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As far as first albums go, this one is really good. Normally a first band's album is either bad or decent but nothing special. This one transcends this and really shows Rhapsody in good form. Personally I think that this tops Dawn of Victory, Power of the Dragonflame and Rain of A Thousand Flames. Luca Turilli and Alex Starpolli are truly gifted composers and song writers, and Fabio is a very gifted singer. This is one of the most talented bands I have ever heard; better than both Blind Guardian and Stratovarius.
It starts off with an opening instrumental which was probably a lot more controversial back then because it wasn't done much if at all. This leads into one of Rhapsody's best songs of all time, Warrior of Ice. This song embodies good symphonic power metal, with sweeping vocals, fast instrumental work and well mixed in orchestral parts. Every song on this album is pretty good, the weakest link would have to be Virgin Skies which is kind of a boring instrumental. But it's redeeming factor is that it leads into Land of Immortals, which I deem to be one of the best metal songs of all time. It's a classic and really set some metal standards if you ask me. echoes of tragedy is a little cheesy, but it leads into Lord of the Thunder which is another really good song. The title track of this song The Legendary Tale is an interesting song. It's a lot more progressive than the rest of the album and switches from slow and melodic to fast and upbeat making for an interesting and varied song, also it was Rhapsody's first song to go over 7 minutes.
All in all this is a really solid album and possibly even better than some of Rhapsody's later releases and I think that it definitely deserves a place among the famous metal albums of the 1990s.
At the time that I purchased this album, I was looking for some good power metal, and being a fan of symphonic power metal, I decided to purchase the debut album of Rhapsody, now Rhapsody of fire. The album is the first in a two-part concept album, the storyline of which is basically explained by the cover art which depicts what appears to be Conan the Barbarian riding a unicorn about to go into battle with a dragon.
Rhapsody plays pretty standard power metal with orchestral arrangements in the background led by the operatic vocals of Fabio Lione and the guitars of Luca Turilli. Tracks like "Warrior of Ice," "Rage of the Winter," and "Lord of the Thunder," essentially lay the blueprints for later symphonic power metal acts to follow.
The guitars of Luca Turilli are simply phenomenal, and every one of his guitar solo's are perfect. From around 4:14 to 5:28 on "Warrior of Ice," is absolutely beautiful. In roughly a minute or so, Turilli plays a masterful duet with the keyboards and orchestral arrangements. "Rage of the Winter," follows and boasts just as good guitarwork as the previous track.
The orchestral arrangements are worthy of mention as well. It's as if Lione and Turilli brought back to life the great composers whom we couldn't have modern music without. Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven all contribute posthumously to Legendary Tales. I can't really describe how well this works without again mentioning "Warrior of Ice." That one minute or so is semply phenomenal but there are other moments too.
"Flames of Revenge," starting at around 2:45 or so has an orchestral arrangement that for a moment makes one forget they're listening to a metal album and throws them back in time to the period of classical music. The last track on the album, "Lord of the Thuner," is essentially a short opera piece backed up by Turilli's guitars and Daniele Carbonera's drumming which is also worthy of praise, but unfortunately for him the emphasis is on Turilli, Fabione, and the orchestra.
With all this good, I have problems giving this album a 72%, but here's why I did. For starters, the tracks "Forest of Unicorns," "Echoes of Tragedy," and "Virgin Skies," are barely listenable. For example on "Forest of Unicorns," the band tries to use a folky, medieval bard sound, backed up by female vocals and somesort of flute sounding instrument, that is boring, and to a certain degree annoying. "Virgin Skies," is an instrumental track that's essentially a slower version of "Forest of Unicorn's" that is also hard to listen to.
"Echoes of Tragedy," is a soft, keyboard based song that appears to be the obligatory ballad that every power metal album seems to have at least one of. While it's not bad, it's not good and is only a three out of five in my book. But these three songs aren't the only reason I gave "Legendary Tales" the rating that I did.
The album simply lacks that "oomph" factor to make it a good, or even great debut. On an individual basis, the songs are great, even epic at some times, but as a whole the album is lacking in something. The bad is simply not enough to outweigh the good, despite the skill of the band members. Despite the setback it's still enjoyable to listen to, particulary to fans of symphonic metal and orchestra type stuff.
The Legendary Tales CD was given to me as a present from a good friend of mine who has been listening to metal for quite some years. When he handled it to me he told me to listen to it very carefully and try to give it some time. The album’s cover prepared me for something truly epic in all its sense. I can only but admit that this is an album of quality and inspiration. It consists of epic, lyrical metal, richened with themes based on Renaissance, baroque, classic and European folk music as well. The members of the band are very skillful musicians indeed. The parts were composed by themselves and performed by using instruments like violin, cello, flute etc. in addition the production is almost perfect.
