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A Nice Theatrical Preview. - 82%

hells_unicorn, February 22nd, 2007

Rhapsody has always utilized EPs for the sake of promoting their later studio releases, much in the way they utilized singles to promote their earlier material. They have consistently offered more perks through the EP route, consisting of either modified versions of songs that would be found on later albums, or songs unique to that particular release yet sounding appropriate to the LP that would follow it. “The Dark Secret” is probably the most blatantly promotional of their EPs, not only in the large amount of extra celebrity added into the mix, but also in the construction of the release itself.

From the start this flows like a miniature version of “Symphony of Enchanted Lands 2”, leading off with a shortened version of Christopher Lee’s opening monologue, followed by a more listener friendly version of “Unholy Warcry”, which was the most memorable track on the following LP and the most similar to the dark and aggressive sound found on their last release “Power of the Dragonflame”. The principle theme is highly memorable and a bit similar in presentation to “Rain of a Thousand Flames”, and the guitar solo is outlandishly technical yet idiomatic.

“Thunder’s Mighty Roar” is our first non-album track and relies heavily on Staropoli’s wide array of synthetic renditions of various orchestral themes, a bit more in the vain of the keyboard driven work found on “Dawn of Victory”. “Guardians of Destiny” is an English version of a more folk oriented track off the LP following after this release, not quite the dark fury that “The March of the Swordmaster” was, but definitely something fit for the sequel of “Symphony of Enchanted Lands”. “Sacred Power of Raging Winds” is another fast and furious number following a dramatic narration by Lee, featuring a brief bell theme by Staropoli that sounds similar to “Tubular Bells” from The Exorcist.

“Non ho sonno” is the only song on here that doesn’t really sound characteristic of what is heard on “Symphony of Enchanted Lands 2”. It’s heavily electronic tendencies seem to be more fitting of Luca’s solo work, and it’s overall pacing is a bit less strictly structured than the other 4 tracks found on here. The additional DVD featuring the music video is a nice bonus, and thankfully the music video for “Unholy Warcry” at least has some coherence with the lyrical content, which is more than I can say for the weird and somewhat flower power inspired music video “Power of the Dragonflame” featured.

All in all, not a bad EP, and at least a bit closer to the traditional time length of an Extended Play release. It has all the right perks for any collector who has already purchased the 5th LP, not to mention a very elucidating interview with Christopher Lee and various others involved in the project. The passing of the Emerald Sword saga is clearly not the end of the road for this band of Tolkein influenced performers, and what is to come will surely be an interesting experience.

Unveil the secret - 97%

Manu_SwordMaster, August 21st, 2004

A new Rhapsody EP, waiting for the next LP release. The song titles are as always, a little ridiculous, but this doesn't prevent the music from being incredible.
I bought the Bonus DVD version, so I will talk about that later.

The inclusion of the orchestra seems to be the best that could happen to Rhapsody, and promises great results for the album. UNHOLY WARCRY is different from the previous fast powermetal songs from the past. This one starts (after Christopher's Lee narration) with a sort of march with a strong orchestra and choir that reminds me of the Star Wars soundtrack. The song goes on with orchestra and metal blending beautifully, the solo is Luca Turilli trademark (ultra sweeping), but still has its own greatness.
THUNDER'S MIGHTY ROAR starts with a keyboard riff that reminds me of Nightwish and then what could be termed an orchestra riff, accentuated on violins I think. The song seems to be the common "man destroying nature" theme, and may not be part of the "The Dark Secret Saga". Fabio sings verses with raw voice, similar to When Demons Awake, but not as raw.
GUARDIANS OF DESTINY is the english version of a song that will be in Italian in the full-lenght. Its a calmed ballad with folky touches, the chorus is great, very progressive and uplifting, and have beautiful instrumental parts.
SACRED POWERS OF RAGIN WINDS, the title sound cheesy, and the biginning with C.Lee speaking in some strange language, doesn't get any better if you hate fantasy stuff (not to mention the dialog between Dargor and Vankard in the middle of the song). But the music is amazing: a lot of guitar and keyboards playing with the orchestra, not only in the instrumental parts but between verses, chorus sung by Fabio with the choir doing a couple of lines in the middle and at the end, beautiful stuff. The long instrumental part is something I've been longing for a long time. This is in the vein of Rage of the winter, some long guitar parts, orchestra and a monstrous recorders part. The guitar riffs are pretty fast and heavy.
NON HO SONNO is a cover of a Goblin song, a slow paced, calmed almost instrumental piece, very nice.

Some changes with respect to previous albums: Fabio sings much more dramatically, and I dare to say better and better. There are some keyboards solos that sound different to the typical Alex Staropoli solo, maybe more Jens Johansson oriented. The drums played by Alex Holzwarth for first time, is not as recognizable as in Avantasia.

BONUS DVD:
Unholy Warcry video: It definetely is way better than the crap Rhapsody released as videos before: a lot of nature, flying camera shots of the band playing, etc. A good video. It is a short version because it jumps from C.Lee's narration directly to the first verse. The long version will be in the ltd. ed. of the album.
The making of: There are some interviews with Luca and Alex, C.Lee and his managers, Joey DeMaio, etc. Its very funny to hear Luca speak: "Hi, my name is Luca Turilli, and i'm guitarist of Rhapsody". Alex looks exhausted and depressed. C.Lee says something like "This band, one of the most popular in the world" Come on... Its Rhapsody, not Britney Spears, don't be ridiculous.
Then there is a video done by some fans, with parts of songs of the Emerald Sword Saga, with images of caves, forests, the warrior of ice, Aresius, etc. Its not so bad, just nothing special.
Unholy Warcry 5.1 Surround Mix: Whatever, I don't get the difference, maybe if you have a home theater you can enjoy it, but its better than nothing.

This is a great release for fans, the music is what I expected, much better than Power of the Dragonflame, promising what could be the album of the year.

Good job. Even very good! - 82%

McClane, July 1st, 2004

The Dark Secret is a new Rhapsody's EP. Well there are no dramatical changes, music is still very melodic, speed and heavy. Of course there is a special guest - Christopher Lee. Christopher is mostly known as a Saruman from LoTR movie.

OK, as I said, album is very good. The first song "Unholy Warcry" starts by Christopher's speech, but I don't like that idea. Anyway, rest of the song is awesome.There are a lot of symphonic elements, speed guitars and of course great Fabio Lione's vocal. The next one is a "Thunder's Mighty Roar". It's my favourite song. Just listen its chorus. Absolutely POWER! Number three is "Guardians of Destiny". It starts by melodic flute part, and nice Fabio's voice. Actually whole song is a ballad, except its end (something like Carmina Burana). Fourth song is "Sacred Power of Raging Winds" and it's longest on EP. We hear here Fabio's possibilities, and even I think it's his best song. And the last song - "Non Ho Sonno" is a Goblin's cover, and it's preety good :-).

What to say? I like this album, and I think, every fan of good symphonic metal should buy it.