Another brilliant record from Rhapsody. SOEL is surely one of thier best records. I personally didn’t enjoy this one as much as Power of the Dragonflame but it comes a very very close second. Rhapsody takes a different approach with this album, they not only use the choirs, keyboards and speed metal sounds of their other albums but experimented very successfully with classical renaissance music. Lots of these songs break from speed metal power to these classical interludes a lot during SOEL, which in turn I would say makes this album to Rhapsody, as Orchid is to Opeth, thier most instrumental album. It is also their most upbeat, optimistic, “prettiest” sounding album so to speak. The album kicks off great with Emerald Sword, the opening choirs just suck you in and take you on a journey to midevil lands you never once knew, it opens up the imagination incredibly. Then comes the classical parts, and I don’t know any other way to describe them but beyond brilliant. Why? because they all work so well with the rest of the songs and just caress your ears so finely they force you to hit the repeat button over and over. An incredibly pleasing piece of music to listen to indeed. Their one ballad off the album is also amazing I must say; gorgeous romantic melodies entrance you in no time. Now, why not the 5 star review? well, as much as I loved this album I couldn’t help but feel that a song or 2 just seemed to get carried away with themselves towards the end, dragging a little. Then there’s the voice actor. Oh, that Rhapsody voice actor. He’s so cheesy he just sounds like someone they pulled off the street and paid 10 bucks to to read some lines and try to act. In one part he was crying in fear and hope and I couldn’t help but start laughing. Please Rhapsody, if you’re reading this, STOP THE VOICE ACTING, IT’S HORRIBLE! Also, I felt one of the tracks somewhat mediocre.But that’s all, otherwise this is a wonderfully beautiful album that no power metal fan should be without. It’s not exactly 5 star material in my book but it comes very close. Most of the score just comes from successful creativity, I’ve honestly never heard anything like this, even from power metal. I wish Rhapsody would use that classical stuff on more of their albums, it works so well with this one it’s staggering. Needless to say, a must buy.
The Italian progressive metal act’s sophomore album, originally released in 1999. Ten tracks including, ’Epicus Furor’, ’Emerald Sword’, ’Wisdom Of Kings’ & ’Heroes of the Lost Valley’.
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Rhapsody play neoclassical/symphonic power metal with lots of classical instrumentation. Apparently they compose their music in the classical style as well: on sheet music, rather than by trying out riffs and melodies on the guitar.To hear it described that way makes it sound like something I would really like, and which would catch on like wildfire in the progressive metal community. But it hasn’t caught on like wildfire, although Rhapsody is rather well-known now. The reason is that the classical elements are really fairly simple and soundtrack-ish. The music has great atmosphere but not enough complexity and seriousness. This lack of seriousness makes the music some of the most bombastically cheezy stuff imaginable. If Rhapsody had a bunch of great songs I wouldn’t mind–Rage is also symphonic power metal that borders on cheese, but I love ‘em, because all their songs are great. Rhapsody doesn’t have that advantage. Don’t get me wrong, there are some really catchy tunes here, but nothing that would count as “timeless” or a “product of genius” in my view. Luca Turilli’s solo album has some of that, I would say. I don’t think there’s a Rhapsody song that matches “Ancient Forest of Elves.” So for the metal generalist who is interested in the symphonic genres, I would recommend Luca Turilli, Rage, and Therion over Rhapsody. But for those like myself who are more enthralled in the neoclassical style, Rhapsody will be a worthy purchase. My 4 rating indicates just that: it is not for everyone, but it is a solid release for those with a special affection for the neoclassical style.
Let me say first that I own all 3 of Rhapsody’s albums. This is because in a day of garbage, corporate-packaged music that is beginning to infect even the metal underground, it is simply a wonderful thing when a band comes along that combines amazing musicianship with a real love for playing. Most of the reviews for this record have already mentioned the basics – power metal (i.e. heavy metal with operatic vocals) crossed with orchestrated passages. But I don’t think they are getting to the meat of it. This is in my opinion, the best work Rhapsody has done to date. I love Legendary Tales, but this album just destroys it, and Dawn of Victory, while great, is a letdown. Firstly, the first track on all the albums is a sort of hymnal/classical intro, and this one has the best of the 3, easily. Alex Strapoli, the keyboardist/pianist/harpsichordist, does the arrangements, and he is superbly talented at it. Then of course we get to the first 2 over the top speedy songs. Both simply magnificent. One of the main things I love about this band is they way they incorporate the classical instruments WITH the metal instruments – case in point is “Emerald Sword” where the violins are soaring over the double bass drumming and background guitar. It works so well, it makes me wonder why it isn’t more prevalent. Whoever said there isn’t much variety is not listening to the entire album. “Eternal Glory” and “Wings of Destiny” are completely different from each other and from most of the rest of this CD. My favorite track, by far, is “The Dark Tower of Abyss” for its incredible classical intro and middle section, which coincide perfectly with the rest of the song; the main riff uses a trade off between guitar and strings in an increasing downward spiraling fashion that shows the complexity of the writing. This is not your average power chord band. If you download a song by this band, “Dark Tower” is the one to get. The vocalist is perfect. The ONLY drawback to this album are the spoken word intros on tracks 4 and 10, but they are less than 2 minutes total and hey, that’s why there’s a mute button. This album’s greatest appeal is that anyone who can appreciate music will like it – it is universal. Not many bands can say that.
How can a metal band compose such beautiful classical music? Rhapsody is truly awesome, both literally and figuratively. They merge their bombastic power metal with classical music in ways that blow the mind. The guitars are exhilarating and technical…Luca Turilli is really amazing. His solos and riffs are incredible, but don’t concentrate solely on the guitar. You’ll also want to lend an ear to the stunning classical interludes. What’s great about these songs is that they can be fast and heavy at one moment, then shift fluidly into more florid moments, but it all coheres nicely. This fantasy story of heroism is delivered through Fabio Lione operatic vocals. Though the English is a little disjointed, it all sounds really good, so it never becomes a problem. The use of the choir adds to the power of the music.In the end, this CD comes across with far more impact than the phenomenal Legendary Tales, and I can’t wait for more of Rhapsody’s albums.
This is the second album of a band that really deserves to be well-known. Some melodic metal performers are often blamed because they just try to impress people with their outstanding ability to play fast while they forget composition and feelings. With Rhapsdoy you get both ingredients, and at their best level. This is very good heavy metal with a strong classical influence. The instruments are incredibly diverse (violins, viola, cello, piano, accoustic and electric guitars, contra bass, harp, flute…) and finely orchestrated. While one heavy song and its powerful rythm will get you going, the other one will enchant your ear with its delicate medieval melodies. In my opinion the only small fly in the ointment lies in lyrics, which are a bit simple (dragons everywhere, holy swords, elves, magical keys…). But let’s face it anyway, they fit to this kind of music ! I highly recommend this album (as well as Legendary Tales, the first one which is also a masterpiece and I weigh my words) to anyone who likes metal and/or classical music. Pass on it only if you can’t bare heavy guitars or the heroic fantasy universe.