The ride can begin
For you, I must win."
One Word Review: Flamboyant
Back in 1997 Rhapsody married the symphonic nature of classical music with heavy metal in a way that felt fresh and new. It resulted in a magnificent debut album that blew yours truly away. Legendary Tales is filled with powerful, energized music that is both complex and memorable but most of all, still enjoyable after 17 years.
There is a deep strength in this music and though it was to truly evolve with their next album, the sign of something special is all over Legendary Tales. Guitarist Luca Turilli and Alex Staropoli on keyboard are the main songwriters and they certainly know how to captivate the listener. Rhapsody's music has always been boldly composed and played with great skill. Impressive guitar and keyboard solos are scattered through the album but Fabio Lione's voice is the all important piece in the puzzle. He holds the music together by singing in a sweeping, operatic way, while maintaining his normal voice and completes the "big" impression the music has.
After a short symphonic introduction, which builds up tension with a full choir and bombastic passages, Warrior of Ice opens the album on a triumphant note. Fabio Lione's vocals are backed by a choir to add more tension in the opening moments and if you don't feel a small kick of adrenaline as the song speeds off with a fast guitar riff, a high pitched scream of "Ride!", trumpets blowing a wild fanfare and violins running amok then you are not listening loud enough. A full orchestra is missed but the ideas are strong enough to succeed on keyboard.
Warrior of Ice is one of many highlights and it is a good example of how the music changes constantly from high speed to slower choir moments, through symphonic middle plays with classical instruments taking the spotlight. The album continues to mix these styles of music to great effect.
Flames of Revenge was a personal favorite right from the first time I heard it. The rhythm and melody in the beginning of the song is so powerful I'm awed every time I listen to it, even if the opening melody is a variation of a passage from Rage of the winter (I tend to think it's the other way around since it fits so perfectly here). The song builds up superbly with hectic verse sections, bold singing, a manic bridge section, which leads back to the effective main melody.
As the song mellows out in its middle section, a special atmosphere is created and violin, guitar and keyboard each get a quick spotlight before the song is back in full force. I absolutely love the way Fabio adds a special intensity to his vocals by changing emphasis on the chorus line at 4:46. Flames of Revenge is a compact, epic classic.
Rage of the Winter and Land of Immortals, where Fabio stretches his vocal muscle to great effect are both powerful songs, each with their own mellow parts to make the impact of the speedy assaults greater. Sandwiched in between the fast tracks, Echoes of Tragedy is a successful ballad with Fabio and choir. Lord of the thunder has a fast uplifting drive even if the choir based chorus falls a bit flat. That is one of very few missteps on the album. Another is the grating chorus of Forest of Unicorns, which steps too far on the wrong side of the silly border.
I hate to make fun of one of my favorite bands, but when it comes to Rhapsody's lyrics, I have a hard time keeping a straight face. Opening a song with the line "Run holy beloved horse" doesn't help, and completely kills any chance of me taking it serious. Nonetheless, I am strangely charmed and able to forgive any lyrical babbling, when the execution is so goddamn spectacular. My infatuation with Rhapsody has always been about their music. That is where the magic is created and the lyrics sometimes underline this and othertimes come off as an unfortunate and rather inept necessity.
With this album and the follow-up, Rhapsody coined the term "Hollywood Metal" and this describes the music pretty good. Keeping the movie connection, Rhapsody can be described as an epic feature, mixing everything from The Lord of The Rings through Conan The Barbarian to The Barbarian Brothers (Yes, the one featuring Peter and David Paul) . It's good clean fun, often awe-inspiring and over the top, sometimes silly, but always from the heart. And that honesty is the most important thing; Rhapsody's music is contagious and brings a positive message.
Legendary Tales marks the beginning of the golden age of Rhapsody and with the follow-up "Symphony of the Echanted Lands" the band's splendor was to fully bloom. A review of that one is forthcoming.
Written By Steen
Online: Thursday, January 2, 2014
Warrior Of Ice
Flames Of Revenge