Legendary Tales is filled with a unique epic atmosphere, where dragons, unicorns and heroes come to life through some amazing compositions. Ira Tenax is a small interlude with choir vocals, vocals that basically are present throughout the whole album. It sets perfectly the path for the epic Warriors of Ice. Fast, powerful guitars and pounding drums with a beautiful classical background make you want to sing along with their superb vocalist, Fabio Leone. He is incredibly good with his strong, still so melodic voice.
My personal favorite though is Rage of the Winter. The wind begins to howl before Rhapsody enter the scenery wielding their battle instruments, war drums and killing guitars. They may not be particularly heavy but they give much energy and volume. The song itself has many beautiful breaks and his six minutes pass with a great satisfaction. It’s a blaster!
More epic-ness follows with Flames of Revenge and Land of Immortals. They are fast, at some parts too fast, songs with drums forged in steel and explosive riffs. The lyrics are brilliant as the story of the hero unfolds bringing him closer to the path of the final victory against his kingdom’s enemies. Yes, I forgot to mention that Legendary Tales is basically a concept album about a warrior who sets off on a journey to save his lands from the forces of evil. Typical but very well played.
So, one may wonder, if the album contains these epic, majestic compositions, why giving it this rating? Because the rest of them are dull and not so inspired. Forest of Unicorns is utterly bullshit and Echoes of Tragedy gets on my nerves. And the self-titled one is far too long in duration and doesn’t really serve its purpose of giving a finale suitable for the album. It’s more tiresome than thrilling.
It turned out that my friend war right in the end. I tried to give it time and that’s because I am really into all this symphonic stuff. I realize that for the fans of this music this album may be a masterpiece. It’s not bad at all, but unfortunately it has some horrible moments that could have been avoided. If you like this stuff, then obtain this album by all means. If not, do what I did: give it time and time will tell.
In the late 1990s there was a huge upsurge in activity in the melodic metal genre. Bands that held on through the musical wasteland that was the 90s such as Blind Guardian, Helloween, and Gamma Ray were suddenly joined by a whole slew of new acts, all of them taking the direction that the former bands had pioneered down new directions. Among the collection of new acts included a group of Italian metal musicians with classical training and rather intricate musical concept named Rhapsody. Lead by the soaring Opera Seria style vocals of Fabio Lione, the blazing speed and flurrying arpeggio runs of Luca Turilli, and the atmospheric intrigue of Alex Staropoli, they succeeded in a singular release in redefining the once thought dead genre of Power Metal.
As with all pioneering acts, it is necessary to look at the various influences that are present so that one can understand the nature of what is a very unique hybrid of several styles. Luca Turilli’s soloing carries some Malmsteen influences, but his leads are constructed in a more symmetrical manner, often listening like a thematic idea from a Bach Sinfonia rather than Malmsteen’s showy Tocatta approach. Both guitarists are heavily influenced by Paganini’s 24 Caprices for solo violin, but it is interesting to note how different two composers who draw from the same influence can become, and it is also telling of how varied the style of the original Italian maestro of the violin was. Fabio Lione’s voice is heavily influenced by the Opera Seria style of the early to mid Italian Baroque era, featuring a wide vibrato on longer notes and a high range that is meant to articulate both a sense of passion and melancholy longing. Staropoli’s background also has a fair amount of classical training, and his approach to harpsichord playing is heavily reminiscent of Handel and Telemann, while his piano work has more of a Beethoven feel to it.
When one combines the obviously large credentials of these musicians in regards to earlier music, one is naturally curious where the metal side of it comes into play. Most of the riffs and song structures are heavily similar to the Neo-classical approach of Kai Hansen’s contributions to early Helloween material, particularly “Walls of Jericho” and the first two Keeper albums. Much like the two latter releases, Rhapsody has consistently started their various opuses with a brief instrumental prelude, but with the addition of a chorus in most cases. One mistake that is often made however is comparing the sound of Helloween with that of Rhapsody, which is absurd when one considers the large collection of classical instruments in the latter and the lack of a second guitarist. Rhapsody is a metal band, but it is not solely driven by the guitars alone, but instead has an equal guitar and keyboard presence, in addition to a slew of other melodic instruments.
