The Dark Secret introduces "Film Score Metal", the name for the most recent style of metal created by the mighty Rhapsody. The upcoming album's subject matter up until recent months was a dark secret as well! Things were said about a Rhapsody In Black project, and a Lord Of The Rings saga. Then both ideas were scrapped. Then Turilli and Staropoli got to work on a very special project. Very little information was released about it, and for the longest time it's subject matter was top secret.
Finally the word got out that none other than the legendary actor Christopher Lee (who appeared as Saruman in The Lord Of The Rings) would be doing the narrations for this upcoming project! He would assume the role of The Wizard King. His daughter Christina Lee would also be appearing in the role of a Warrior Princess. There would also be a full-blown orchestra, baroque ensemble, 50 piece choir, and be recorded in studios all over Europe in places such as England, Italy, Germany, Belgium, and the Czech Republic (where they utilize the entire Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic Orchestra). This first project for their new label SPV, and Magic Circle Music appears to be massive, and this 5 song EP (limited edition includes a bonus DVD) sort of functions as the teaser for the upcoming audio motion picture coming in the fall of 2004 entitled Symphony Of Enchanted Lands Part 2 – The Dark Secret
"Unholy Warcry" gets things started, and Christopher Lee begins this track with a narration. Here we hear a familiar name spoken. The name of one who helped the Nordic Warrior defeat the evil king Akron at the conclusion of "The Emerald Sword Saga". The former evil shadow lord, who is now a hero. His name is Dargor, and we have returned to Algalord. The stories from the enchanted lands continue in what is now called "The Dark Secret Saga".
Following the narration, the song "Unholy Warcry" shows Rhapsody even more symphonic and bombastic than ever before! The orchestra adds even more atmosphere and depth, Luca Turilli's arpeggio sweeps are even more impressive than ever before! The song has a strong anthem like chorus and is destined to be a stage favorite.
"Thunder's Mighty Roar" follows and a dancing Tubular Bells-like keyboard line leads the mighty orchestra into a rather aggressive sounding tune, which has vocalist Fabio Lione utilizing the vicious vocal styling he used in "When Demons Awake" from the previous album Power Of The Dragonflame. In the English version of "Guardians Of Destiny", the baroque ensemble comes into play and Lione uses a gentle narrative style of singing. His rich Italian accent comes even more into the forefront here, and adds a very nice atmosphere to this baroque styled ballad.
The following track "Sacred Power Of Raging Winds" is a 10 minute epic, and the most astonishing piece of music on this EP. This song has it all: A Christopher Lee narration. Impressive vocals and acting from Fabio Lione as he assumes the role of Dargor in this song who has a conflict with his demon father Vankar. There is also an absolutely amazing neoclassical section in this song, which has Turilli at times dueling with the orchestra, and other times soloing along with it.
The final track "Non Ho Sonno (remix)" is the second time Rhapsody has worked with a song from Italian prog film soundtrack legends Goblin (the previous time in adapting their "Phenomena" in "Queen Of The Dark Horizons" from Rain Of A Thousand Flames). This song was originally composed by Goblin for a movie by the famous Italian director Dario Argento, and now this version features additional production by Luca Turilli and Alex Staropoli.
For those who bought the limited edition, a bonus DVD is also included. The first segment is called "the making of the dark secret" and features Christopher Lee in a good portion. He obviously is very happy to be doing this, and it certainly shows in the things that he says. Also Luca, Alex, manager/Manowar bassist Joey Demaio, Christopher's Webmaster have commentary as the story is told of how Christopher was contacted to be in the project. Also scenes of the orchestra performing, and Christopher Lee reading the dialogue are shown. Following this is a video made by an Italian fan called
"The Emerald Sword Saga Movie" which is made to look like a mini motion picture with opening and closing credits like one, and featuring Rhapsody music over images of a book turning it's pages and little scenes to illustrate parts of the story. Very nicely done! Following this we see the "Unholy Warcry" music video and it certainly shows an improvement over their previous videos. The image of Christopher Lee on the CD's cover is from this and he wears the crown and costume and reads the opening narration. There are images of the sea crashing against the rocks below and Rhapsody performs on the hill above near a castle. Watching Turilli imitate those amazing sweeps, and seeing Lione's impressive delivery of the song are 2 definite highlights of watching this. More sections with Lee narrating are in the video, as well as some images of torches, burning skulls, and hooded figures. Finally we have the 5.1 surround sound mix of "Unholy Warcry and here one can experience the song in full atmospheric majesty!
The Dark Secret proves to be an appetizing teaser for the upcoming Rhapsody blockbuster audio film! Christopher Lee says in the interview on the bonus DVD that he believes they are making music history with this project, and I certainly believe him! Based on this preview (which by the way, includes 4 songs that won't be on the upcoming full length epic), this music and now audio movie critic predicts 5 stars!
1. Unholy Warcry (short version)*
2. Thunder's Mighty Roar*
3. Guardians Of Destiny (English version)*
4. Sacred Power Of Raging Winds
5. Non Ho Sonno (remix)*
* Tracks will not be included in the forthcoming album
Limited edition bonus DVD:
1. The Making Of The Dark Secret
2. The Emerald Sword Saga Movie
3. "Unholy Warcry" (videoclip)
4. "Unholy Warcry" (5.1 surround sound)