

"Erianīs Mystical Rhymes" is relatively long track opened by an act as demonstrated by a growling sound of male voice. It continues with orchestration that brings the music in power metal mood and maintaining the orchestra. At the ending part of the track, Luca presents his lead guitar work accompanied with Alex's keys. The inclusion of narration at this part is also excellent, accompanied with great piano and light orchestra.

"The Last Angelsī Call" moves the music into higher tempo with great clavinet work at the intro part. The interplay with lead guitar and light orchestra is stunning. In "Dragonland's Rivers" the band presents the nuance of people talking at the edge of a river followed by melodic and classical wood wind (pan pipe) work. It reminds me to Scotland's trad music. You must enjoy this track; it's wonderful.

"Sacred Power Of Raging Winds" is probably the most power metal music compared to the others in terms of tempo; it's performed in speed with excellent transitions. The instrumental part in the middle of the track is amazing! It's performed not in typical power metal tempo. Very very very nice ..!!!! The keyboard solo accompanied with woodwind and violin are really stunning man .!!! Try this out! This track is my favorite. (It reminds me also to the work of YNGWIE MALMSTEEN work with an orchestra).

"Guardiani Del Destino" is a melodic mellow track with trad music touch and fascinating woodwind and acoustic guitar. "Shadows Of Death" is an upbeat track with excellent guitar and keyboard solo augmented with a narration and light orchestra. "Nightfall On The Grey Mountains" concludes the album in a relatively medium tempo. Great ending! (musically .)

This album is a TRUE MASTERPIECE. GW, Indonesia.

Report this review (#32861)
Posted Friday, December 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars The return of the dark forces

With Rhapsody's vivid imagination and wonderfully named albums, it seems strange that they decided to simply entitle this their latest (at time of writing) album with the same name as their second album, with the suffix 2. The album is subtitled "The dark secret", the name already having appeared on the EP which preceded this album.

With the four CD "Emerald sword" saga having come to a happy ending on the previous album "Power of the Dragonflame", all has been well for many years in the land of Algalord. However, dark forces are always lurking, and this album opens the book on a new story in the "CHRONICLES OF ALGALORD". There is no indication at this stage how many albums it will take to tell the story of "The dark secret", but this opening chapter leaves serious problems to be resolved!

Rhapsody essentially revolves around the story telling, lyric writing, and guitar work of Luca Turilli; the composition, keyboards, and orchestral arrangements of Alex Staropoli, and the distinctive vocals of Fabio Lione. Should any of these three chose to move on, the impact would inevitably be significant. The rhythm section however tends to be somewhat transient, and thus we have another change of bass player for this album, with Patrice Guers stepping into the role.

At almost 73 minutes long, and given the frantic pace of much of Rhapsody's music, "SOEL2" has the feel of at least a double album, if not more!

Musically, this could well be the band's best album yet. It is highly accomplished, with slightly less emphasis on the metal, and more on the operatic and symphonic overtones. This time, the choirs are bigger, the orchestra is bigger, and there is an army of guest performers. Since the album is considerably longer than previous releases, the band use the additional space to develop the tracks further. Given the unintentionally amusing nature of the brief narratives on previous albums, legendary horror actor Christopher Lee adds his distinctive voice to tell the story here. This further emphasises the Hollywood aspect of the Epic Hollywood Symphonic metal tag.

"SOEL2" opens with the unmistakable dulcet tones of Christopher Lee setting the scene over some lush orchestration. There is the feel of a old Hollywood horror film, where the pain and sadness are overwhelming. As the atmosphere builds, we are suddenly thrown into the familiar (for Rhapsody) fanfare opening to "Unholy warcry". This magnificent song has all the Rhapsody trademarks. Swirling orchestration, frantic verses, and mighty choruses are complemented by a softer, slower section, and further narration.

There is the usual diversity to the album, the folk influences being particularly noticeable on tracks such as "Elgardīs Green Valleys" and "Guardiani Del Destino". The latter has several moods, including operatic ballad, and some fine, ambient female vocals. The ballad side of the band is further represented by the powerful and beautifully atmospheric "The Magic Of The Wizards Dream". The band's signature songs with frantic verses and majestic choruses are present in abundance of course, but in general terms the beat is not quite so heavy, and the orchestration stronger. The closing track, "Nightfall On The Grey Mountains" sums up the album nicely, with a dramatic horror film like church organ, swirling orchestration, and grand choirs.

Rhapsody have their doubters and naysayers of course. Many purists find it all too easy to cast doubt on the credibility of their music. The band do however clearly go to great lengths in crafting their albums, putting considerable thought into the concept and the structure of the music. The results will never be to everyone's taste, particularly in view of the strong metallic influences. For me though, they make excellent albums with a strong prog basis, while imparting a considerable amount of fun, this is feel-good music.

Report this review (#39739)
Posted Monday, July 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I can't believe people think Rhapsody's songs are all the same... All songs have the same guitar technic, but that's all.

This is the most classical-oriented album, and that blows my mind (i love classical music). It olso have celtic melodies (i also love celtic music) although previous albums had plenty of that.

The story line is also the best of the 6 albums, and Cristopher Lee's voice add something very special wich puts you in the story.


Report this review (#50006)
Posted Tuesday, October 4, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Over the Top? Yes Cheesy lyrics? Yes Been done before? Possibly Good Music? Yes Fun? Yes Interesting/Different? I say Yes. 5 stars?!?! essential? NO I'd say around 3.75 stars.

This is a pretty sweet album. Every time I listen to it, I am in another world. Its kind of like that kid reading The Neverending Story :) its a fantasy- its an adventure.

Fans of Progressive Metal, Fantasy Metal, or whatever- this is quallity stuff.

