RHAPSODY OF FIRE - AN EPIC DISCOGRAPHY

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Here to talk about the Epic Discography of Rhapsody of Fire, a glorious Power epic metal Italian band.

People like me who started listening to metal at the end of the 90s have very often had the subgenre of power as their first approach, a little for the melody and a little for the presence of objectively fascinating covers. So for me, the entry into the world of hard music was accompanied by two names, Labyrinth and Stratovarius, and I was lucky enough to attend a concert (my first for this genre) in Florence. The first to perform was a Finnish group with only one album to their credit but great potential, Sonata Arctica (my God, what were you?) and soon after, much more acclaimed, the unknown to me Rhapsody... Oh my what they weren't, and how good the singer was... and what's more they were Italian like me (I would find out later that Labyrinth was too)...

Thus began my journey into the fantastic world of this band, a journey made of ups and downs, of glory and abandonment, a journey that I will now try to do again together with those who will have the patience to read my post.
I will concentrate essentially on the classic Rhapsody and then on those of Alex Staropoli, while as regards Luca Turilli maybe I will do a separate post later (including also the recent line-up set up with Fabio Lione).
Finally, I apologize if I will gloss over the last issue a bit, but its still being fresh does not allow us to have an overly objective idea of ​​it, even though it is extremely positive at the moment.
So put on your armor, take your sword, your steed and follow me.


LEGENDARY TALES (1997)
Debut for the creature by Luca Turilli and Alex Staropoli and the first chapter of the "Emerald Sword Saga", a powerful power metal but rich in melody, keyboard textures, folk suggestions without forgetting a healthy dose of epicity that it emerges clearly already in the opener "Warrior of Ice", which allows us to appreciate the enviable vocal spectrum of Fabio Lione. The album is a real container of classics, from the direct "Rage of the Winter" to the folk ballad "The Forest of the Unicorn", from the violent "Flame of Revenge" to the anthemic "Land of Immortals", passing through the solemn "Echoes of Tragedy".


SYMPHONY OF ENCHANTED LANDS (1998)
The wonderful album with a blue cover and the red dragon, the album of confirmation and, above all, the national anthem of all lovers of fantasy, role-playing and adventure, "Emerald Sword", with an infectious refrain, epic and irresistible. And the rest is certainly no less, "Wisdom of the Kings", "Eternal Glory", "Riding the Winds of Eternity" and the ballad "Wings of Destiny", to name a few, are real anthem and relief for the hearts of the most dreamy metalheads. The long title track at the bottom of the lineup is thrilling, perfectly balanced (which will unfortunately fail later) in its various moments, now melancholy, now festive and now solemn, truly very successful, a perfect seal of an impeccable work... and the best is yet to come.


DAWN OF VICTORY (2000)
From the cover in red tones and with a lot of warriors in the foreground we understand that something is changing. The sounds are in some ways heavier and the epic component is accentuated on the typically power one, as evidenced by the solemn and fast title-track as a opener, further enhanced by the subsequent "The Triumph for my Magic Steel". And if "Village of Dwarf" revives the folk component with a medieval ballad with a fast-paced rhythm, the single "Holy Thunderforce", as aggressive in the verse as damned epic in the unforgettable chorus, makes us understand the degree of maturity of the group. It is no coincidence that the story here is turning for the worst, with our hero seriously risking his life and fleeing the enemy near death while all his friends are brutally murdered, all this while the last notes of another great, great record.


RAIN OF A THOUSAND FLAMES (EP) 2001
Born as a stopgap waiting for the new album, this EP (42 minutes !!!!) accentuates the dark and evil component that began to breathe in the third album, narrating the tragic events following the takeover of the bad guy. The result, in truth, is rather disappointing, given the great merits of the triplet of past records: songs expanded beyond belief, with lots of questionable narrated parts inside, most of which leave little or nothing in the listener's mind, except for the excellent title-track, which was very successful. Curious the reference to "Phenomena" of the Goblins with "Queen of the Dark Horizons" and the long "The Wizard's Last Rhymes" which refers to the Symphony of the new world of Dvorak.


