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Give them back the guitars. - 55%

PhantomLord86, April 3rd, 2007

This one is easiest the worst effort from these italians. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy symphonic power metal a lot, even if it has a great amount of orchestration. But there is a limit to everything, and this record is no exception.

First and foremost, the songwriting quality has decreased a lot. The choruses are not as memorable as before, this album does not have a 'Emerald Sword', a 'Triumph For My Magic Steel' or a 'When Demons Awake'. The songs are not forgettable, but aren't memorable either. The best chorus might be the one in 'The Last Angel's Call', probably. The verses are not that good either - usually the guitar is doing some uninteresting ultra-fast palm-muted single-string riffing, while the drums treat the listener with a highly incessant double-bass rhythm, but the drums have always been the same with Rhapsody, so that is not something new. The bass is almost non-existent, and even with some good headphones it is hard to listen to it.

Second, the mixing must have been done in a 5 minutes per song basis, because it is really unbalanced. The most noticeable thing is that the guitar volume knob has been turned down to 4, logically making it hard to listen to and forcing the listener to concentrate to follow the guitar throughout a whole song. Also, the orchestration overpowers the rest of the band so much that there is a lack of balance between the metal instruments and the classical instruments. Another problem is the abuse of choirs, which are waaaaaay too loud in the mix, overpowering everything in the background when they are used, except the orchestration, obviously. The whole album is full of examples of this flaws, but for an easy one check 2:15 in 'Guardiani del Destino'.

I never had a problem with Rhapsody's big amount of narration, but this record has gone too far. There is way too much narration in here, and the music suffers from it. The narrator's voice is very suited to the task and adds a very epic feel, but he appears just too much.

But not everything is bad, as you must have guessed it due to the score of 55. The solos are very very well done, but it is a pity that they are not so frequent. The guitar solo in 'Erian's Mystical Rhymes' is very good, as well as the keyboard/guitar exchange solo deep into 'Sacred Power of Raging Winds'.
The singer is also very spot-on and never tries to hit a note far out of his reach, and doesn't abuse of overdone tremolos and other things that are annoying but used a lot in the genre. He makes tremolos, but not in a annoying way.

The album has 2 ballads, 'The Magic of the Wizard's Dreams' and 'Guardiani del Destino'. Both suffer from the mix flaws mentioned before, but nonetheless are interesting. Guardiani is a bit overlong, but that is not a major concern.

The 2 instrumentals, however, differ from one another. 'Elgard's Green Valleys' is boring as hell, but luckily it is very short. 'Dragonland's River' is much better, though not really good.

The best song here is easily 'Shadows of Death', firstly because it has a very cool riff, the guitars are actually listenable (during the first 5 minutes though), and it has a 'LOOK! I CAN PLAY FAST!!1' mind-blowing keyboard/guitar exchange solo that lasts about one and a half minutes, and a small solo in the final 20 seconds. It also has a slow section towards the end... basically all the things Rhapsody should be about, and the things the fans expect from them. The second best might be the opener, 'Unholy Warcry', which is very epic of course.

I can't say that this album is a good way for a newcomer to get into this band, better go check earlier works. The Rhapsody fan might be satisfied, but some (like me) might not.