RHAPSODY – Symphony Of Enchanted Lands II – The Dark Secret


Release Date: September 27, 2004

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Now this is an anticipated release! Italian Sympho-Metallers Rhapsody set the Metal world on fire like a full-grown dragon on methanol with their two first releases Legendary Tales and Symphony of Enchanted Lands. They did not, however, at all bring anything new onto the scene; double bass drums, strings, fantasy lyrics, and epic melodies had all been done a zillion times before, but not at all to this extent. The product provided was so overblown and almost ridiculously pompous that suddenly (with the strike of the Mighty Fire-Breathing Spaghetti Wizard) over-produced Kai Hansen-Metal with quasi-Malmsteen guitars, pre-teen war movie-strings, and fantasy lyrics written in the pronunciation of the weird guy in the corner with the big head phones and black-painted nails was on everybody’s lips … this writer’s included.

After these two releases, which definitely balanced on the edge of genius (at least in terms of song writing and orchestral arrangements although maybe not in originality), the band continued producing quality releases, and this is also the case with this one, their fifth full-length album (they also have two EPs out, and main man Luca Turilli has released two solo albums, which have a very similar style).

Actually, this is better than the usual high quality release; this is maybe the band’s best album since Symphony… pt. 1. It shows Rhapsody at its most orchestral, and that’s what the band should cultivate – this is what separates them from the lot of (Italian) fluffy shirt-bands. Songs like the two that exceed the ten-minute mark, “Erian’s Mystical Rhymes” and “Sacred Power Of Raging Winds,” are pure Metal Magic, with awesome strings, epic melodies and great narration from Cristopher Lee (yep!) and another old man whose name is unknown to me.

Other highlights are the very German sounding “Never Forgotten Heroes,” which features the album’s best double-bass chorus, the band’s best ballad ever in “The Magic Of The Wizard’s Dream,” and the almost Blind Guardian-esque melody monster “Nightfall On The Grey Mountains” (as you may have noticed, this band is almost up there with Bal Sagoth in terms of short and concise song titles). Actually, with very few exceptions, every song here solicits a positive impression.

“Guardiani,” an orchestral track sung entirely in Italian (and singer Fabio Lione is much better in Italian than English – anyone up for a huge maaountein or a fire-breathing dreegaan?), and the rather aggressive “Shadows of Death” (check out the orchestrations in the intro and Lione’s manic scream in the chorus), and the potential single “The Last Angel’s Call” are indeed very good songs. Actually, of the nine full-length songs, only “Unholy Warcry” isn’t completely up to par (you can read an in-depth review of this track here).

To top it all off, the band delivers maybe their best instrumental performances ever – Luca Turilli has finally managed to integrate his sweep arpeggios into the music, and makes a positive impression with some neat interplay with the orchestra on several occasions, and Fabio Lione steps forth as the Class A singer he is.

Keyboardist and fish-faced Alex Staropoli, who’s the man responsible for the brilliant arrangements, uses his keyboards to further expand the soundscape, and also contributes with a few nice solos.

Drummer Alex Holzwarth and bassist Patrice Guers also deliver the goods. It appears this is actually the first time ever Rhapsody has used a real drummer in the studio. In Holzwarth’s predecessor, “Thunderforce,” the percussion sounds very much like a drum machine, even with these guys’ sense of funny names in mind.

To sum it up, then, this is probably Rhapsody’s best release in six years, and although it does not possess the pure magic of …part 1, it more than fulfils the wet dreams of this writer and probably some tens of thousands more. Hooray!


  • Torgeir P. Krokfjord

    Torgeir was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio. After hearing Malmsteen's "Vengeance" on a guitar mag CD at the age of 12 or 13, he began doing hopeless interpretations of Yngwie licks and it just took off from there. After shorter stints at other zines he was snatched to Metal Express Radio in 2003. Alongside Yngwie, Savatage, WASP, Symphony X, Blind Guardian, Emperor, Arch Enemy, In Flames, Opeth, Motörhead, Manowar, and Queensrÿche are a quick list of musical faves. Torgeir is also guitarist in the Heavy/Prog/Thrash outfit Sarpedon.

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