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Few bands do "epic" as grandiosely flamboyant as Italy's Rhapsody of Fire but, by fuck, is their new album, 'From Chaos To Eternity', epic. So much so it shits epic from the first bar of music with Luca Turilli's virtuosic fretboard shredding as instrumentation is built up over his speedy arpeggios before the welcome sound of Sir Christopher Lee's resonant tones. His short introductory narration climaxes with the snarled line - "his rage cracked the earth" - which gives way to a choir interposed with metal parts, finally seguing into first song good and proper, the album's title track, which opens again with more flawlessly executed guitar virtuosity. Rhapsody of Fire's sound, their self-proclaimed style of "film score metal" is so sonically massive here they've excelled themselves. Sends shivers down the spine. Seriously. I know that many will find this all a little too ostentatious but, for me, it epitomises everything that's great about symphonic metal. Incredible songwriting, keyboardist Alex Staropoli's majestic orchestrations, Fabio Lione's histrionic vocals (which seem to get better with each new release), Alex Holzwarth's varied drumming that's restrained when required but lets rip at all the right moments, Patrice Guers poundingly effective basslines, the aforementioned Turilli's breathtaking virtuosity together with new member Tom Hess who also displays his fretboard finesse in abundance. And guitars are key to this album as Rhapsody of Fire's intention was to create a more guitar-centric album with Turilli quoted on the press sheet as saying - "We cut back the bombast to a certain extent, let the guitars blast stronger again, put emphasis rather on basic rock". That's true to a degree, and the guitars are discernibly more prominent in the mix with many passages being guitar-led (just listen to the opening of the first four tracks, for example) but they have also been integrated and deployed as part of the overall instrumentations. So fear not Rhapsody aficionados, the band's core sound remains intact on 'From Chaos To Eternity'; it's just that it's a lot harder hitting than ever before. Also of note is that this release marks the climax of the 'Emerald Sword Saga' that commenced back in 1997 with the band's debut album, 'Legendary Tales'. It's perhaps fitting then that the final track here is an epic near-twenty minute piece that is book-ended with Sir Christopher's narration, surely the final time he'll ever be heard on a Rhapsody of Fire album as all the utterances they had him record a few years back is exclusively linked to the 'Emerald Sword Saga'. A sad moment? Maybe and maybe not as it's an intriguing thought to see what aesthetic the Italians bind themselves to next. For now, though, revel in the final instalment of their fantasy saga. Leave any sense of austerity and pretension at the door and enjoy the fun ride that is 'From Chaos To Eternity'.
Nuclear Blast
Review by Mark Holmes
17th June 2011
1) Ad Infinitum
2) From Chaos To Eternity
3) Tempesta Di Fuoco
4) Ghosts of Forgotten Worlds
5) Anima Perduta
6) Aeons of Raging Darkness
7) I Belong to the Stars
8) Tornado
9) Heroes of the Waterfalls' Kingdom
"Rhapsody of Fire's sound, their self-proclaimed style of "film score metal" is so sonically massive here they've excelled themselves."