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Hospitalized by pomp - 50%

gasmask_colostomy, July 5th, 2016

Even without looking, we know what we're going to get. There should be at least one track that includes a Latin title or Latin chanting or some other shit with Latin, a guy doing narration so overblown that even Brian Blessed would probably check with the scriptwriter before he went through with it, and then everything neoclassical, classical, folk, and power metal being thrown at a wide target to see what sticks. And we do get that, just like with every other Rhapsody album. And as with every other Rhapsody album, there are some songs that really move and get you going and others that are so silly you're going to do well not to have a chuckle. I mean, surely someone has thought of a Rhapsody drinking game, where you sip every time the words "sword", "axe" or "steel" are mentioned, swig for each "victory", "triumph" or "glory", and finish your drink for a mention of a magical creature. Even going by the songtitles alone, you'd probably end up in hospital.

So, yes, Rhapsody are pretty silly, but as long as you can accept that, you might find some enjoyable music in among the twee 'Lord of the Rings' fantasy, especially if you don't mind trading in your metal for mad orchestral skills every couple of minutes. Whatever may be said about the tastes of these Italians, it must be said that they can play, so if fast is good enough for you there's every chance you'll be fully satisfied with about half the songs, particularly if those drinking game choruses prove palatable too. Of course Luca Turilli is the main draw in the chops contest, since he's the one shredding like Yngwie Malmsteen on crack, although Alex Staropoli does well to keep up with on keyboards at times. There are also a few other musicians like a violinist and flautist, who seem to follow the band like the page with the coconut shell in 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail'. I also notice the rather questionable inclusion of bagpipes on 'The Village of Dwarves', which is surely surplus to requirements, yet surprisingly quite enjoyable.

As far as songs go, your average metal listener is going to have a bi-polar tussle between the fast songs and the "folkier" ones, basically changing mood with every track, seeing as the album is sequenced in a rather up and down manner. I suppose that most of us will enjoy the fast power metal numbers most, especially the likes of 'Holy Thunderforce' and 'Dawn of Victory', which storm through verses and triumphant choruses at incredible speeds, then generally follow that up by Turilli slapping his flying V-shaped member onto the table and wanking so hard you start to worry about the skin on his fingers. The slower numbers aren't exactly more subtle either, using such an excess of keyboards, choirs, and "atmosphere" that even the quiet parts are only quiet by comparison, though not quiet in relation to, say, a thunderstorm. Put simply, there's a lot to attend to throughout the album; however, the songs are so hyperactive and attempt to be so dramatic that the effect wanes long before the halfway point.

The other problem with the album (and this will afflict metalheads and normal people alike) is that, despite the excess of different instruments and ideas included, almost all of the album is carried out in the same mood. If you hadn't guessed it from the Rhapsody drinking game, that mood is triumphant, which can grow very wearing if your sense of excitement starts to dissipate after the first couple of songs. The reflective moments and moments of suspense are few and far between, usually making room for more exuberant violin or flute after a couple of seconds, while the parts that really go for broke in terms of bombast (the latter half of the epic closer, for example) are so overdone and hammy that I can't believe they made it to tape. Also to the detriment of the album, though thankfully not appearing often, is the narration, which almost made me stop the first song within 10 seconds. Honestly, it's so dreadful and overdone that it will make infants cry - not because they are scared, but because even they can sense how terrible it is.

Considering that 'Dawn of Victory' is a 50 minute album, give or take, giving it a rating is very easy. Basically, for every minute before you grow sick of the style the album gets 2%. For me, I start to lost interest towards the end of 'Dargor, Shadowlord of the Black Mountain' (some would get bored halfway through reading the title), though 'Holy Thunderforce' does make me prick my ears up again. I get the feeling that 'Dawn of Victory' suffers more in this regard than other Rhapsody albums, since it is packed with more stuff and is generally sillier, so it's a blessing that it isn't as long as some of the others. This album is ideal for someone like my sister, who has no concept of cheese and a forgiving attention span - for most of us, it's too silly to actually enjoy as we really should.

Best of the Emerald Sword Albums - 85%

VaderCrush, April 28th, 2010

Rhapsody of Fire (formerly just Rhapsody) is a band that has had a steady growth pattern for the most part over the course of their existence; each successive release has drifted away from their speed/power metal routes at a steady amount on towards a more symphonic approach (not to say Legendary Tales wasn’t symphonic, they have always had a flare for their little orchestra segments. Just at a lesser extent during their earlier days). I find that Dawn of Victory is perhaps the most balanced and refined of their releases up until their current latest, Triumph or Agony. A very good balance between symphonic and metal is struck in the majority of the songs and unlike most Rhapsody albums, there are not as many slow spots here and there.

