Rhapsody - Symphony Of Enchanted Lands

Year of Release: 1998
Label: Limb Music Products
Catalog Number: LMP 9810 007
Format: CD
Total Time: 54:26:00

The scope and detail of this work makes it impossible for me to speak about it in anything but overall terms. There are sure to be things that I overlook for the sake of things I do want to say that those already at least familiar with Rhapsody, if not with this album, will point out. And, for brevity's sake, I won't delineate the story - the scope of that is also far and wide (and yes, this is being brief).

With all the splendor of a Rick Wakeman epic, all the heightened drama of a Andrew Lloyd Webber play, all the fantastic elements of Tolkien, and the metal punch of any one of a dozen prog metal bands, Rhapsody give us their Symphony Of Enchanted Lands. Now, that last isn't to say they sound like any one of dozen bands, though there are moments when I thought of Angra. Vocalist Fabio Leone has a wonderful voice, not unlike Angra's own Andre Matos, though with not the same feminine overtones. Of course, the Angra comparison isn't too far off as Sascha Paeth has held producer duties for both. There are moments here, too, that remind me of Iron Maiden, if a bit more symphonic than Iron Maiden get. The violin elements will bring Kansas to mind, to boot.

Symphony isn't an album you merely listen to, it is an album you experience, you live through. Under the right conditions, you are subsumed by the music and transported to its milieu. And you can't take it all in at one or two sittings, (and I can't hope to cover in this review all that you'll find). It takes accomplished musicians to achieve that effect, for with lesser musicians you focus on the technicality of their playing rather than the emotional effect. Meaning, if you're noticing a sour note here and there, then the album has lost its effectiveness. Which isn't to suggest that you can't marvel at the musician's talent of course, you can't help but notice spectacular playing as well.

Appreciation for classical metal is a unique gift, as most average rock fans won't have the patience - they want hummable and catchy refrains - lyrics they learn in a minute to sing along with in the car. (Okay, I'll admit that I do that, too). Classical or classically influenced music to them is overblown. These are the same audiences that don't "get" Shakespeare.

If you're reading this, you're the converted, at least to the genre, and I've no need to preach to you.

This is beautifully composed and presented music, containing what has to be the most elaborate booklet I've seen - the story and lyrics laid out against a panoramic fantasy landscape - and that's just one side. The reverse has artistic photos of the band. This shows you not only the care that went into the presentation, but they can back it up with the execution.

Just touching upon a few of the elements here, mainly to whet your appetite: The album opens with the instrumental "Epicus Furor," where a loping keyboard run by Alex Staropoli becomes epic and symphonic, backed by a choir. This melds into the galloping "Emerald Sword" (which was released as a single as well!). Daniele Carbonera's drumming and Alessandro Lott's bass work keeps the track moving at a frenetic, yet controlled pace, while keyboards, guitars, and strings swirl about. For the most part, that is the way to describe most of the tracks here - though each does have a slightly different character. Carbonera's frenetic drumming is the most consistent element in that it is a device used in most of the tracks. Some exceptions are "Heroes Of The Lost Valley" which has two parts. The first, instrumental part, is very baroque sounding - winds take the lead over keys. The second part begins with narration by Sir Jay Lansford, and this is the least effective aspect. While his diction is clear, his voice seems far too young - or maybe we've become to expectant of older English men providing the narration (e.g. Patrick Stewart with Wakeman's recent Return To The Centre Of The Earth).

The title suite that closes out the album is the most varied section of the work, containing some of the most beautiful musical passages. As it should be, it is the centerpiece, the point to which all else was leading.

I won't mislead you and tell you that this is the best thing I've ever heard, as there is a lot that sounds "samey" from track to track, and I suppose if I sat and listened to it over and over again with an eye to nit-pick, I'd find something. But, overall, it is a great work of art, and comes very highly recommended.

Epicus Furor (1:14) / Emerald Sword (4:21) / Wisdom Of The Kings (4:20) / Heroes Of The Lost Valley (2:04) / Eternal Glory (7:20) / Beyond The Gates Of Infinity (7:24) / Wings of Destiny (4:28) / The Dark Tower Of Abyss (6:47) / Riding The Winds of Eternity (4:13) / Symphony Of Enchanted Lands (13:47)

Luca Turilli - guitars
Alex Staropoli - keyboards
Daniele Carbonera - drums
Fabio Lione - vocals
Alessandro Lotta - bass
Constanze Vaniyne - baroque vocals (10)
Erik Steenbock - marching drums
Manuel Staropoli - baroque recorder and oboe
S?ren Leupold - baroque lute
Matthias Brommann - lead violin
Claas Harders - viola de gamba
Sascha Paeth - balalaika, acoustic guitars, and mandolin
Sir Jay Lansford - narrator
Russian Choirs by The Original Don Kosaken
Sacred Choirs by Helmstedter Kammerchor; Andreas Lamben, conductor
Choirs by Thomas Rettke, Robert Hunecke, Miro, Ricky Rizzo, Cinzia Rizzo, Tatiana Bloch, Davide Calabrese, Michele Mayer, Guiland Tarlon, Cristiano Adacher, Manuel Staropoli, Fabio Leone, Alex Starpoli, and Luca Turilli
Strings ensemble: violins - Ulrike Wildenhof, Almut Schlicker, Stefanie Holk, Friedrike Bauer, Matthias Brommann; violas - Marie-Theres Strumpf, Cosima Bergk, Jan Larsen; cello - Hagen Kuhr; contra bass - Andr? Neygenfind; cembald - Stefan Horz

Legendary Tales (1997)
Symphony Of Enchanted Lands (1998)
Dawn Of Victory (2000)
Rain Of A Thousand Flames (2001)
Power Of The Dragonflame (2002)
The Dark Secret (2004)
Symphony Of Enchanted Lands II: The Dark Secret (2004)
Rhapsody Of Fire - Triumph Or Agony (The Dark Secret Saga, Part II) (2007)
Rhapsody Of Fire - The Frozen Tears Of Angels (2010)

Rhapsody Of Fire - Visions From The Enchanted Lands (DVD) (2007)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin IT

Added: February 20th 2000
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.mightyrhapsody.com
Hits: 1215
Language: english


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