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Rhapsody (of Fire) - Power of the Dragonflame CD (album) cover


Rhapsody (of Fire)


Progressive Metal

3.43 | 95 ratings

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3 stars Since 2000's Dawn of Victory, Italian power metal heavyweights Rhapsody had started to shred the symphonic influences off their music, veering towards a more traditional neoclassic power metal sound. Released in 2002, Power of the Dragonflame takes a further step in this direction, to the point that this is probably the heaviest and darkest of the five albums released by the band since their inception.

Things start off fast and powerful after the obligatory choral intro. "Knightrider of Doom" showcases all the best qualities of Rhapshody, from the thunderous rhythmic section, to the fast yet melodic riffs of mastermind Luca Turilli, to the spectacular vocals that climax in an epic chorus sustained by heroic backing vocals. The classical and acoustic instrumentation that one can find on Rhapsody's earlier albums play a lesser role here as on the rest of the album. The Baroque overtones are also less prominent and as a result the album feels more direct and aggressive than the previous ones. At times, the influences of classic metal bands like Manowar surface quite prominently, like in the powerful "The March of the Swordmaster" or "When Demons Awake". These tracks could have been lifted off Manowar's epic album The Triumph of Steel and are among the best offerings of this record, albeit slightly derivative in sound.

Elsewhere, Rhapsody's penchant for operatic drama shines in all their glory, like on the superb ballad "Lamento Eroico". Sung entirely in Italian, this is probably the best ballad ever written by the band, with a style that conjugates the power of metal with the drama of opera, exploding in a majestic chorus that you'll want to singalong to at full volume. There's a slight dip in the album's quality from this point on, which is only partly redeemed by the 19-minute long closing track "Gargoyles, Angels of Darkness". As many other Rhapsody's suites, this song presents highs and lows. It has a great acoustic intro that nicely develops into a more metallic section. However, things lose steam quickly afterwards and the over-acted narration that is woven around the sung parts eventually kills the song's mood for me.

Yet, this is probably one of the most fun and straight up records from Rhapsody. It's energetic and packs a hell of a punch, but it also has good melodies and great epic vibes. It's a worthy conclusion to the Emerald Sword saga that the band had started on their debut album (although, believe me, you may want to ignore the lyrics because there is some Manowar-level cheesiness in there). The only problem with this album is that the steady progression towards a heavier and faster sound has progressively reduced the difference between Rhapsody and the rest of the classic/power metal scene. In fact, every time I spin this album my first reaction is to go and grab Manowar's The Triumph of Steel. That's not a bad thing necessarily, but it goes to show how Rhapsody's sound has gradually grown derivative over the years.

lukretio | 3/5 |


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