RHAPSODY OF FIRE — Legendary Tales (review)

RHAPSODY OF FIRE — Legendary Tales album cover Album · 1997 · Power Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
Known as the pioneers of fusing power and symphonic metal into epic fantastical journeys, Luca Turilli and Alex Staropoli created their progressive neoclassical driven band all the way back in 1993 in Trieste, Italy under the moniker Thundercross before finally changing it to the more familiar RHAPSODY, only then to be altered once again to RHAPSODY OF FIRE in 2006 due to trademark issues. Really? It took someone ten years to figure out they didn’t deserve the name? Geez.

Riding in the wake of power metal bands like Helloween, Running Wild and Blind Guardian, RHAPSODY was all about fantastical voyages into the world of mythical creatures, wily wizards and the eternal battle of good and evil and their debut album LEGENDARY TALES the band began the lengthy and never-ending epic journey into their high fantasy musical world of “The Emerald Sword Saga” which spanned over five albums ending with “Power Of The Dragonflame.”

Fantasy and mythology are nothing new in metal of course and traverses throughout the entire metal universe with bands like Summoning devoting their entire subject matter to Tolkien inspired themes. RHAPSODY took a similar approach only changing things around a bit to create their own mystical folklore that finds the similar Middle Earth approach between the battle of good and evil in a glorious bravado.

The album takes the frenetic energy infused riffing of power metal and applies rich symphonic and emotionally dense segments that include flutes, recorders, harpsichord, violins, cello, mandolin and a rich eight piece choir (tagged as the Choir Of Immortals) along with the expected metal instrumentation of guitar, bass, drums and classic operatic over-the-top vocals. The sheer scope of the journey is performed with technical wizardry and easily takes the listener to the epic lands far away from the reality we experience in the here and now.

Yeah, power metal can be a bit cheesy at times but when it’s done right, it is grand and intense. The problem usually arises in that the band in question doesn’t quite have the chops to pull off their visions. RHAPSODY is chock full of virtuosic talent focused on Luca Turilli’s speed-drenched guitar wizardry, Alex Staropoli’s keyboard gymnastics and excellently constructed compositions that focus on all aspects of the music without any particular style or genre stealing the show. These guys have mastered the art of musical foreplay and climax like few others in the metal world yet deliver all the metal goods in ample doses.

While the metal riffs are primarily based on 80s Manowar taken to more ambitious extremes, the neoclassical solos reminisce of Yngwie Malmsteen’s classically charged shred wankery. The keyboards on the other hand exist in a neo-Baroque universe that compliment the guitar segments but often find moments of expressing unadulterated J.S.Bach glory. Mountains of melody emerge through carefully constructed flute and recorders while choirs caress the soundscape with harmonic bliss.

RHAPSODY’s debut LEGENDARY TALES truly took metal’s most virtuosic and ambitious aspects to new heights with outstanding musical performances within perfectly drawn out journeys that fleshed out emotional depth with a stellar performance by vocalist Fabio Lione whose vocal range shatters glass when on fire and yet carries a perfectly calm demeanor when poetic prose is in order. It’s no wonder RHAPSODY has been so successful starting from this not so humble beginning. All the elements have already gelled with the band’s vision having been crystal clear by mapping out a complete five part saga for their debut.

The excellent performances are even more stellar with the superb production job from Gate-Studios in Wolfsburg, German with Sascha Paeth of Heaven’s Gate and Angra fame at the helm. This is a stunningly rich collection of ten outstanding tracks that contain no samples or synthesizers. All instruments heard are the real deal. While i am blown away by LEGENDARY TALES it falters only in the more tightly composed epics that follow but consistency has been one of RHAPSODY (OF FIRE)’s strengths and this debut is certainly no exception.
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siLLy puPPy wrote:
4 months ago
No doubt. They do meander away from metal a lot but they do it so well that i like most of their albums. Exactly why i personally wouldn't call them power metal and throw in the prog metal camp.
UMUR wrote:
4 months ago
I think they soon drowned in symphonic ideas and forgot the POWER in their power metal, but the first couple of Rhapsody albums are brilliant.I think this debut might be my favorite...

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