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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Rhapsody

Dawn of Victory

Review by Mike Korn

By the bristling beard of Odin, what manner of mortals be these? The members of the Italian power metal band Rhapsody have taken the fantasy theme to new...and often ridiculous...heights. Think Blind Guardian lay it on pretty thick when it comes to Tolkienesque imagery? They are like Limp Bizkit compared to Rhapsody. What other band has the likes of “Aresius The Ancient Wizard” (probably a roadie wearing a mask from Spencer's) in their ranks?

Seriously, Rhapsody makes no secret of their desire to combine classically-influenced heavy metal with a bombastic Hollywood soundtrack kind of approach. These guys thank the likes of Jerry Goldsmith and John Williams in their notes instead of the usual Megadeth, Motorhead, etc. They use tons of choirs, orchestras, flutes, violins and sound effects to get over their pompous style.      Does it work? Frankly, it was too much for me . Like listening to opera, you are first blown away but eventually exhausted by the sheer overkill. The band's musical prowess is good, with vocalist Fabio Lione being a standout, but it lacks the distinctiveness of other fantasy metallers like Blind Guardian and Manowar. Guitarist Luca Turilli knows how to play but there's nothing original about his Yngwie-cloning arpeggios and speedy runs.

My response to "Dawn of Victory" is similar to my reaction to Robert Jordan's bloated "Wheel of Time" fantasy series...way too much of a good thing. Well, the disc has its good moments but only those with an endless tolerance for classical overkill and fantasy cliches will acclaim it as being great. I much prefer the more focused and metallic effort from their labelmates Shadow Keep.
The band is Fabio Leone: Lead and backing vocals.    Alessandro Lotta: Bass    Luca Turilli: lead guitars    Alex Holzwarth: Drums    Alex Starpoli: keyboards, harpsichord and piano    Aresius The Ancient Wizard: financial advice?

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: The Early Years Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Lux Triumphans
This is a purely symphonic intro that is actually pretty good. Thundering choirs give a feeling almost reminiscent of Gilbert and Sullivan's overused "Mighty Empress" 
Dawn of Victory
The title track gets things off to a good start with a speedy, sprightly touch. The more metallic elements stand out and are not smothered by the classical touches as they are elsewhere. This is good Hammerfallish stuff.
Triumph For My Magic Steel
Another uptempo tune,this is not as convincing as the title track but not bad. It includes lots of swirling arpgeggios from Turilli and hyped-up keyboards from Alex Staropoli.
The Village of Dwarves
"And Oh, how they danced...the little children of Stonehenge..." Sorry,I couldn't help thinking of Spinal Tap as I listened to this embarassing bit of piffle. It features sickening flute work and the most cliched Celtic riff imaginable.
Dargor, Shadowlord of the Black Mountains
I was expecting He-Man to show up on the chorus of this one. This is more overblown metal but with a nice quick violin solo in it.
Holy Thunderforces
The album's high point, this is Rhapsody at its best. Fast, powerful metal that perfectly blends in a classical influence. It features a great chorus, guitar work and some neat harpsichord back up. They need more like this.
Trolls In the Dark
An instrumental with a speedy kick to it, this is nice and compact -and better because of it.
The Last Winged Unicorn
We go back to the Land of Endless Cliches here, with a spoken monologue that had me cringing. Cloying choirs really snuffed the potential in this song.
The Mighty Ride of the Firelord
The opposite to "Holy Thunderforce", this is a seemingly endless, bloated piece of pretentious claptrap featuring more vocal choirs than a years worth of Andrew Lloyd Webber. Three minutes could have been cut out of it easily. When people that criticize power metal bring up tracks like this, I have to agree with them.
 
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