Naturally there are often flaws with the first attempt at a new sound, it was true with Black Sabbath’s debut, and it is equally true here. Although the songs found on “Legendary Tales” are quite strong, the overall mixing job is a bit processed, and the whole album sounds more electronic than Neo-classical. It mostly shows itself on the earlier songs such as “Warrior of Ice”, “Rage of the Winger” and “Flames of Revenge”. The drums are a bit too high in the mix, the guitars are at war with some of the keyboard parts, and the guitars themselves have a somewhat processed tone to it. By contrast, “Lord of the Thunder” and “Land of Immortals” have a heavier and more metallic atmosphere, while “Legendary Tales” and “Echoes of Tragedy” succeed in capturing the Neo-Classical/Film Score spirit that Luca Turilli has often stated was the distinctive trait of Rhapsody’s music.
The construction of the songs themselves is heavily reliant on a simple structure and an emphasis on melody rather than rhythmic tricks and odd chord relations, which is a common device of Progressive Metal acts. “Flames of Revenge” and “Rage of the Winter” have a large keyboard presence, yet make plenty of room for thematic guitar material and, in the case of the latter, a rather lengthy guitar solo. “Lord of the Thunder” is the most riff-happy of the bunch, not to mention the most musically intricate in the bass and drums department, yet it ropes in the listener with a powerful chorus that is quite easy to hum along to. “Land of Immortals” is the most lead guitar driven of the bunch, although the studio version on this album suffers a tiny bit in the destruction department, something that would be remedied later on.
Some of the songs on here stray a bit away from the metal format and reach back to a different approach from the lengthy past of music. “Forest of Unicorns” is right out of the Renaissance period, listening like a late 16th century lute song with a small chamber orchestra, obviously borrowing a little bit of influence from Blind Guardian’s “A Past and Future Secret” as well. “Echoes of Tragedy” is something that could have been found on the Conan the Barbarian soundtrack, featuring a ballad like piano verse and a triumphant military chorus. It’s a bit similar to Manowar’s “The Crown and the Ring”, but less redundant and time compressed. The title track is our epic closer for this lengthy album, and splits the metal and classical influences uniquely. Between Fabio’s lyrical storytelling, Staropoli’s harpsichord work, and the guitar and drum driven chorus a genuine classic emerges worthy of appearing on a Fantasy movie’s soundtrack.
Although the formula that appears first on here would be perfected on the following release “Symphony of Enchanted Lands”, this is highly recommended to fans of Classical Music and Epic Power Metal. It’s definitely cut from a different tree than the more traditional speed metal found in Gamma Ray and company, but it sacrifices nothing in the speed and intricacy department. I strongly recommend that anyone who liked the material found on their Greatest Hits compilation to pick this up as well.
Legendary Tales was the beginning and defining of Rhapsody, what set their standards, ways and musical dogma. And yes, Legendary Tales has all the elements we associate with Rhapsody. Even the short track with lyrics in Latin/Italian whatever it is. And the Rhapsodic skeleton is in open air on this one. We can see the pattern of composition more distinctly than on any of their other releases. Every third song starts real fast, the others slowly with a piano or a flute. We get a verse, chorus, verse, chorus, an interlude, occasionally a bass solo, new verse played slower though, long tone from the keyboards then some tinkling of scales and the closing chorus. Apart from a few exceptions it ends with a vowel that the vocalist turns into an AAAAAAAAAA, pitching higher and higher until he runs out of air.
The vocalist hides his Italian accent rather well as long as he's not singing an emotional part. Then it shines through immediately, no exceptions. We can take the chorus discussion further. It has always-another tone from the rest of the song - even from the bridge. Some of them are more stifled, most of them are faster but all of them are more powerful, more bombastic. That even applies to Forest of Unicorns, which is a calm song with a clean sound consisting of flutes, strokes over the guitar strings, every third second and ok vocals. Then the OMGWTF chorus comes along with vocals, both male and female that clash together, done in a wannabe clown style and then been pitched up synthetically. The almost whistling flute doesn't help.
Songs that start slowly tend to get hammering parts, in most cases the chorus. An annoying example of this is the final song, the title song. It starts lazily, once again with a flute-based sound, a verse passes. Then the tempo increases and BAM BAM the drummer hits some drums and then he let the tempo slow down again and the chorus is sung in a march song tempo. As common as the choral, emphatic choruses are, as rare are guitar solos, leads and riffs. We get a few in Legendary Tales and that's about it.
Sour grapes, but don't cry. We have got excesses of "symphonic breakdowns" in which the string instruments surfaces for a few seconds before the fast drums and keyboards get back in charge. It gets a little nasty after a couple of times, it's nicer when they do as in the end of Lord of the Thunder. A light string solo plays solo for a while, until they add a small drumbeat. The beat changes. As do the strings, and the song progresses. It's not just a softer transition, it's also a way to let the instruments and sounds develop and mellow instead of being randomly thrown in because the band so badly wants to jump on the symphonic trend.
