Rhapsody of Fire – Into the Legend (AFM)Monday, 18th January 2016
When it comes to bombastic, orchestral metal, Rhapsody of Fire has to be one of the flag-bearers. Even with all the name variations over the years (including the split off of Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody) could not seem to sway the band’s penchant for the neoclassical, over-the-top power metal. But 2013’s Dark Wings of Steel seemed a bit lackluster by the band’s standards. Perhaps it was the loss of Turilli, but it made some wonder if the band could deliver their usual high quality once more.
The aptly named Into the Legend taps into what made the first few Rhapsody of Fire albums tick. Epic, sweeping orchestrations and choirs lend themselves to a rather massive and energized sound that seemingly revisits their past successes. “Distant Sky” wastes no time before heading into symphonics-heightened shred on the guitar end and a soaring Fabio Lione-led chorus. It’s a punchy opener that effectively sets the stage for the rest of the album to come, with full speed ahead riffing and impressive solos never in short supply. Mid-tempo chugger “Winter’s Rain” is a nice change of pace from the usually speedier material, and the blend of the orchestra, choir, and Lione’s vocals create quite an anthem. 16-minute finale “The Kiss of Light” also benefits from some more mid-tempo work, alongside some acoustic moments. Of course, there’s a ballad to be had, and “Shining Star” gives Lione a bit more room to flex his vocals.
Rhapsody of Fire still sounds like Rhapsody (of Fire), and Into the Legend shouldn’t take much effort in order to sway long-term fans over. Even those who may have been disappointed by Dark Wings should find this a welcome return to the fold. A reminder of why high-fantasy, scorching guitar work, and cinematic scope are so synonymous with this band.