THE POWER OF THE DRAGONFLAME (2002)
The PERFECT record. Perfect as sound, as performance and as songs, the perfect closure of the saga and pride for the Italian Heavy metal. The widely matured band mixes the best elements of their sound properly by proposing a work of rare beauty, as powerful and epic as it is aggressive in the right moments. We applaud the epic opener "Knighter of Doom" as well as the solemn tearful epic of the title track. The martial "March of the Swordmaster" is magnetic (based on a traditional theme which, curiously, was also used by Angelo Branduardi for his "Donna I want to sing"... not exactly the same subject), as poignant in its elegiac splendor. "Lamento Eroico" (which inaugurates the trend of songs sung in Italian). Surprising is the blind fury of "When Demons Awake", Lyon's black-like screaming is unsettling (it actually had to be sung in another way, but it was liked so much that in the end the "Demo" version won... luckily). The album closes the long "Gargoyles, Angels of Darkness", long only on paper, because the song actually flies away, giving us the last remnants of an epicity (and which marks victory, at the cost of his life, of the ice warrior). Unfortunately, we will find less and less songs like this one in the future.
A curiosity: following this record two new projects should have been born: one dedicated to the film trilogy of "The Lord of the Rings" (and not the book, it was too hard) and one inspired by "When Demons Awake" called "Rhapsody in Black "... luckily neither of them went through.


SYMPHONY OF ENCHANTED LANDS II: THE DARK SECRET (2004)
Rhapsody with a sprinkle of Joey DeMaio's Magic Circle (yes, the bassist and overlord of Manowar) and thinks of inaugurating the new course with a new saga (which if possible has an even more abstruse and migraine concept) and a title that recalls the great success of the past. The setting is the same and the protagonist is the main ally (at the end) of the hero of the previous story, perfect production and luxury guest Cristopher Lee (RIP) as a narrator, present - even too much - in all 5 releases. of this new story. But let's talk about music, because here there are more than 70 minutes (!!!) for which a single review would not be enough. Let's say that the orchestral component begins to become more present, so much so that the band (which had begun to call their music Hollywood Metal) begins to talk about Cinematic Score parappappa metal ... and at each release it will add an adjective, all this to the partial detriment of the immediacy of the tracks, which still remain very beautiful: the single "Unholy Warcry" or the classic "Never Forgotten Heroes" for example or even the ballad "Magic of the Wizard dream" (later also published in a thousand different languages... the Manowar virus has struck) or the Italian medieval song "Guardiani". Two suites around, both very beautiful, "Erian mystical Rhyme" and "Nightfall on the Gray Mountains", but which would certainly have benefited from a good scissor kick. Let's say that between interludes, spoken parts and uselessness a good quarter of an hour could have been avoided, but the substance is there anyway... and given certain developments believe me, it's not cheap at all.


TRIUMPH OR AGONY (2006)
The first album with the name Rhapsody Of Fire, complete with a horrible cover from a Z series fantasy book. The triumph of the orchestra over metal, increasingly in the background (in some songs it is even difficult to hear the instruments). The band is increasingly committed to representing the story rather than singing it, and therefore stuffs everything with spoken interludes, moments in which we have to imagine a certain action or certain events, like a film.... nice idea, for heaven's sake, but the music? I must say that a good part of the record appears forced, if the title track works (without making me pass out), other tracks seem unrelated, with patchy and not very incisive choruses, except for some things like the folk "Old Age Of Wonders" and the hard rock (!!!) of "Silent Scream", while on the ballad front the powerful "Son of Pain" wins with a great Lyon.
The closing suite deserves a separate thought, "The Mystic Prophecy of the Demonknight" (eeee macarena... oops, sorry): 16 minutes of which the first part is really beautiful, "A New Saga Begins", in the rest a jumble of orchestra, narrated parts and a section where Fabio resumes the famous scream of "When Demons Awake"... why ?? At the bottom of this, we get another piece of 6 minutes linked to the previous one and made only of narration and sound effects... all to make a piece of 23 minutes total of which perhaps we would have saved 6... sad


FROZEN TEARS OF ANGELS (2010)
They break the bridges with the Magic Circle and they marry with the Nuclear Blast. What better occasion to renew your sound?! And here is in fact a different work than the previous one, with a "Sea of ​​Fate" that brings back the electric guitar. In general, everything is more measured, even - alas - the inspiration, because the songs in my opinion are not so memorable, and after a couple of passages on the headphones, I get tired. Stupendous in its vocal malice "Reign of Terror" as is the delicate and sweet Branduardian "Dance of Fire and Ice"; not bad the final title-track, but the immediacy and epicness of the past are more and more a memory.