However, the most prominent instrument of them all is the keyboard. They are not an atmospheric element as much as a tool to draw the melody. It seldomly leaves the foreground and even more seldomly leaves the sound picture completely. Mostly the keyboards give a light, shining effect which is nice, but in portions. We get portions that would suffice for an album in every single song. Too much of the same thing is never good and you can say we get that on Rage of the Winter... It's opening "winter effects", picturing a wind blowing over the snow is neither authentic nor new. Even so it’s a good song, with its nice keyboard intermezzos. The more majestic, bombastically sweeping, strumming up-tempo keys put me off though.
I'm ending this review with yet another reflection about the choruses. Warrior of Ice must be the song with the most typical Rhapsody chorus ever. The song slow down after the verse and we get a real powerful MIGHTY WARRIOR up in our faces before melody reclaims its place, depressing a few keys. But this is their debut and as such it's okay. It's a shame they've become so locked up on it afterwards, and that they take themselves so incredibly seriously. Anyway, Legendary Tales is a solid effort.
Rhapsody, as you all know, is probably the best-known cheesy Power Metal band in the world. Blind Guardian may be more well-known, but they don't count as they've only released one truly cheesy albums. These guys, on the other hand, are completely shameless.
Fortunately, they're also very talented. Rhapsody's music has become the informal benchmark for cheesy Power Metal--in other words, most other bands and albums in the subgenre are compare to Rhapsody's works.
This debut album, Legendary Tales, is not quite as good as some of their other stuff, but it's not at all bad, either. The excellent synth work and the seamless transitions between headbanging metal and chamber-room orchestrations have become trademark Rhapsody characteristics, and it makes for a very intense and listenable experience. The major problem here is that Rhapsody desperately needs to turn the volume up on their guitars. Even when the guitars are going full steam ahead in some sort of fast-as-fuck solo, they're hard to pick out from under the "background" synth chords and crashes from the drums. There are also a number of extended keyboard/synth solos, but Rhapsody is able to work the drums and chords around the solos so that they completely don't stick out like a sore thumb. This blending is what saves Rhapsody from falling into the trap that Angra did. The one problem I have is the presence of atmospheric synth numbers, like Virgin Skies, which, while a nice-sounding ditty, does not really need to be on the album.
Highlights--well, there are several good ones on here. Rage of Winter is a bit much at times (how much to we have to hear that stupid wind sound effect?), but the opening passage with the synthchestra (synthetic orchestra) background is great, and the entrance of the guitars is really cool, although as I noted above it should be a lot louder than it is. Flames of Revenge starts out with some really cool opening riffs from the guitars which are quickly joined by a very enthusiastic drum line. Lord of Thunder is a fast-paced headbanger, although the drummer's meatbeats are very disconcerting and weaken the song noticeably.
All in all, it's pretty good. Rhapsody fans will enjoy it. The curious should get Symphony of Enchanted Lands instead.
I won't comment the album that much, you can read other peoples reviews. I want people to understand what Rhapsody is all about, and the debut album is where we got to know a new kind of music.
To listen Rhapsody, you kind of need to forget everything you heard. Yes, you can say Helloween influenced them, but not that much. In fact, the only keepers song that reminds me of Rhapsody is "KOT7K" for obvious reasons.
But the riffs are very original and powerful. They have this epic, folkish, symphonic feel that no band have (Listen to LAND OF IMMORTALS, FLAMES OF REVENGE)
About Rhapsody's metalnes: many who criticice Rhapsody would say "The Keyboards dominates more than the guitar". I don't mind at all (besides its not always so much keyboards but orchestration). So when I say Forget everything you have heard I mean, don't expect an straight metal music. People keep saying there is nothing original, everything has been done before, etc. But when there is something really original they say "It is not heavy enough, too much keyboards, etc." I DON'T CARE IF IT IS HEAVY, SOFT, HARD or anything, I just care that it is EXCELLENT MUSIC. The metal Rhapsody uses (clear distortion in guitar, fast double bass drums, galloping bass) is just a means to achieve the incredible sound they have, which takes me to my next point.
