RHAPSODY OF FIRE — Symphony Of Enchanted Lands

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RHAPSODY OF FIRE - Symphony Of Enchanted Lands cover
4.10 | 39 ratings | 5 reviews
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Album · 1998

Tracklist

1. Epicus Furor (1:16)
2. Emerald Sword (4:23)
3. Wisdom Of the Kings (4:30)
4. Heroes Of The Lost Valley (2:06)
5. Eternal Glory (7:31)
6. Beyond The Gates Of Infinity (7:25)
7. Wings Of Destiny (4:30)
8. The Dark Tower Of Abyss (6:48)
9. Riding The Winds Of Eternity (4:15)
10. Symphony Of Enchanted Lands (13:16)

Total Time: 56:04

Line-up/Musicians

- Fabio Lione / vocals
- Luca Turilli / guitars
- Daniele Carbonera / drums
- Alex Staropoli / keyboards
- Alessandro Lotta / bass

Guest musicians:
- Constanze Backes / female baroque voice (10)
- Sir Jay Lansford / narration
- Erik Steenbock / marching drums
- Manuel Staropoli / baroque recorders & baroque oboe
- Mattnias Brommann / violin
- Claas Harders / viola da gamba
- Stefan Horz / Harpsichord
- Sascha Paeth / acoustic guitars, mandolin, balalaika

Strings ensemble:
- Ulrike Wildenhof, Almut Schlicker, Stefanie Holk, Friedrike Bauer and Matthias Brommann / violin
- Marie-Theres Strumpf, Cosima Bergk and Jan Larsen / viola
- Hagen Kuhr / cello
- Andre Neygenfind / contrabass

Choirs:
- Don Kosaken / russian choirs
- Helmstedter Kammerchor (conducted by Andreas Lamken) / sacred choirs
- Thomas Rettke, Robert Hunecke-Rizzo, Ricky Rizzo, Cinzia Rizzo, Tatiana Blocn, Davide Calabrese, Michele Mayer, Giuliano Tarlon, Cristiano Adacher, Manuel Staropoli, Fabio Lione, Alex Staropoli and Luca Turilli / choirs

About this release

Release date: October 5, 1998
Label: Limb Music

Thanks to progshine for the updates

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RHAPSODY OF FIRE SYMPHONY OF ENCHANTED LANDS reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

siLLy puPPy
Italy’s Luca Turilli and Alex Starapoli pioneered the new subgenre of symphonic power metal in creation on the 1997 RHAPSODY debut “Legendary Tales” which set their mystical medieval folklore laden lyrics to a unique mix of symphonic classical and baroque music, power metal and Celtic folk that was drawn out to epic scopes and to which the band RHAPSODY has always referred to as film score metal for its high fantasy polished and hard driving operatic sound circus. The band returned the following year to deliver the stellar sophomore release SYMPHONY OF ENCHANTED LANDS which fine-tuned the melding alchemic musical principles into a greater cohesive whole.

One of the main complaints about the debut was that the metal was only intermittent as sprawling classical tinged folk laden symphonic marches swallowed up vast amounts of real estate with only partial metal satisfaction for head banging pleasures. SYMPHONY OF ENCHANTED LANDS more than corrects that and offers a much greater presence of the power metal elements in the vein of classic Helloween augmented with the tighter control of the classical symphonic prowess that makes this second offering a much more energetic listening experience as it traipses through the mystical musical worlds of dragons, orcs, mages and Middle Earth sensibilities.

While RHAPSODY’s style may sound cliche by today’s standards, this Italian band was the one that kicked off this epic over-the-top symphonic power metal thing. So true that power metal does have its share of cheese and RHAPSODY is no exception with the strident operatic vocals of Fabio Lione wailing over the soaring neoclassical guitar shredding, power metal hooks and Celtic jigs meets J.S. Bach musical interludes but the stellar performances of the musicians pretty much blew everyone else away in the scene during the 90s and with a whopping sixteen guest musicians playing everything from mandolins, balalaikas, oboes and violins to marching drums and harpsichord, it’s almost as if this entire performance was done by a group of classical trained musicians moonlighting to their favorite metal style.

The saga begins with the epic soundtrack intro of “Epicus Furor” which not only introduces a Carl Orff sort of classical bombast but displays one of the most epic elements of the entire album, namely the outstanding choir sections that build up the momentum and lead to the metal fury of “Emerald Sword.” Different tracks focus on different musical genres as the lead musical flavor. While the “Emerald Sword” rips through the metal orotundity, the following “Wisdom Of The Kings” breaks out the folk melodies that incorporate stellar baroque keyboard stabs into the mix and flawlessly weaves the magic of pastoral lands, metal power angst and classical nights at the opera. Both Starapoli and Turilli trade off with virtuosic neoclassical soloing and Lione delivers a soaring vocal charm that despite being the strongest element of the band’s sound somehow fits into the larger scheme of things.

Despite some of the best tracks of RHAPSODY’s career such as the thirteen minute progressive closing title track which summarizes the entire album in a mystical amalgamation of the disparate genres presented, the album has its moments that don’t quite work so well. While the baroque meets folk interlude “Heroes Of The Lost Valley” starts off as a sweet soiree of a folk meets baroque encounter of the days of yore, the narrative part brings out all the cheese with some contrived poetic prose that sounds like an intro to a video game tutorial. However despite a few moments where the cheese factor is turned up to ridiculousness, for the most part it’s tamped down in favor of some intricate melodic interplay of the main instrumental prowess of guitar, keyboards, bass and drums with the army of supplemental sounds mainly serving the introductory parts.