THE COLD EMBRACE OF FEAR (2010)
New EP, and this time we are faced with a song of 36 minutes divided into 7 parts but to be understood as a single composition. Here, the group has taken all the orchestral and theatrical parts and slapped them above, so much so that the first 4 minutes are voices imitating instruments. Then comes the moment of the central, and most important, body of the album, "The Ancient Fires of Har-Kunn", very beautiful, epic and engaging, a moment that will be resumed in the finale, not before we are shown another 4 minutes of film imaginary and 5 others of a really whining Italian ballad. Surely half of the album is fantastic, but why all those interludes (within the tracks!!!)... wouldn't it be better to relegate these parts to the handy booklet?! Mystery.


FROM CHAOS TO ETERNITY (2011)
The end of the new saga and the last album of the classic line-up: from here in fact Turilli and Staropoli will separate their road, both keeping the name Rhapsody but each carrying out their own ideas. And how does this farewell work sound? Very direct, powerful, well produced and with Fabio Lione always on the shields... but for my taste the songs keep on hiding... mind, there are no bad pieces, but very few memorable ones, perhaps "Tempesta di Fuoco" (for once a song in fast Italian), the title track or even "Aeons of Raging Darkness" (now pissed off Lione is a winning card). A little too pimp and rocking and almost pop "I Belong to the Stars", while the long final suite, "Heroes of the Waterfall's Kingdom". Here the "Dark Secret Saga" ends and the two lives of Rhapsody begin, the cinematic one of Luca Turilli with Alessandro Conti on vocals, and the more canonical (so to speak) of Alex Staropoli, which at least for two other records is held Fabio Lione at the microphone.


DARK WINGS OF STEEL (2013)
The first work after the schism with Turilli, as well as the first non-concept album (at least I think) would like to represent a return to a more streamlined and less baroque sound than the last releases of the group, in reality this does not happen and the compositions, at least in my opinion, they completely lack bite, a refrain that is easily memorable, something that is even vaguely attributable to the good past. Obviously, nobody wants to step back, God forbid, but I assure you that I made a huge effort to listen to this work and despite everything, there is not a song that has remained even remotely in my head as if for an hour I had had emptiness in my ears. And since this happened every time I committed myself to listen to it, I must unfortunately deduce that this record and I travel on very distant tracks and, to date, this represents for me the worst work of the band.


INTO THE LEGEND (2016)
The band continues on its path, giving more vigor to the electrical component of the sound, recovering a certain epicity and power that had been missing for a while. You don't calli it a miracle but pieces like "Distant Sky" and "Into the Legend" work great on headphones. There is always some verbose structure and immediacy is certainly not the salient feature of a work that requires more plays to take off, but the conditions for being optimistic are all there... and will be well placed, even if with another singer. I forgot, even this work is not a concept album.


THE EIGHT MOUNTAINS (2019)
Despite Fabio Lione's farewell, the group finds a new purebred vocalist in Giacomo Voli and starts a new saga. At the same time, we are witnessing a return to sounds closer to the classics, with classy songs that have long been missing from an album by Rhapsody of fire, and I am thinking of "Master of Peace" or the long and magnetic "March Against the Tyrant". Of course, the voice of Giacomo Voli, technically flawless, lacks those epic nuances typical of the predecessor and the songs require more plays to be metabolized, but the very fact that the desire to listen to it remains on you is undoubtedly a sign of a job. Successful and captivating.


GLORY FOR SALVATION (2021)
The second chapter of Rhapsody of Fire with Giacomo Voli, who appears even more at ease and unleashes a capital performance with the whole band. And if the compositions continue, for the most part, to lack immediacy, listening turns out to be extremely pleasant and without particular moments of decline or boredom. And if it is still too early to say which songs will survive the test of time, I can say that the path taken by my beloved Rhapsody of Fire is definitely the right one.

Having said that, thanking you for your patience, I greet you by giving you an appointment at another, equally epic, commented discography.

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