Rhapsody - Dawn Of Victory

Year of Release: 2000
Label: Limb Music
Catalog Number: LMP 0010-023
Format: CD
Total Time: 46:13:00

Dawn Of Victory is the third chapter in Rhapsody's fantasy epic that began with 1997's Legendary Tales, continued with 1998's Symphony Of Enchanted Lands. There is a sense from the way this chapter ends, that the story isn't yet over.

Rhapsody is one of those bands that just ooze class. Though the review copy doesn't contain the full booklet (including the lyrics), I imagine that it is an elaborate production as was done for Symphony. The mix of classical elements and metal elements is just right again here. The dark violence of the album cover is a departure from the Nordic influenced heroic artwork that graced the previous two. This is a much darker chapter than the other two, I feel. I'm only familiar with "chapter two" at this point (other than scanning the booklet of "chapter 1"), but whereas Symphony concerned the quest for the "Emerald Sword," Dawn is the epic battle between good and evil. Like a movie that you don't want to give away the ending to, I won't give away the ending to this.

At times I thought of Iron Maiden, of Kansas, of Queen and, of course, of opera. Rhapsody's music is lush...so lush it gives new meaning to the word. Even if you think the rapid-fire drumming is an over used device to create that muscular, heroic feeling, the symphonic accents, the smooth choral voices, the impressive guitar playing more than make up for it. But, Alex Holzwarth does more than just play a jackhammer, he uses the full kit, and yet I can't get over how much his playing style gives nearly every track a bedrock of Maidenisms. Anyway, with all the classical elements, he'd have to be more dynamic than simple "bash-bash", else the music would sound very weird. He replaces Daniele Carbonera who sat behind the kit for the previous chapters, by the way.

The album opens with a bit of narration and the chorus singing the overture of "Lux Triumphans," having gained the Emerald Sword, the hero (Arwald?) makes for Ancelot to do battle with the forces of evil. This battle, or at least the call to battle, is the title track, which is where Rhapsody first sound like a symphonic Iron Maiden. The rhythm lopes like, well, like a thousand pounding hooves, racing to enjoin the enemy in battle. See the swords slice through the air, see the evil hell-spawn creatures (or so I gather from that cover) split in two like they were butter, blood splattering warm and steaming upon the cold earth. If I tell you that I recently saw Gladiator and Dragonheart, can remember and Braveheart, and Branagh's Henry V you can imagine the battle imagery I'm imagining.

It is during "Triumph For My Magic Steel" that I thought of Kansas, perhaps mainly because of the violin parts by Maggie Ardoft - her playing has that romantic, sweet, and yet meaty sound that Robby Steinhardt has. "The Village Of Dwarves" is medieval with the sound of harpsichord. Ardorf's violin returns to great effect, followed by more harpsichord work from Staropoli. But don't think that Rhapsody have "gone soft" as they are as metal as ever, as evidenced by "Dargor, Shadowlord Of The Black Mountain" which is back to the classic Iron Maiden feel, if Iron Maiden used big, warm, choral bits. "Dargor" is a rousing song, telling us that bigger battles loom ahead. The keyboard work here makes me wonder if Staropoli has extra, mechanical fingers on his hand as he gives new meaning to tinkling the ivories. And let us not overlook Luca Turilli's guitar - smokin'.

"The Bloody Rage Of The Titans" is at first sad and melancholy, reflective... but sadness becomes resolve, as the music becomes determined, not angry, but determined. There is also a very light, pastoral moment here that you would think sounds out of place, but it doesn't - it signifies either real spring, or a protective enchantment by the enemy to thwart our hero. "Holy Thunderforce," which is the track that was released as a single, is where I thought of Queen, specifically of "Mustapha" from Jazz...only much more testosterone fueled - angry, raging, and not without a large amount of bravado. Our hero pridefully challenges his enemy to do battle.

"Trolls In The Dark" is the lone instrumental. Again Turilli takes to the battle with his stringed axe, slashing and cutting his way through nimble fingered licks...I guess the hero is going trolling. Harpsichord and the jackhammer drums blast us into "The Last Winged Unicorn." My favourite track overall is the last one on the album, the beautiful and powerful "The Might Ride Of The Firelord." It contains all the elements of the rest of album, rolls them all together for an epic conclusion.

By the way, each time I listened to "Village," I kept thinking to myself that it sounded vaguely familiar. Well, at least the rhythm of it and the beats of Lione's delivery for the verses. But, it wasn't something that matched up with a memory of a previous Rhapsody song or one of some other prog metal band, of that I was sure. I wracked my brain, a fragment of lyric in my mind that wasn't part of this song. After about twenty minutes, fractionally giving up twice, and two misfires, I hit upon it. This track reminded me of a track off of Honeymoon Suite's The Big Prize, "All Along You Knew."* Just the verses, and of course the context is different obviously. The Rhapsody track is more medieval sounding and beefier with the epic choir.

Rhapsody have come up with another winner, I think. Sure, Lione's accented English makes the lyrics hard to follow if you don't have them in front of you (I visited their section of the Limb site), but one gets the sense of what is going on just from his tone, his emphasis and the rhythm and pace of the music. If heroic fantasy is your thing, then Rhapsody is your thing. Excellent stuff.

* Jethro Tull fans might want to note that Ian Anderson played guest flute on this Honeymoon Suite track, and album produced by the late Bruce Fairburn who also produced Yes' The Ladder.

Released also by SPV/InsideOut (SPV 085-41322)

Lux Triumphans (2:00) / Dawn Of Victory (4:45) / Triumph For My Magic Steel (5:44) / The Village Of Dwarves (3:42) / Dargor, Shadowlord Of The Black Mountain (4:43) / The Bloody Rage Of The Titans (6:24) / Holy Thunderforce (4:22) / Trolls In The Dark (Instrumental) (2:24) / The Last Winged Unicorn (5:34) / The Mighty Ride Of The Firelord (8:35)

Luca Turilli - guitars
Alex Staropoli - keyboards, harpsichord, piano
Fabio Lione - vocals
Alessandro Lotta - bass
Alex Holzwarth - drums
Constanze Backes - baroque voice
Laurence Vanryne - childish voice (8)
Manuel Staropoli - baroque recorders
Maggie Ardorf - lead violin
Thunderforce - drums

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: January 1st 2001
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.rhapsodyoffire.com
Hits: 697
Language: english


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