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Rhapsody: Power of the Dragonflame

The Italian-Stallions of “Hollywood Metal”, Rhapsody, are back to conclude the Emerald Sword saga with their fourth full-length CD titled Power of the Dragonflame. Those familiar with the band already are aware of the epic, fantasy themes behind each of the previous CD’s, and here the finishing touches are put on this grand conceptual story. Led once again by guitarist Luca Turilli and keyboard player Alex Staropoli, Rhapsody have conjured up a sweeping progressive metal statement rich in fantasy lore that will surely please both metal-heads and Lord of the Rings fanatics.

Kicking off the bombast with the sweeping, orchestral instrumental “In Tenebris”, the band marches into familiar speed-metal territory with “Knightrider of Doom” and the exuberant title track. Lead vocalist Fabio Leone’s voice seemingly gets better with each release, and the singer’s brash and confident delivery matches well with the massive choirs on “The March of the Swordmaster.” On the rousing “When Demons Awake” the band dives into almost technical thrash metal, supported by walls of symphonic keyboards and layer upon layer of vocals. Turilli and Staropoli prove to be a formidable duo on this track, trading blazing guitar and synthesizer solos straight out of the Symphony X book of virtuosity. Flutes, recorders, and violins rule the day on “Agony is My Name”, a supercharged and complex barnburner that tells of Algalord’s plot for revenge and death. Things slow down for “Lamento Eroico”, a touching number sung in poignant Italian by Leone and accompanied by Staropoli’s majestic piano. The bands use of sweeping orchestral themes and prog-rock complexity is at the forefront of “Steelgods of the Last Apocalypse”, which also features powerful, melodic vocals from Leone, who sails to new heights alongside the mighty choirs. The Yngwie Malmsteen influence on Turilli’s guitar playing shows on “The Pride of the Tyrant”, as he blazes through the intro with neo-classical arpeggios at lightning speed while the song segues into a driving speed metal fest with walls of orchestrations. A wonderful classical guitar interlude leads you into the closing, nineteen –minute epic “Gargoyles, Angels of Darkness”, which is perhaps the most ambitious piece the band has ever undertaken, and is a fitting end to the Algalord Chronicles. Broken into three long parts, this track sees the band slow the tempo up just a bit for a more Symphony X type sound that features heavier guitar riffs and thicker grooves. For my money, I’d like to see these guys go more in this type of direction, as they have already basically done the speed thing to death. Here, the keyboard work is straight into prog territory; the guitars are thick, the arrangements complex, and the right amount of atmosphere is added when needed. It closes the CD and the story on a grand scale, and proves to be the bands crowning achievement.

Another great reason to pick up this new Rhapsody CD is the packaging. This band consistently has the most striking booklets around. The cover painting is marvelous, all lyrics are included, plus a full synopsis of the story, maps, and full band info. Now that this epic saga has come to a close, one can only wonder what this impressive bunch can come up with next. If you happen to read Luca Turilli’s comments in the booklet, it just might be a story based on a very popular movie at the moment featuring more dragons and little people with hairy feet, but that’s just a hunch…

Added: March 25th 2002
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Score:
Related Link: Official Rhapsody Website
Hits: 2681
Language: english

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