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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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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars A tale of the dead. and the living dead!

Discounting the interim release "Rain of a thousand flames" (although musically there is little reason to do so), "Power of the Dragon Flame" was Rhapsody's fourth and final element in their "CHRONICLES OF ALGALORD - The Emerald Sword Saga". For those who have followed the story so far, things are not going so well. Our hero, the Warrior of Ice, is physically and mentally scarred by his experiences, but must continue his quest to regain the Emerald Sword. Things are not helped by the fact that the living dead have now been released! While there is of course a happy ending, there are plenty more twists and turns along the way, including the death of some significant characters.

Whether you chose to start here with Rhapsody, or with any of the previous albums, what you will find will be essentially the same, and you will either like it or loathe it!

As usual, the album opens with a brief introductory fanfare in the form of "In tenebris", which quickly plunges straight into the frantic Epic Symphonic Hollywood metal (as the sticker on the box likes to describe it) of "Knightrider of doom". "Knightrider.. " is typical of many of Rhapsody's songs with an up-and-down-the-scales sing-a-long chorus. Indeed, the following (title) track is a direct continuation. Rhapsody could easily be accused of going to the well once too often, and indeed they do tend to plagiarise themselves quite regularly (The chorus of "The march of the swordmaster" here is almost identical to "Village of dwarves" from "Dawn of victory") , but the music on each album is so well composed and produced that such criticism would be churlish.

Once again, as on the previous album, the orchestration is less to the fore than on the first two albums, with a slightly rawer feel to the music. There is of course the usual diversity to the album which critics of the band so often overlook. " Lamento Eroico" is a stunningly beautiful ballad, sung unusually for the band despite their nationality, in Italian. The fine vocal is complemented by some excellent piano. " When Demons Awake" has some death metal like verses which call and answer, although the chorus is reassuringly anthemic. "Agony is my name" includes some female operatic vocals and some great guitar work, with the double paced drums being interrupted from time to time by brief quieter passages. It is a truly awesome track. "Steelgods of the Last Apocalypse" includes an interesting synth and guitar duet.

The albums closes with the ambitious 19 minute track "Gargoyles, Angels of Darkness". The track opens with a couple of soft classical guitar pieces, the first being written and performed by Rhapsody producer Sascha Paeth. The second, written by Luca Turilli and performed by Johannes Monno has a haunting female vocal accompaniment. The track then moves through a number of phases in true prog fashion, with some (unintentionally) amusing narration, and powerful choral sections. One again, the orchestration is less obvious, but the track climaxes with a with mighty vocals and anthemic choruses, reflecting the positive outcome to the story. The track closes with a reprise of the opening track, "In tenebris". While its good to see Rhapsody pushing their own boundaries, the track is perhaps rather over ambitious, and doesn't entirely work.

It is easy with Rhapsody's album to overlook the folk and classical influences on their music. When asked, guitarist and co-main composer Luca Turilli cited Vivaldi and Paganini as his main classical influences. The significance of the ongoing story line too, should not be underestimated. Many people will simply listen to the albums, without taking the time to extract the full benefit by understanding the ongoing concept. While the lyrics of the songs attempt to reflect the tale, the phonetic delivery of the lyrics can make it difficult at times to follow. Thankfully, the wonderfully illustrated booklets which accompany the albums include extensive narratives and Tolkien like maps together with superb artwork, which all serve to complete the picture.

And so at last, after four magnificent albums, this epic saga is drawn to a close.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |


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