Legendary Tales

When I first inserted this disc into my player there are no words to describe what I felt. The disc begins with Ira Tenax, an intro with harpsichord, pipe organ, and haunting monk chanting. Because dread atmosphere this intro emancipates, it felt like I would be consumed by evil. And just when I thought I was going to shit my pants, a powerful and majestic vocal performance breaks the dark trance with the beginning of the song Warrior of Ice.

The album itself is extremely varied. In the first song alone there are trumpet anthems, tender parts with flutes and soft singing, baroque sections, and old-fashioned power metal sections. The influences range from Baroque (especially Vivaldi), Celtic folk music, Eastern European folk music, and traditional power metal. The first song, "Warrior of Ice," even has hints of Europe's "The Final Countdown."

One thing I should point out is that all of the traditional instruments such as flutes, violins, violas, cellos, piano, and small choir parts are all real and not keyboards. The big sounding parts with full choir and full symphony are produced by a keyboard. And the parts with obscure or hard-to-find instruments such as harpsichords are and pipe organs are keyboards as well, although the harpsichord sample sounds remarkably real.

If you are not familiar with power metal vocals you are certain to hate them. Power metal vocals are unique in the way it is actual singing and requires talent to perform. Fabio Lione flawlessly belts out the melodies and complements the music most of the time. There are parts where the vocal patterns are uninspired and take the back seat to the music. There are also lots of parts with annoying mispronunciations: such as "veh-le-ant" instead of "vah-le-ant" for the word valiant. But songs like "Legendary Tales" show moments of absolute brilliance as a result of his sincerity to the music and the emotion of the music. While Fabio Lione is no Eric Adams he is certainly more than adequate. There is also a small choir doing backing sections throughout the entire CD, which is always a gratifying to hear, and make the powerful moments seem much more powerful.

The guitar playing on this album is incredible. Some of the riffs are fairly simple but usually when they are taking a back seat to the symphonic elements and vocals. The solos are where Luca Turilli's playing really shines. A hundred sweeps and a thousand scales per second, and he always chooses the perfect notes. There are even parts with two simultaneous solos in harmony. It should also be mentioned that Sascha Paeth from Heaven's Gate performed bass on this recording as well as recorded it and produced it.

The drumming is really nothing fantastic. Usually slow to mid-paced. Sometimes the drumming gets semi-technical with oddly timed beats. There are many "double-bass following double-picking" parts. The whole kit is triggered except for the hi hats and symbols, which is possibly why the drums are uninteresting as a whole.

Lyrics are set in a fantasy world and this is a concept album. By the end of each album henceforth the hero will have captured at least one more key, or jewel, or whatever in the journey to his ultimate goal: to secure peace for his land. The whole concept is unoriginal and the execution of the concept is even worse. But at least you know, at heart, they are doing the whole mandatory "swords and sorcery" thing.

In the end I have to say, "buy this now or I will swallow your soul." This album is one of the smartest investments I have ever made. It remains listenable even after months of non-stop usage. Rhapsody really raised the bar in the power metal genre and in metal period. While it has weak parts and is not what I would call the Holy Grail of metal releases, it is one of the best metal releases of the 1990's.

2000 dylan darkcrown