Rhapsody of Fire
The Frozen Tears of Angels

Years ago, while working in a hobbit cave otherwise known as a CD store, I came across a disc by Rhapsody, whose name was unknown to me at the time.  The cover depicted an imp guy with a scythe riding a demonic-looking dragon through a bubbly purple sky, and, written in a sword, the album title glinted at me from the bottom: Emerald Sword.  I thought, “Fuck, this looks awesome,” and picked it up.  And if the majestic album cover wasn’t enough to entice me to buy it, the little sticker reading “Epic Symphonic Hollywood Metal” surely was.  Thus began my torrid journey into the world of symphonic power metal, and it is to this chance encounter that I attribute my crappy taste in metal now.

That all being said, I haven’t paid much attention to Rhapsody of Fire since 2003 or so (since they were still known just as Rhapsody, basically), so I have no clue how similar or dissimilar their newest masterpiece, The Frozen Tears of Angels, is to its predecessor.  I was not surprised to find that after so much time slaying mighty beasts and searching for truth in an epic fantasy metal world created by mastermind Luca Turilli, Rhapsody of Fire are pretty set in their ways, although it does seem they’ve matured a bit and left a few of the signature over-the-top Rhapsody flourishes behind.

“Sea of Fate,” for example, is more streamlined and less ornamental than your typical Rhapsody of Fire fare, but it (like most others from The Frozen Tears of Angels) features some incredibly intricate guitar work that is more modern and less baroque-themed, which is a huge departure from the band’s early material.  However, skipping back to the beginning of the album, “Dark Frozen World” is about as epic as a symphonic opening piece can be, and includes narration by the great Christopher Lee, whose voice continually becomes darker and more refined with age.  With this voice, he brings to light the tale of the Dark Secret Saga, which is a continuation of the series he began narrating in 2004.

Going back to chronological order, we are graced with “Crystal Moonlight” next, and it’s essentially what one would expect from a Rhapsody of Fire tune: furiously, gloriously building layers of guitar and keyboards, dripping with Fabio Lione’s passionate vocals, and a chorus rich enough to lather on with a loofah.  The riffs and patterns on this one — and the next — bring to mind Power of the Dragonflame-era material, though Turilli’s guitar wizardry is more standout and a bit less classically-oriented.  And now, if it could ever be said that Rhapsody created a ripper, “Reign of Terror” would be it.  Truly blisternig guitar sections blaze over darker passages filled with organs and dark choirs, and atop that, Lione belts out a black metal screech like he’s been the man behind Dani Filth’s ugly mask for years.  It’d be a good tune with just clean vocals, but the harsher ones really give “Reign of Terror” the fire it needs.

“Danza di Fuoco e Ghiaccio,” a light medieval piece, begins with more regaling of the Dark Secret Saga by Sir Lee, leads into a minstrel-type musical section complete with Italian lyrics (the meaning of which I don’t know), eventually gives way to a section filled with Turilli’s masterful picking, and crescendos in a brilliant, shining union of voices and instruments.  “Raging Starfire,” on the other hand, scorches from the get-go in true Turilli-Staropoli Rhapsody of Fire fashion, and should please diehard fans if the other tracks haven’t yet done the trick.

“Lost in Cold Dreams,” the ballad of The Frozen Tears of Angels relies heavily on Lione’s incredibly emotional voice for power, as the backing material consists mainly of acoustic guitar, minimal drumming and light keyboard effects until the back half of the song.  The interesting thing about this one is its relatively slow tempo, which goes to prove the maturation of Rhapsody‘s material.  “On the Way to Ainor” is another scorcher in the vein of “Raging Starfire,” but, like the prior track, its tempo is slower in parts, which complements the galloping pomp of the rest of the tune nicely.

Now, onto the 11-minute title track.  Musically, “The Frozen Tears of Angels” essentially chronicles the entire journey of the saga’s heroes.  It soars, falls, marches, fights, triumphs and rips.  This song is the definition of epic, combining all traditional Rhapsody of Fire elements in a modern twist.  It’s the musical equivalent of the hero triumphing over evil, riding into the sunset on horseback with buxom maiden in tow, steel glinting in the setting sun.  It’s the end of the album, but those privy enough to have gotten a special edition of The Frozen Tears of Angels, however, are treated to two bonus tracks.  “Labyrinth of Madness” is a properly titled instrumental showcasing Turilli’s insane guitar prowess, and the instrumental version of “Sea of Fate” is a grandiose, film score-like adaptation of the tune, and a perfect ending to the journey.

In summation, Rhapsody of Fire fans will be (and have been) pleased with The Frozen Tears of Angels, and anyone looking to get into the band may as well start here, as it’s most likely the group’s most expertly composed, mature work to date.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jodi Van Walleghem
August 18th, 2010

Comments

  1. Commented by: Clauricaune

    sounded solid, yet very standard for me. nothing new nor exciting, just Rhapsody being Rhapsody.


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