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


Rhapsody (of Fire)


Progressive Metal

3.71 | 103 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
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.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |


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