Since their 1997 debut, “Legendary Tales”, Rhapsody has been churning at an average rate of one album per 14 months (6 albums in 7 years). At that rate and with the specific genre the band has spearheaded, they are bound to run out of ideas.
And this album does it. Rhapsody simply doesn’t know what to do anymore.
Before I go into the review, I urge you to not dismiss this review as someone who doesn’t like the band or the genre. Rhapsody is one of my all-time favorite artists and I love every release (in fact, my expectations for “The Dark Secret” were, perhaps, astronomically unfair). Every album before this one has had something amazing to offer, be it a melody, a song, or a series of songs.
But “The Dark Secret” doesn’t do it. The Italian quintet, which has earned its title in the power metal circuit as the most pompous and extravagant band, returned to their songwriting formula and exhausted it. Songs like “Unholy Warcry” have a choir, which is nothing new, and a chorus that deviates in one note from the norm (no big surprise there). The third song, “Never Forgotten Heroes” is probably the best song on the album *but* (and please try this) it is almost a direct copy of the third track on “Symphony of Enchanted Lands”: “Wisdom of the Kings” (a superior track). It’s uncanny. I wonder if anyone else has noticed this, or if the band thought this would go by undetected.
The band pulled off a successful 19-minute song (“Gargoyles, Angels of Darkness”) in their last release with a variety of melodies, adequate sectioning, and a constantly evolving melodic structure. But the two painfully long 10-minute offerings on “The Dark Secret” (“Sacred Power of Raging Winds” and “Erian’s Mystical Rhymes”) drag on for hours. The delectable celtic number on the “Rain of a Thousand Flames” EP (“Elnor’s Magic Valley”) is butchered in a mediocre clone with almost *the exact same name*: “Elgard’s Green Valleys”. Finally, the album’s ballad, “The Magic of the Wizard’s Dream” is another “Wings of Destiny”, just with a different name and some baritone singers in the background.
Did (all of) this not bother anyone else?
The addition of Christopher Lee does nothing to improve the band’s catalog because frankly, I doubt that anyone really cares *that much* about the fantastic storyline behind their albums. I’m strapped to find people who can regurgitate the so-called “Algalord Chronicles” because even the biggest fans are in it for the medieval melodies and razor-sharp guitars.
The album’s saving graces are few. The artwork is beautiful (as always), and the production is stellar. “Never Forgotten Heroes” and the innovative “Guardiani del Destino” are definitely great songs, but in small quantities. Overall, the album is very repetitive and lacks the truly outstanding tracks that have made their previous releases must-have’s. Where are the “Pride of the Tyrant”’s? The “Village of Dwarves”’s? The “Land of Immortals”’s?
I say: wait a few years. Regenerate your creative energies, and come back to the studio with something new. Please.
See also: The entire Rhapsody catalog, but namely “Symphony of Enchanted Lands”