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