Rhapsody - Symphony of Enchanted Lands II

Year of Release: 2004
Label: Steamhammer / SPV
Catalog Number: 69612
Format: CD
Total Time: 72:48:00

It is seamless. The integration of pure metal with orchestras and choirs on this CD is just seamless! Rhapsody's music has always delivered the grandest and most ambitious soundscapes in all of progressive metal - and Symphony of Enchanted Lands II outdoes everything that came before it.

This is a blending of sci-fi and fantasy themes the over the top pomposity of huge classical panoramas that melt into guitar and keyboard driven metal, and the faultless vocals of Fabio Lione - metal singer extraordinaire. There is more of a pure classical orientation to this album than any of Rhapsody's eight prior albums, and those vast vistas of sound are backdrops for the brilliant metal played in the foreground.

As with most Rhapsody albums, this one is a concept within a concept, which means the storyline on each CD stands alone, but forms part of a saga that will spread across multiple CDs. The yarn on this one revolves around a demon prince who produced seven books of evil, six have been found, only the seventh - the worst - remains, and must be found by the good guys. There are voices that sound like Gollum, a princess from the Land Of Enchanted Waterfalls, there's only one person who can find the ring - er - book ? is any of this sounding familiar? No actual hobbits inhabit this story, but they may as well. There is a trek across snow covered mountains, seven immortal demons are turned to stone ? the dungeons and dragons elements are all there. Suffice it to say that you probably won't buy the album for the story, but the concept does add important textures to the music.

Each component of the drama is described by a different sound, and the album is rich with traditional-style melodies, folksy ditties, power ballads, devils that sound like Disney's "Beast," and heavy metal. Wrap all of that in an operatic grandeur, call it Hollywood metal, and you have Rhapsody.

British actor Christopher (Saruman) Lee narrates parts of the story, and his rich baritone and perfect diction lend enormous credence to the project. Narrative usually gets in the way of music and you're sick of it after a few replays - but that doesn't happen here because the spoken parts are sensibly kept to a minimum. A favorite moment on the record is "The Magic Of The Wizard's Dream" which features a duet sung between Fabio Lione and operatically-trained Christopher Lee.

I've always felt that Rhapsody's music revolves around guitarist Luca Turilli, and that legacy continues. The brilliant guitar work that is so much more than high-speed wankery carries melodies on the tips of the arpeggios and there are long passages with excellent interplays between his guitar and the keyboards and the orchestra. Very classical. Luca and Alex Staropoli (keyboards and co-composer) completed this massive production in studios in England, the Czech Republic, Belgium and Germany. The 50-piece choir sounds similar to the choirs they used in the past, and they have employed a full-strength philharmonic orchestra from the Czech Republic. The music is still based in progressive or power metal, but the choir and orchestra are far more impressive - more organic, and less a product of ProTools.

Rhapsody's recent EP The Dark Secret contained slightly different versions of several of the tracks as well as some of the narrative on this album, and you could be excused for feeling jilted by having to pay twice for what sounds like the same songs in less than a few months.

Symphony of Enchanted Lands II just may be the most over the top piece of prog ever produced - but you have to love it. The melodies are memorable, the execution is gorgeous, and the production is faultless. If - and only if -you're into big sounds, symphonic metal, and sci-fi and fantasy, then this is a must-have. This perfectly represents the intersection of modern and classical music - and the blend is seamless!

The Dark Secret / IRA DIVINA: Unholy Warcry / Never Forgotten Heroes / Elgard's Green Valleys / The Magic Of The Wizards Dream / Erian's Mystical Rhymes / THE WHITE DRAGON'S ORDER: The Last Angels' Call / Dragonland's Rivers / Sacred Power Of Raging Winds / Guardiani Del Destino / Shadows Of Death / Nightfall On The Grey Mountains

Fabio Lione - vocals
Luca Turilli - guitar
Alex Staropoli -keyboards
Patrice Guers - bass
Alex Holzwarth - drums

Special Guests:

Dominique Leurquin -guitar
Christopher Lee - vocals / narrative

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: September 19th 2004
Reviewer: Duncan N Glenday
Artist website: www.mightyrhapsody.com/
Hits: 1342
Language: english


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