Reccomended if you like Dragonland, Dragonforce, and possibly Symphony X.

Report this review (#64318)
Posted Wednesday, January 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars If you want great lyrics, this is certainly the wrong place to look. Rhapsody`s lyrics are bad even for a power metal band.

It seems to me that Rhapsody never renew themselves much. There is nothing here I haven`t heard done better by them before. Luca Turilli is one of my favourite guitarists, and he does a great job on this one, as always. I have never been a fan of Fabio Lione`s high pitched vocals but on "The Magic of The Wizard`s Dream" his singing is outstanding. It is one of my favourite tracks on the album, a beautiful opera-inspired ballad that leaves goosebumps on my skin every time I listen to it. When you hear Christpoher Lee`s backing vocals you will understand what I mean. "Dragonland`s Rivers" is another great track. It is ironic that the two songs that stand out as the best ones are both ballads, when Rhapsody is a power metal band. The faster tracks lacks originality and substance. They bore me, and after a few spinnings of this I wanted to throw my copy out of the window. If it haven`t been for the amazing cover art I probably would. The narration by Christpoher Lee adds an extra dimension to the story, but I soon grew tired of listening to him too. The story is about good versus evil, bad demon knights and black books, where the cliches roam. If you want great lyrics, this is certainly not the right place to look. Rhapsodys lyrics are bad even for a power metal band. Occasionally I take Symphony of Enchanted Lands II out of my record shelf to give it another try, with the same result every time: I get bored, and change cd. I love some of Rhapsody`s earlier works (ecspecially Lengendary Tales), and Luca Turilli`s solo albums, but I find this one boring. It sounds as Rhapsody is supposed to sound, but less interesting then they do when they are at their best.

Report this review (#75143)
Posted Sunday, April 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars My true rating is 2,5 stars , this album is so-so. It was the weakest Rhapsody album I've ever known. It dissapointed me. I really donīt know the "greatness" people saw in this album. Surely some said itīs good just because itīs Rhapsody There was too much narration ( I suggest they did an opera instead, follow Edguy's Tobbias Sammet Avantasia's example), the introductions to the songs were too long and boring (here's the enticement). Only half of this album is good and acceptable. One half contains average , bold or boring tracks. I used to like the last track , but now I put it in the bad half. I realized it's not that wonder. The main metal element missed in quantity: guitar. Yes , he does some good solos. However,it happpens only in 4 songs (there are 12 overall) Here comes the worthy ones:

Unholy warcry ; Erian's Mystical rymes -> They have the best and beautiful chorus in the album.

The last angels call - > The riffs aren't so evident ,but the melody is interesting. Some harphiscord is used.

Shadows of death - > It contains the best keyboard / guitar work in the album. It 's not bad , but the song structure is a bit messy to me.

Never forgotten heroes - > It's the second piece where Alessandro Staropoli shows himself better virtuously in keyboards. It has some feminine chants . Luca Turilli plays a simple guitar solo here that doesn't call attention.

The magic of the wizard's dream is ok , but I say :metal what? Even a ballad in this genre must have the minimmun use of electric guitar (even calm) Guardiani del Destino is sung in italian and I reccomend you to skip it. Rhapsody forgot metal in here too. This song is pure garbage.

Tracks 4 has some violin and flute that fit with medieval era. . Track 8 is slow too with flute and harphiscord. These two previous tracks were unnecessary to me. Where is the metal? (again) Luca Turilli has good techniques, but heīs not a guitar hero for me. The variations of his solos arenīt as good Stratovariusīs Timo Tolkki.

Hear my advice: if you want to listen to a truly good Rhapsody album buy Dawn of Victory . 1000 times better. Let this 2004 release be the last in your listening list.

Report this review (#76395)
Posted Thursday, April 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars Admittedly I'm not a fan of opera but I like metal without being a metal purist at all, and of course I love Prog. What Rhapsody is offering us here can be called someting like a metal opera. I've to say there was a time I found this type of music appealing and therefore I was buying this CD two years ago. After a few listens it moved back to the shelf because I found many other things much more interesting. Just now I decided to grap it again to see whether I still can enjoy it. But what a bad experience, I listened to it once and found most of it alienating. So I gave it a second chance when I've been in a different kind of mood and still, there were only few moments I could support. I don't know how to express it, it's just blatantly overblown stuff, so much hilarious (especially when the "beast" shows up), all those overblown passionate vocals and even the instrumental parts can't equalize them. This is a kind of music which might be appealing for a couple of spins but nothing which passes the test of time. I don't know yet if I'd still like their other previous releases (and I used to like them years ago) but I'll try (if I find some courageous moment). I can just say that this record isn't at all essential Prog, let alone a masterpiece and I even couldn't call it good at all. I would say it's for fans only (or for fellows preferring overblown metal-opera stuff) thus my 2-stars rating.
Report this review (#95273)
Posted Friday, October 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Featuring the legendary Christopher Lee on narrator duties, Symphony of Enchanted Lands II begins the second major Rhapsody saga - The Dark Secret, a sequel to the Emerald Sword Saga which had dominated their previous albums. The shift to a new saga seems to have been accompanied by a shift in compositional approach - whilst previous Rhapsody albums were very busy affairs (and indeed could be accused of being over-busy at points), here the band give the various elements of their music a bit more room to breathe - the symphonic parts get a chance to sprawl a bit further, but there's still enough power metal excitement to prevent things from getting boring. Overall, then, the band seem to be experimenting with slightly slower pacing here, which may turn off some long-term fans but for my part I think it shows their continued commitment to ongoing musical development.
Report this review (#1025541)
Posted Friday, August 30, 2013 | Review Permalink

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