After Rhapsody delivered the triumphant conclusion to their ongoing Emerald Sword Saga with 2002’s Power of the Dragonflame, a lot of metal fans were left wondering what the band would do next, and how they could possibly top their previous efforts. To their credit, Rhapsody spared no expense in making 2004’s Symphony of Enchanted Lands, Part II: the Dark Secret their most epic and ambitious album to date. Unfortunately this strategy did not pay off.
On the surface, it makes perfect sense for a power metal band as symphonically oriented as Rhapsody to hire a huge orchestra to augment their album, and casting Christopher Lee (Saruman from the Lord of the Rings films) seemed like a stroke of genius, especially after the godawful narration of the band’s previous albums. The only thing Luca Turilli and company needed to do was come up with an album worthy of these enhancements. Besides, the time was ripe for the band to come up with some fresh ideas, new storylines, and generally take their music to a new level. Instead Luca went back to the trough to “revisit” the themes from the band’s first Symphony of Enchanted Lands album, and by revisit I mean they essentially ripped themselves off. There’s absolutely nothing on this album that you haven’t already heard from Rhapsody. The concepts, lyrics, and arrangements are so similar to previous efforts that it borders on self-parody. On its own merits it is a perfectly decent symphonic power metal album, but when you hold it up against the band’s earlier works it just falls short of expectations.
Ultimately, Symphony of Enchanted Lands, Part II was a wake up call for this metal fan. In the past I was able to look past the band’s cheesier aspects because they were so good at this kind of music, and they seemed to improve with each album. With this album, the band definitely took two steps back, and it proved to be the album that cured me of my Rhapsody affection. Oh well, we’ll always have the Emerald Sword albums.