September 27, 2004 (Sept. 28 in the US) marked the opening of the brand new epic Symphony Of Enchanted Lands II: The Dark Secret. This is a new style of metal, Italy's Rhapsody calls "Film Score Metal". Because of this, I refer to the release of this album as an "opening" instead of only a release. Why do I do this? Allow me to explain what the term "Film Score Metal" means to me…
Think of the feeling of being in a movie theater on opening day. After months of anticipation, the day has come and the lights go down. The widescreen is to the front of you, and the sound begins to swell on the theater's sound system. On this screen in your mind you see an image, the image of the Enchanted Lands pictured on the CD's cover. Marc Klinnert's painting beautifully captures the panoramic view of these lands. The red dragon flying proudly above the castle, surrounded by the green valleys and the majestic mountains. The narrator, film legend Christopher Lee then tells the viewer that "it was a good time for all creatures of the earth, but fate decreed the the dark prophecy of a demon knight could bring a tragic end to this peace scarring their lives forever…" Evidently the warmth and beauty of these lands, is about to get very dark due the threatening nature of the Wizard King's (Lee's) words.
As the king speaks, the music begins to swell in the background. A combination of symphonic majesty and metallic power. "Film Score Metal" begins to make it's meaning crystal clear here. The devastating power and majesty of a film score, thrust out of a theater's speakers and enhancing every single moment of the movie's storyline to maximum effect. For example, the work of composer James Horner has taken so many different movies to another level with the power and drama of his musical atmospheres. With this in mind it's not very hard to imagine the opening chords of "Unholy Warcry" as a musical background to:
SPV in conjunction with Magic Circle Music presents..
A Turilli/Staropoli film
SYMPHONY OF ENCHANTED LANDS II: THE DARK SECRET
Christopher Lee as The Wizard King
Fabio Lione as Dargor
and Toby Eddington as Iras Algor
Soundtrack performed by RHAPSODY
The storyline picks up shortly after the events depicted on the previous Rhapsody release Power Of The Dragonflame. Threatening the peace in the Enchanted Lands is the hellish prophecy within the pages of the seventh book of a series of black books. These books were a testament of pure evil. This prophecy is known as the "dark secret", the secret of resurrecting Nekron, the last son of the hell god Kron. The Order Of The White Dragon was created to protect the enchanted lands from this threat. Now it is their task to find one to travel to the caves of Dar-Kunor in the Darklands to find and retrieve the book. The one they choose is Dargor: the former disciple of hell, turned hero at the end of the Emerald Sword Saga. Can this former evil Shadowlord be trusted? Can he find this book and stop what could potentially happen in the Enchanted Lands? These are the questions asked as the album prepares to take one an a spellbinding odyssey. Open your mind as well as your ears, you can see it as well as hear it!!
From a compositional standpoint, Staropoli and Turilli rise to the task and compose very elaborate, enchanting, and powerful music to propel this story to it's greatest possible heights. 4 of the songs on this album ("Sacred Power Of Raging Winds", "Erian's Mystical Rhymes", and "Shadows Of Death") are of epic length. There is a tremendous amount of attention paid to every single detail of this project. From the music composed, to the arrangements, to the storyline, and even the booklet that contains a full time line for events in the Enchanted Lands and a 4 chapter section called "The Mystic Prophecy Of The Demonknight" where many particulars of the story are told in the words of the character Iras Algor. As I mentioned earlier, the Marc Klinnert's artwork for this package is very majestic, and the most beautiful work he has ever done for Rhapsody.
Individual performances from all involved with this project certainly qualify as going "above and beyond" the call of duty. Words cannot accurately describe the power and majesty film legend Christopher Lee brings with his dramatic narrations and presence. Vocalist Fabio Lione is astonishing all throughout the album. His performance in "The Magic Of The Wizard's Dreams" is a small sample of this man's amazing abilities. Fabio covers a very wide spectrum with his voice in this song, and his delivery is simply dazzling! Luca Turilli and Alex Staropoli take their musicianship to even greater heights throughout this album. Their neoclassical jousting with one another, and the way they interact with The Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic Orchestra is absolutely breathtaking! For a project this massive, people giving 100% would definitely be essential in being able to pull it off. With the mighty cast assembled here, it's easy to see 120% effort given!!
Thus ends my experience playing movie critic as well as music critic and I have to say this is definitely a box office smash! Other reviews I have read about the second symphony in the enchanted lands are very postive as well! In closing I have to say I can honestly see Luca Turilli and Alex Staropoli actually composing music for a Hollywood motion picture someday! Perhaps even having the "Emerald Sword Saga" and the "Dark Secret Saga" adapted to the big screen in reality! Some may think saying this is crazy, but don't bet against those 2. They and their band Rhapsody has made a career out of accomplishing the impossible. Just when one could say "No you can't", Rhapsody says "yes we can!!!!"
1. The Dark Secret
2. Unholy Warcry
3. Never Forgotten Heroes
4. Elgard's Green Valleys
5. The Magic Of The Wizard's Dreams
6. Erian's Mystical Rhymes
The White Dragon's Order
7. The Last Angel's Call
8. Dragonland's River
9. Sacred Power Of Raging Winds
10. Guardiani Del Destino
11. Shadows Of Death
12. Nightfall On The Grey Mountains