RHAPSODY OF FIRE — Symphony Of Enchanted Lands (review)

RHAPSODY OF FIRE — Symphony Of Enchanted Lands album cover Album · 1998 · Power Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
Conor Fynes
'Symphony Of Enchanted Lands' - Rhapsody (Of Fire) (7/10) The band Rhapsody (Of Fire) is known by metalheads and progheads alike to be a band you either love or despise. Without even listening to the music, I can guarantee that there will be an echelon of critics that will automatically blacklist 'Symphony Of Enchanted Lands' and any other power metal and list it off as 'idiot's metal.' While I can certainly relate that the emphasis on Tolkien fantasy can be a bit bothersome at times (especially when it's not Lord Of The Rings, but a cheap, thinly strung spin-off world) the music found here certainly lives up to it's name. There is much of a symphonic nature here, and there are times when one might not even be sure whether he is listening to metal, or classical music.

Keeping that in mind, it's best to treat the lyrical content and concept of the band and the band's music as two separate entities. I've never been one to follow Rhapsody's storylines, but whatever it may be, it does seem to give the music great opportunity to explore a wide range of emotions.

After a brief but complex classical introduction, the band breaks into the most catchy and infectious track 'Symphony' has to offer. 'Emerald Sword' is a very good introduction to what the band is all about; that is strong melodies, rapidfire guitar work and classically influenced riffage.

Onward, there are some slower power ballads, some more typical power metal tracks, and then... possibly the worst narration I've ever heard?

It's a real shame when an album's largest flaw is something that so simply could have been avoided. The narration (while typically meant to advance a story and provide respite) is almost painful to listen through. It almost seems like it's mocking both the band and the genre of music. the narrator sounds like the most stereotypical Dungeons & Dragons player, who forgot to take out his retainer before speaking and recording his voice. I'm not trying to overcritical, but theres a point where the cheesiness makes it a mockery of itself.

The second half of the album is certainly the better half. It's much more musically complex, and the catchy four minute tracks are exchanged for longer beasts with some mindblowing instrumentation. 'The Dark Tower Of Abyss' ends up being the highlight, with some suprisingly progressive and offbeat sections, and a beautiful classical buildup that sounds like it was written by Bach himself!

While the epic finale takes a bit of time to grow on the listener, it builds up very pleasantly for an epic finish to an epic album. 'Symphony Of Enchanted Lands' is a classic album by power metal standards, and if it weren't for comedy-bad vocals, it would be great all around. Recommended to fans of progressive metal who want a brand of metal a bit different from the typical Dream Theater sound. Four stars.
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