What REALY REALLY REALLY makes Rhapsody stand over any band issssssss (drum roll) the story behind the albums... NONONO just kidding, please keep reading... no. What really makes Rhapsody stand over any band is the orchestration behind all the songs. When you hear an album with real orchestration (real recorded violins, violas, etc., trumpets, flutes etc.) you should read WHO ARRANGED THESE INSTRUMENTS. In metal bands, I would say that 80% of the cases, the orchestral instruments are arranged by some orchestra conductor payed as another guest in the album. Take for example Nightwish's Century Child or Stratovarius's Elements, albums which feature real orchestras arranged by some conductor. The results are always the same: they add a nice background, but you can feel the metal going one way and the orchestra going another, they don´t mix so nice, kind of what happened with Metallica in the S&M album. Rhapsody's orchestral instruments are arranged by no other than Alex Staropoli. So he and Luca really decide the real purpose of these arrangements, so they blend wonderfully, and they add the keyboard and the guitar into the orchestra (Listen to instrumental parts of WARRIOR OF ICE, RAGE OF THE WINTER, LORD OF THE THUNDER)
Please keep in mind all these stuff when hearing Rhapsody. I think (and maybe I'm all wrong but...) that Luca and Alex realized that most people didn't care that much for the orchestration, and after spending a lot of money for SOEL, the next albums had much less orchestration. So please listen to the orchestration, It is just AMAZING. No other band has the sound Rhapsody has. If you are a long time Helloween fan and you think Rhapsody is a new band ripping off you poor loved band, listen carefully, there is much more to listen than a couple of riffs and high range vocals a la Kiske, besides I don't hear all this humoristic style Helloween has trademarked in the keepers albums. (I don't know what you think, but I hear much more influence from Malmsteen, and Manowar than Helloween).
FORGET EVERYTHING YOU HEARD UP TO DATE, DON'T EXPECT STRAIGHT METAL, AND PREPARE TO LISTEN THE MOST INCREDIBLE MUSIC...!!!
I think you all know this by now, but I'll give a fair warning to all who intend to give Rhapsody a listen. This is the band that defines everything that fits within the term cheese. These guys play the most huge, epic, glorious and grandiose power metal ever, with fantasy lyrics about enchanted swords and fire-breathing dragons. On top of that we have the nearly incessant use of double bass drumming, constant orchestrations and symphonic effects all over that often tends to overshadow the guitars, and all those cute accessories that would make any power metal geek feel his jeans tightening.
That said, if you can stand or even find enjoyment in the extremely high cheeseball factor that this album features, this has some real high quality songwriting. The vocal lines are grand and memorable, and some of these choruses (Warrior of Ice, Land of Immortals to name the most outstanding ones) are really what puts the 'power' in power metal.
This isn't the most talented band musically, though. The drumming is very synthetic, and for the most part it sounds like it might as well have been a drum machine. It is tolerable though, since it manages to assist the music pretty good, and the extremely high use of double bass isn't too high in the mix.
The basswork as well is perfectly placed in the mix, and provides a very strong backbone to the album while mostly just playing along to either the guitars, drums or at times even the symphonics on the album.
Luca Turilli on guitars manages to come up with some really memorable standard power metal lead sections and a couple of really well done solos as well. But the riffs on this album are just pretty downright boring. Fast, single-note based and monotonous. He just can't write fucking riffs.
But this doesn't drag the album down as much as one might expect, as the riffwork is not put to focus all that much. What Rhapsody emphasizes in their music is the really nice and memorable (but annoyingly pronounced) vocal work of Fabio Lione, as well as the general 'epicness' that is abundant on this release. The orchestrations are usually highlighted, and they are very well done, so if you dig that kind of stuff then I see no reason why you shouldn't find any enjoyment in this album.
Personally, I can definitely enjoy this to some extent, but there is some boring, dreary crap to be found here as well. Forest of Unicorns is one of the most awkward ballads I've ever heard. The female backing vocals on the chorus are downright awful, and the song never gets anywhere at all. Virgin Skies is a stupid and unnecessary acoustic interlude, that has no point whatsoever. And finally Echoes of Tragedy, another ballad, which is not quite as hideously boring as Forest of Unicorns, but hideously boring nonetheless.
Then there is one more ballad, the title track, which is a bit more interesting than the other two mostly thanks to a rather well done mellow instrumental section.
The other stuff on here, however, is pretty great. Warrior of Ice, Flames of Revenge, Land of Immortals and Lord of the Thunder are the definite highlights of the album. Fast-paced, epic, with tons of time changes and more incredible instrumental sections. Man, call me a geek, but the orchestrations along with the leads and solos from both guitars and keyboards can really provide some really fucking nice music, and Rhapsody knows just how to do it.
The best instrumental section on the album though is probably that of Rage of the Winter. It's a pretty mediocre song for the most part, but that one section has some really great stuff.
Oh yes, Rhapsody is cheeseball metal the way it should be done. If you'll enjoy this album completely comes down to whether you like the idea of ridiculously epic, orchestral power metal or not. For me, it took some effort to get into, but once I managed to look beside the cheese factor I found that there's some great music on here. And hey, the cheese is really what makes this band so much fun.