Despite more emphasis on the power metal, by no means was this at the cost of the symphonic classical elements nor does it mean the folk and other instruments have been diminished one bit. It’s just that things had been integrated into a much larger picture that fits into the grandeur of the epic tale at hand. RHAPSODY were the masters of alternating between heavy bombastic metal and lush classical passages and back again with elements of folk, vocal choirs and even symphonic prog that keeps the music interesting enough for repeated listens as it chugs along and then at the drop of a hat smoothly drifts around like a feather on a zephyr breeze. RHAPSODY developed their unique style early on but on SYMPHONY OF ENCHANTED LANDS, the band created a more mature version of it and would remain amazingly consistent in their run of albums that followed. Better in many ways than the debut but a few speed bumps keep it from being perfect as well.
Kingcrimsonprog
Ludicrously over the top, pompously bombastic, cheesy as hell. With Power Metal these things can either be used as insults, or as compliments depending on what you like to listen to.

There are few bands more OTT, more pompous or more cheesy than Italy’s Rhapsody (Who were later re-named Rhapsody Of Fire due to legal issues, and later still split into two bands, Rhapsody Of Fire and Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody with different members in different sides continuing things on separately). Pompus, cheesy and OTT sure, but that’s exactly what’s so great about them. The band are the very spirit of over-dramatic, flowery, sword and sorcery themed Symphonic Power Metal. Just take a look at the dragon on the front cover. Hey people told you dragons and stuff were ridiculous back in the ’90s but nowadays everyone’s calling their newborn kid Khallesi and you can buy Game Of Thrones t-shirts in Asda. (That’s Wallmart for my non-British readers).

Singer Fabio Lione (currently in Angra) has an absolutely stunning voice, with such ridiculous power, range and control. The perfect man for the job of delivering the cheesy OTT story, over this cheesy OTT music. He has the perfect skill for delivering the immense drama the band have to offer. Lead guitarist Luca Turilli’s insane virtuoso mastery of his instrument is beyond impressive. The shred level is off the charts. The combination of both those things is bound to have been a huge influence on modern bands like Firewind and Dragonforce.

This 1998 effort is the second entry in their series of concept albums set in a Lord Of The Rings style fantasy world, continuing the story of their The Emerald Sword Saga. The music is a mixture of Hollywood soundtrack style orchestration and glorious rampaging melodic European-style Power Metal. There’s speedy numbers, mid-paced stuff and lavish string & wind driven atmospheric passages, all working next to each other in perfect harmony. Sometimes they just go ahead and blend it all together too. The fast songs will have flutes and acoustic guitars as intros or outros or middle-eights, the slow songs will have orchestral moments or narration at the end, the mid-paced stompers will speed up later on. It all works so well together.

After a minute of dramatic classical music and chanting in the intro ‘Epicus Furor,’ the band kick off the album with a bang, on possibly the finest track on the whole album and one of the finest of their early career… the absolutely storming ‘Emerald Sword,’ with one of the catchiest choruses you’ll ever hear (it sticks in my head for days at a time). The album is crowned by an epic 13-minute title track which encompasses pretty much all the many styles this album has to offer in one single place. Everything in between, the ballads, the fast ones and the orchestral stuff is all up to a very high standard. Highlights include ‘Wisdom Of The Kings,’ ‘Riding The Wings Of Eternity’ and ‘Beyond The Gates Of Infinity.’

Overall; Symphony Of Enchanted Lands is a ridiculously bold and spectacular album brimming with effort, with enthusiasm and drama. The musicianship is immense, the songs are memorable and as long as you don’t mind that its cheesy as hell, I highly recommend you check it out. Fans of symphonic bands would like it, fans of Power Metal would like it and fans of fantasy fiction would like it.
Warthur
Symphony of Enchanted Lands sees Rhapsody refine and perfect the formula established on Legendary Tales. The classical instrumentation gets to be a little more prominent this time, especially on the epic title track, and we get a bit more narration here and there to help out those who want to follow the story, but otherwise it's essentially more of the same, with just enough variation and musical development to save the album from feeling redundant or unnecessary. If you're going to do Dungeons & Dragons metal, you may as well go completely over the top with it, and Rhapsody pull this off in fine form.
Wilytank
Since I've already familiarized myself with Rhapsody (of Fire)'s latest two albums, I needed a chance to look into their earlier stuff for comparison purposes. I chose 'Symphony of Enchanted Lands'. I can tell no power was lost between then and now.

Fabio, Luca, and Alex make some pretty above average symphonic power metal. They also weave some really over the top fantasy story lyrics. But the can pull it off really well. "Emerald Sword", "Eternal Glory", "The Dark Tower of the Abyss", "Riding the Winds of Eternity", and "Symphony of Enchanted Lands" are epic pieces and some of power metal's best.

Unfortunately, 'Symphony of Enchanted Lands' had the misfortue of being released the same year as Blind Guardian's 'Nightfall On Middle Earth', a vastly inferior album. I think because of that, this album was overshadowed except by those literate in the power metal genre. This is an album worth checking out.
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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