Monday, July 11, 2011

Rhapsody Of Fire - From Chaos To Eternity

Rhapsody Of Fire
From Chaos To Eternity
Nuclear Blast Records/Riot! Entertainment/Warner Music Australia

After a two year hiatus that resulted in a less than amicable parting of ways with Magic Circle Music (The label run by Manowar bassist Joey DeMaio), Italian symphonic/orchestral power metal Rhapsody Of Fire wasted little time signing up with German label Nuclear Blast Records and releasing both a new album (2010’s ‘The Frozen Tears Of Angels’) and an E.P. (2010’s ‘The Cold Embrace Of Fear’) to make up for the lengthy wait for a follow up to their ‘Triumph Or Agony’ album from way back in 2006.
Rhapsody Of Fire’s lack of studio activity has obviously allowed the band to spend their time focussing on writing, with the six piece act (Comprising of vocalist Fabio Lione, guitarists Luca Turilli and Tom Hess, bassist Patrice Guers, keyboardist Alex Staropoli and drummer Alex Holzwarth) back with a rather quick follow-up to last year’s full-length effort with a new album in ‘From Chaos To Eternity’.
Aside from having something new from the band, what’s got fans really excited about Rhapsody Of Fire’s ninth full-length album is that it’s the final chapter of the band’s long running conceptual storyline that began on the band’s 1997 debut ‘Legendary Tales’. As you would expect, there’s a lot of hype surrounding ‘From Chaos To Eternity’, especially amongst the band’s hardcore fan base. And as usual, Rhapsody Of Fire manages to deliver on their promise of something special for the most part.
The album begins with the short introductory piece ‘Ad Infinitum’, which sees Sir Christopher Lee reprise his narrative role as Wizard King Uriel alongside a rather heavy and fast guitar showcase from the guitarists and some choir work. The title track ‘From Chaos To Eternity’ follows on immediately from ‘Ad Infinitum’ with the heavier guitar sound being maintained. But while the guitars have a starring role initially, it’s the strong and catchy song writing, Fabio’s powerful performance out front, the subtle aggressive vocals in the background and the overall intensity shown throughout the song that really makes this particular track stand out as one of the finest efforts the band have produced in a long time.
Both the Italian sung ‘Tempesta Di Fuoco’ (Which translates to ‘Firestorm’) and ‘Tornado’ are typically Rhapsody Of Fire fare with their blend of theatrics, orchestration and traditional power metal, while the Italian sung ‘Anima Perduta’ (‘Lost Soul’) is the album’s sole ballad, which is every bit as cinematic and heavily orchestrated as the band’s past efforts.
But while a large part of ‘From Chaos To Eternity’ is typically Rhapsody Of Fire kind of fare, the album does reveal some newer and more modern sounding influences within the band’s sound of old, specifically within the progressive tinged ‘Ghosts Of Forgotten Worlds’, the extremely heavy and black metal vocalised ‘Aeons Of Raging Darkness’ (Which is the first single released from the album) and the surprisingly catchy ‘I Belong To The Stars’. Whether or not these three tracks hint towards a musical direction the band may take in the future remains to be seen, but what is certain, is that they’re all quite different from what you would normally expect from the band, and their inclusion here gives the album a different feel.
Finishing off the album is the epic five piece suite ‘Heroes Of The Waterfalls’ Kingdom’, which sees a reprisal of Lee narrating the closing chapter of the lengthy story, which is closely followed by almost everything you could possibly think of (A bit of folk, power metal, symphonic theatrics, etc…) thrown into the song’s twenty minutes in length.
Although a solid effort, the narration is a little too corny in places, and the song feels a little too rushed (Especially towards the end), making it a bit of a letdown as a closer.
Overall, ‘From Chaos To Eternity’ is another solid album from Rhapsody Of Fire, and while some of the band’s newer influences may leave some a little perplexed, there's more than enough of the band’s core sound on offer here to keep fans more than pleased.

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© Justin Donnelly