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Rhapsody (of Fire) - Legendary Tales CD (album) cover

LEGENDARY TALES

Rhapsody (of Fire)

 

Progressive Metal

3.73 | 130 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Introducing our new hero

Rhapsody make symphonic progressive metal (or symphonic epic Hollywood metal as it says on the label) of the highest quality. Bands like Symphony X and Stratovarius offer a similar style of music, but for me Rhapsody have no equals. This is my sort of music. It is pompous, over the top, perhaps even pretentious, but it's also exciting, original, and most of all loud!

Let me say upfront, this music will not suit many of those who participate in this site, it is not traditional prog. Indeed, the age old debate about whether the music is prog or not will run and run, but for me enough of the ingredients are here. The only thing I would say is that the double speed drums which are often present in prog metal, are very much a part of Rhapsody's sound.

Rhapsody were formed in Italy by guitarist Luca Turilli and keyboard player Alex Staropoli out of the ashes of their former band Thundercross. Turilli was lead vocalist with Thundercross, but Fabio Lione (ex Labyrinth) was brought in to be lead vocalist for Rhapsody. After recording a number of demos, they were signed up by a studio in Germany, where they recorded their first album. The band took several years to reach the point where their debut album was ready to be released, resulting in a piece of work far more accomplished than most bands will manager in their entire careers.

"Legendary Tales", released in 1997 was the first in a planned series of four albums telling a convoluted story. For those who have the interest, the story (THE CHRONICLES OF ALGALORD - The Emerald Sword Saga) is available in all its glory in the booklets accompanying the albums, and also in full on the band's website (http://www.mightyrhapsody.com/index2.html). To go into any sort of detail here would take far too long, but the tale is along the lines of a darker "Lord of the rings". It is steeped in Nordic mythology, with good vs. evil, epic journeys and encounters, and blood thirsty battles. There are also clear references to Arthurian legend, with a wizard, a "black king" (knight?) and a place called Ancelot (i.e. Lancelot without the L!) For those familiar with Todd Rundgren's album "Ra", there is a passing similarity in the story with "Singring and the glass guitar".

"Legendary tales" sets the scene, and introduces us to our hero, a formidable Nordic warrior. His twin challenges are to lead a combined army into battle, while simultaneously locating keys which will allow him to gain access to a legendary sword. Legend has it that the sword will bring peace and stability to the troubled lands of Algalord. In terms of a concept, Rhapsody's series of albums are perfect. If only all concept albums were this inspired!

Musically, this is a superb prog rock album. We have the quasi-operatic intro of " Ira Tenax" which bursts straight into the pounding beat of "Warrior of ice". There we find symphonic orchestral breaks, melodic vocals, he-man power choruses, softer passages, orchestra and harpsichord exchanges, fantasy lyrics, and plenty of time changes, all in the first seven minutes!

As the album develops, there are more than the usual (for Rhapsody) soft and quirky sections. The largely acoustic "Forest of unicorns" has some fine delicate singing, with interludes of Steeleye Span like folk. "Virgin skies" is a serene mixture of harpsichord and flute, with some pleasant orchestration, while "Echoes of tragedy" has an anthemic male vocal chorus to complement the soft orchestrated start.

There are of course plenty of the more typical Rhapsody pieces. "Flames of revenge" and "Lord of the thunder" both have fine have examples of the band's superb power choruses. With the distinctive orchestration used by the band, these tracks have the feel of a turbo powered Electric Light Orchestra playing prog based music.

It has to be said that some of the impact of the lyrics can be lost at times through their phonetic rendition, but the accompanying lyric sheet and the website story allow the listener to follow the story with ease (should they be so inclined). Some of the melodies are perhaps not quite as strong as on later albums, and symphonic overtones are relatively subdued. While "Legendary tales" was the band's first album, there isn't really any overriding reason to start here, each album stand up in its own right. It does however represent an excellent first outing for the band, and is highly recommended to those who enjoy symphonic prog metal.

The album is completed by some fine artwork, and a well presented booklet with full lyrics and narrative.

The story continues on Rhapsody's second album, "Symphony of Enchanted lands".

Easy Livin | 4/5 |

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