"Live in Canada 2005 - The Dark Secret" (SPV/Magic Circle; 2006)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Admittedly, Rhapsody is an acquired taste. If you're a fan of those big, sprawling movie scores (a la Lord of the Rings, Braveheart, even Star Wars) and heavy metal,  then Rhapsody will probably be to your liking. You have to geek out a bit to get into fantasy metal that's this heavy on the "fantasy" rather than the "metal," but if it's what you're looking for, you'll find it here.

With all of the additional instruments involved in creating Rhapsody's sound (remember, we're talking true, symphonic metal here), you might think that there's no way the band could carry that sound on into a live performance. "Live in Canada" would prove you wrong.

As rich as any of their studio CDs, and even featuring what seems to be the voice of Lord of the Rings star Christopher Lee, "Live in Canada" will surprise you with its rich sounds, its technically complex musicianship and its full, lush production. Even the vocals are strong and clear; again, more like a studio sound than what you'd expect live.

There is one exception here: The crowd noise is especially invasive. Sometimes, it's so apparent throughout even a racing musical break that it brings you out of the moment. I know a live recording is supposed to sound live, but this gets to be a little much at times.

The bottom line here is easy: If you're into Rhapsody, you'll like this CD. If their unique brand of fantasy movie metal doesn't work for you, then this CD will be no different.

Also included is a DVD containing the complete album in 5.1 Surround Sound quality with some exclusive behind-the-scenes material. The DVD is cool but, I'd rather have two full CDs of live music.

For more information visit http://www.mightyrhapsody.com

"Symphony of Enchanted Lands II: The Dark Secret" (SPV/Steamhammer; 2004)

Reviewed by Snidermann


If you've ever read a fantasy novel or, better yet, been to a Renaissance Faire, then you have experienced what the music on "Symphony of Enchanted Lands II" is all about.

This CD tells an epic tale with thundering drums, full orchestration and four part choral arrangements. This band should be the go-to guys when it comes to writing a score for a fantasy movie or video game, they are that good at what they do. 

Of course, the question begs, would your average hard rock / heavy metal fan get into this stuff? Probably not. "Symphony" plays more like Wagner than Ozzy Osbourne. Still, the music here is very cool and definitley fun to listen to. 

So I am going to give this CD two scores: Two guitarsaws for the music, because it is very cool, but isn't quite hard rock or heavy metal and I am also going to score it three guitarsaws because I'm a fan of movies like "Ladyhawke," "Conan the Barbarian," the three "Lord of the Rings" films and "Legend." 

Rhapsody is a highly talented and very unique band who should be writing and recording music for years to come. If you're a fan of the genre, this is probably as good as it gets.

For more information visit http://www.mightyrhapsody.com

"Power of the Dragonflame" (SPV/Limb Music; 2002)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

On "Power Of The Dragonflame," Rhapsody's grandiose power metal hasn't changed a bit since the last release of theirs that I heard ("Dawn Of Victory"). You'd have thought I'd have used the world 'grandiose' in my review of "Dawn Of Victory, but I didn't, so 'grandiose' is going to get overused here and don't expect any apologies either.

Rhapsody's brand of grandiose Hollywood metal hasn't changed a single bit. Overall, the performance on "Power Of The Dragonflame" is top-notch especially if you like the speedy neo-classical style they've begun to perfect. It takes more than a casual listen to discern the differences between the first nine tracks. Rhapsody's grandiose style is perfectly exhibited on the 19-minute epic "Gargoyles, Angels Of Darkness." Epic tracks are usually 'hit or miss' with me; typically the more grandiose the epic song the more likely I won't like it. However, in this case that rule of thumb is not an issue. "Gargoyles" is a story well told and musically there are enough classic metal elements (i.e. Iron Maiden-ism) that it keeps my interest.

Here's another interesting observation worth mentioning: the fourth track, "The March Of The Swordmaster," made me realize how much of an influence Manowar have had on power metal lo these many years. The vocals especially reminded me of Eric Adams almost to the point of being a dead-ringer of his deep yet melodic style.

At least I know that I am getting used to the grandiose nature of Rhapsody as I didn't laugh nearly as hard or as long as I did when listening to "Dawn Of Victory." But don't get me wrong there is a place for Rhapsody in my listening experiences. "Power Of The Dragonflame" would be a perfect complement to passing the time on a long drive along with the likes of albums by Kamelot, Symphony X, Bal-Sagoth, Blind Guardian, and Edguy.

"Power Of The Dragonflame" was produced by Sascha Peth and Miro. As is to be expected, the production is very slick and grandiose it's almost too much, but I guess if you're going to go 'over the top' you might as well as go all the way.

Rhapsody: Luca Turilli on guitars, Alex Staropoli on keyboards, harpsichord and piano, Fabio Lione on lead and backing vocals, Alessandro Lotta on bass, and Alex Holzvarth on drums.

For more information visit http://www.mightyrhapsody.com

"Dawn of Victory" (SPV/Limb Music; 2000)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter


Rhapsody's brand of symphonic power metal has been dubbed 'Hollywood metal' by American critics for its overwrought production, excessive theatrics, and cheesy story lines. It will only take one quick listen to "Dawn Of Victory" to confirm why that tag will stick with the band for the foreseeable future.

Rhapsody's technical skill wins points from me and their skillful incorporation of neo-classical elements actually is done quite well. The epic-ness of the disc has its good points (it stays consistent and ties the whole CD together) and bad points (it's quite corny at times). The changes in timing and pacing throughout "Dawn Of Victory" is well above average and makes the CD tolerable despite the high levels of 'cheese.'

I've long since accepted the fact that I like grit in my music more than anything else so I found the melodramatics of "Dawn Of Victory" to be a bit comical at times. But somehow I'll still find time to listen to "Dawn Of Victory" again especially since I know I'll add Rhapsody to the still short, but growing, list of bands that I have turned the 'Infamous K.O." onto.

Fans of Blind Guardian, Gamma Ray, and Helloween will love Rhapsody. These Italians really sound German to me!

"Dawn Of Victory" was produced by Sascha Peth and Miro (both have produced Kamelot). The production is very slick; I've always advocated that metal needs high production values, but sometimes there can be too much of a good thing.

Rhapsody is Luca Turilli on guitars, Alex Staropoli on keyboards, harpsichord and piano, Fabio Lione on lead and backing vocals, Alessandro Lotta on bass, and Alex Holzvarth on drums.

For more information visit http://www.mightyrhapsody.com

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2006 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 03 Jun 2024 13:03:50 -0400.