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Thunderous and raging. - 91%

hells_unicorn, May 12th, 2009

Rhapsody had a pretty good set up when it came to releasing their singles, which consisted of a solid speed metal riff injected anthem drenched in Neo-baroque harmonies and symphonic orchestrations via keyboard and live instruments. It’s probably among the most formulaic of approaches within the power metal sound as it existed at this point and time, but it was a format that this band pioneered and they exploit it very well. Everything is fairly predictable and easy to follow, particularly when the bombastic epic fanfare choruses kick in, but the entire experience is a load of fun.

“Holy Thunderforce” is a heavier though equally as catchy answer to “Land Of Immortals”, focusing a bit more on hard edged riffing at the lower end than melodic lead passages, and also featuring a more rugged and gritty vocal delivery out of Lione. The chorus definitely sticks to more of a catchy and epic feel like all of the others, but comes off as more of a gang chorus than the high end tenor harmonies heard on most of the single oriented songs heard on the first two albums. Out of all the straight up songs with minimal lead work, clocking in at 5 minutes or less, heard out of this band this is the most bare bones, though it still comes off as quite grandiose if the basis of comparison is older German/US speed metal acts such as Running Wild, Grave Digger or Helstar.

The two b-sides on here are actually slightly more interesting than the title song, which runs in direct contrast with the “Emerald Sword” single. The extended version of “Dargor - Shadowlord Of The Black Mountain” essentially transforms what was another candidate for the a-side of a single into a highly Progressive and technical shred fest that parallels the chops displayed by Malmsteen and Jens Johannsen. Likewise, the alternate version of “Rage Of The Winter” sounds a lot less flowery and a lot more powerful than the original. The vocal lines have been altered a bit and are less repetitive, the symphonic passages are much clearer and brighter, and the acoustic guitar has been replaced with a driving line of power chords that completely changes the atmosphere into something much colder and more forbidding. The result is actually not all that dissimilar to what was accomplished on Fairyland’s “Doryan The Enlightened”, which likely used this song as its model.

If you like Rhapsody or any of the many Italian and French symphonic power metal bands that they’ve influenced, this is something that would be worth tracking down even if you own “Dawn Of Victory” and “Legendary Tales”. The way that the landscapes of the original versions of the two b-sides has been altered is so significant and to the betterment of each that I’d go so far as to call them essential listening for a fan of this style. Much like their Spanish counterparts Dark Moor, these guys reigned supreme in the late 90s and early 2000s in European power metal circles, and are the best at what they do.

Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on May 12, 2009.

2 parts meat, 1 part bun - 94%

OSheaman, August 9th, 2003

I suppose I understand why Rhapsody made this single release. Two of the songs on here are really worth special mention, and there's nothing wrong with doing so.

This is Rhapsody as Rhapsody is supposed to be. None of the overly-synthetic fluff of Legendary Tales; instead, we have a solid Power Metal sound with fantastic (and audible) guitar and keyboard work and some really sweet solos. The drummer has two speed settings: really fast and fast as fuck. I'm not complaining here, though, because with all of the excellent orchestration and everything, Rhapsody's sound is the fully mature one that has come to lead the cheesy Power Metal scene.

Two of the songs on here kick tremendous ass. Holy Thunderforce is a typical Rhapsody opener with a lightning-fast, catchy-as-hell guitar number and then the eruption of dums and bass after about four bars. Dargor, Swadowlord of the Black Mountains is an extended version of an already very cool song with a really sweet opening riff that rivals those of Steel Attack's openers, and a chorus that is *nearly* as cool as the one in Emerald Sword. It's very catchy and enjoyable. Rage of the Winter is too synthy and fluffy for my tastes, as I explained in Legendary Tales, so this is the only song on here that I don't really enjoy.

Overall, though, this is a very worthy single for the collection of any Power metal fan. Rhapsody never sounded sa good, and the epic numbers are pinnacles of Power Metal mastery.

Dargor Rules!!!! - 92%

keeperoflamu, March 29th, 2003

This is the opening single for the album "Dawn of Victory", and it was very interesting, most of all when the album was out, because of the GREAT version of "Dargor, Shadowlord..."!
While "Holy Thunderforce" is the same of the one you can find in the full lenght, this song is very very differet from the album version! the lyrics, the interludes, the vocal lines and part of arrangements make this track totally original.... and totally GOOOOOD!!!!! I love it! the only things that doesn' t change is the chorus!
Also "Rage of the Winter" stands here dissimilar from the one we knew!
It' s more symphonic and, as before, the lyrics are quite unlike, and the vocal lines are not always the same, except for the chorus!!!
The song is sung by Lione, but, swimming in internet, I have found some people saying this version is the one recorded for the demo "Eternal Glory".