Rhapsody Of Fire - Legendary Years

Rhapsody Of Fire - Legendary Years

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(CD, AFM Records, 2017)

For reasons I am not aware of, RHAPSODY have split into versions and are both active, something I think should be good news for the fans of this band (basically, getting double the music). However, all the Metal genres with the term ‘epic’ in the description suffer from - what I call - the "die-hard fans" disease. These die-hard fans have learned to love a specific type of music and do not really accept deviations from what they think (and like) as norm. Normally, this would not be an issue but in some cases there is an unbearable pressure to the band to write the ‘right’ music and look in no other direction. We can debate for hours on how a musician should follow his instincts or just please the fans to honor the legacy of the band but really, there is no right or wrong - there is either you like it or don’t. So, having that in mind, one can safely approach “Legendary Years” by RHAPSODY OF FIRE who decided to re-record a hearty number of classics.

Yes, re-recording earlier works is an anathema in the Metal scene as many metalheads consider the first albums / demos / songs as something sacred and hence untouchable. Well, I almost agree, but at the same time if a band believes that there is worth / reason in revisiting some of the old material, then I am open to give it try. In the case of RHAPSODY OF FIRE, the reason is pretty straightforward; there is a new lineup and, most importantly, a new singer, so getting a chance to present how everything sounds and how they perceive their music was more than enough to convince me and let this sacrilegious act slip through the cracks. It is also worth mentioning that I had lost track of RHAPSODY and its both versions, so my baseline is really made by the majority of the songs in “Legendary Years”. Yeah, the fast riff in “Dawn Of Victory” woke some nice memories when I was introduced to this Italian band almost two decades ago. The first think you’ll notice is that the guitars are a step forward as compared to the original and then the different singing. The first difference comes in line with Alex Staropoli talking about making the sound a bit modern with a clearer production. Although the term modern mixing with Epic Metal feels like what oil does with water, so this should be regarded as making the sound more accessible without being over-loaded, like it happened in the older recordings. I guess this is how I perceive the re-recorded version without saying one is better than the other; it is different and this is a huge plus because otherwise making a better recording of an already hit-song would have been a futile attempt. I mean, nothing can beat the first impression a song made to you, so there is nothing to change this. “Emerald Song” works exactly like this and you’ll hear that the orchestral parts (especially during the guitar solo) have taken a step backwards in the mix but - fear not - the chorus is still epic and grandeur.

What I think is the biggest difference in RHAPSODY OF FIRE is the singer; first of all, Giacomo Voli possesses the right set of pipes to go as high as the songs demand and pitch-wise he does have a range close to Fabio Lione’s. But the striking difference between the two gentlemen is the accent; Fabio has a distinct pronunciation which was hand in hand with his Italian ancestry, so the English words had a slightly different (characteristic) sound. Giacomo’s singing is friendlier to the English / American speaking people and especially to those who cannot stand anything other than the language they are speaking. So, for these ears, Giacomo’s pronunciation will be mostly welcomed and I believe in the US can help the band expand its fanbase. For me, losing that characteristic took away part of the unique identity RHAPSODY had and made them so special because it fitted really well with all the Baroque / Neoclassical elements in their music. I mean, listening to my personal favorite “Holy Thunderforce”, I truly miss how Fabio delivered the opening lyric line “Face me evil bastards, smell the hate of angels” but I want to stress out that is solely on the eye (ear) of the beholder.

So, there is no final verdict on “Legendary Years” (ergo no rating) because these are re-recordings of some killer songs. However, listening to this collection rekindled my interest for the band and made me re-check and in the process appreciate more the previous LP “Into The Legend”. On top of this, the new lineup sounds really charged (from the way they attack the songs), so now I am excited to see how the new RHAPSODY OF FIRE album will sound.





01. Dawn Of Victory
02. Knightrider Of Doom
03. Flames Of Revenge
04. Beyond The Gates Of Infinity
05. Land Of Immortals
06. Emerald Sword
07. Legendary Tales
08. Dargor, Shadowlord Of The Black Mountain
09. When Demons Awake
10. Wings Of Destiny
11. Riding The Winds Of Eternity
12. The Dark Tower Of Abyss
13. Holy Thunderforce
14. Rain Of A Thousand Flames


Alex Staropoli - Keyboards, Harpsichord, Piano
Roberto De Micheli - Guitar
Alessandro Sala - Bass
Manuel Lotter - Drums
Giacomo Voli - Vocals