Rhapsody Of Fire – “Into The Legend” (AFM Records)
Italian symphonic power metallers Rhapsody Of Fire have certainly been through their fair share of challenges in their time from name changes to losing key personnel like Luca Turilli heralding the beginning of two Rhapsodys (!) and more recently, the loss of bassist Oliver Holzwarth. Nevertheless, the core of keyboardist / composer Alex Staropoli, vocalist / lyricist Fabio Lione and drummer Alex Holzwarth have remained steady throughout. Moreover, since 2013’s “Dark Wings Of Steel”, Alex’s brother has also been involved increasingly in the composing as well as providing his own musical talent in baroque recorders! Gone is the film score metal now very much in the domain of Turilli’s own band, and instead on “Into The Legend” the band have now gone back to the symphonic power metal of their first four albums (which sold combined way over 1,000,000 copies), bringing to perfection what they started in 1997! If you like majestic neo classical orchestrations where armies of violins and cellos flow and clash violently, massive baroque/classical choirs and unashamed virtuoso playing then look to the reborn power metal glory of ‘Distant Sky’, the medieval folk wizardry of ‘A Voice In Cold Wind’ and my personal fave ‘Valley Of The Shadows’ complete with matching femme soprano vocals – definitive of classic Rhapsody! At times straying close to Manowar’s speedier classics in ‘Realms Of Light’ and Angra at their most neo classical on the fret board incinerating ‘Rage Of Darkness’ it all comes back to this legendary band who, in my opinion never got the huge mainstream recognition they deserve for their stupendous work. From Fabio Lione’s superb operatic vocals that provide the heart and passion, to Staropoli’s breathtaking compositions, not forgetting Alex Holzwarth’s faithful double bass drumming and new boy Alessandro Sala, who makes his presence felt through frantic bass runs, this is such a special band for me. Now back to one guitarist in Roby De Micheli, whose sound isn’t a million miles from Turilli’s own, his long awaited talent and virtuosity is unleashed both beautifully and beastfully is some dazzling guitar work – clearly a man who doesn’t want to live in a shadow and definitely wanting to make his mark on the world! Whatever the prior shaky ground of the past, the band have clearly gone for redemption on this album, sparing no expense in recording and bringing in Grammy-nominated Maor Appelbaum (Halford, Faith No More, Dokken) for its mastering. A complete masterpiece, “Into The Legend” see’s Rhapsody Of Fire definitely back on track to return to past glory!!