The majority of this release is straightforward power metal. Songs like “Holy Thunderforce” (perhaps the most easily recognizable tune on the album), “Dargor- Shadowlord of the Black Mountain,” and the titular “Dawn of Victory” dominate this album. All of these songs contain what all good power metal tunes ought to: a booming, boisterous feel both aggressive and uplifting, clean and memorable guitar riffs, and a vocalist who can sound convincing while spewing out the most absurdly nerdy shit they possibly can. “Dargor…” in particular accomplishes this, from the very beginning dropping you into a mid-paced chugging riff with Lione managing to crow out lyrics about a demon knight in the service of a dark king set out to conquer the land of Alagord… And not once do you get the feeling that you’re listening to some ren-fair escapee’s Lord of the Ring fanfiction either!

That isn’t to say that Rhapsody slouches in other categories either. The strength of this and the successive three albums containing the portion of the Emerald Sword saga telling of Akron’s conquest of Alagord is that song variety makes up for the lessening of powerful guitar-driven tracks. This is exemplified in the slow paced “Bloody Rage of the Titans,” which combines Turilli’s guitar expertise with semi-ballad style vocals. “The Village of Dwarves,” too, is a changeup to the typical power metal formula with keyboards and, believe it or not, folky recorders. And no, they aren’t playing Hot Cross Buns! However, undoubtedly the best song on the album is the concluding “Mighty Ride of the Firelord,” which also manages to be one of Rhapsody’s best songs in general. The sweeping, powerful choir segments combined with a varying song tempo that changes with the entertaining narrative contained with the lyrics would be replicated to great effect on most every subsequent album’s conclusions, and for that I enjoy it

So yes, it does sound like I all-around enjoy this release… But why the lowered score? Simply because throughout all of these wonderful songs, technical problems remain with Rhapsody that would later be ironed out once they recognized the problem. An outstanding one would be that it’s still painfully obvious that English is not their first language. They can generally pass by without too much of a problem but there are clearly lines that make little sense, in which they seem to tack random things on while leaving us clueless as to what they are. A good example would be the spoken word segment during “Mighty Ride of the Firelord”: “BLACK ANGEL, I CALL YOU!/ KING CHAOS IS RAGING IN THE TORMENT OF MY HEART.” This is a story-driven concept album, but I have absolutely no idea who the Black Angel or King Chaos is supposed to be despite both being repeatedly mentioned in the album. What is a “Steelgod?” What is the “Holy Thunderforce?” I have no idea, but they all sound progressively more ridiculous as the music goes on.

Another problem is the aforementioned spoken word segments. While they have been generally lessened in this album compared to the one preceding it as well as the one following it, they are still present, and they are still revoltingly bad. It wasn’t until they got Christopher Lee on board with them that these spoken segments did not make me contort in agony every time they arose. I just can’t imagine that they did not realize our wonderful narrator sounded like a high school kid who managed to get an F in drama.

But beyond those two problems, Dawn of Victory manages to be the best of the Emerald Sword-era songs. While Triumph or Agony toppled it eventually, this album still holds a special place in my heart, as does Rhapsody and their little story (even if it COULD be summed up as “Dungeons and Dragons rendered in crayon”). A perfect balance of metal and symphony leads, with occasionally absurd lyrics and horrible spoken word segments leads me to give this album an 85%.

To Rhapsody: A Letter of Rejection - 52%

Empyreal, October 30th, 2008

Rhapsody, where did we ever go wrong? We used to be such good friends, back when I was bright-eyed and young, with the sun in my face and the wind in my hair. Your symphonics were exciting, your choruses triumphant and catchy, your melodies light hearted. Alongside such luminaries as Stratovarius, Sonata Arctica and Edguy, you allowed my Metal taste to be carved in stone and for me to become the jaded, pompous critic you see before you.

We lost touch for a while, after you moved away and changed your name, and I could only offer a few derisive snorts at your antics. Rhapsody of Fire? How about that stunt you pulled with Christopher Lee back in '05? Surely you can't blame me for pretending I never knew you!

I knew this moment would come, though; the fatal moment when I would eventually turn my critical lasers back on you, Rhapsody. I was just too curious. I had dabbled in your material a few times before, but it never managed to hold my interest for very long. Surely, though, I couldn't have been outright wrong about you in my metallic inception? I had to know, just had to, and all that stood in my way was a simple click of a button on my mouse. So, Dawn of Victory it was, then, being the album that held my old favorite "Holy Thunderforce." Being that I'm a generous man, we'll start off with that song. What happened here? You have more aggression and fury here than I've ever heard out of you, with that ultra-melodic shredding intro, the crackling, lightning-fast verses and the soaring chorus. This is the sound you should have been shooting for all along.

But other than that, I'm afraid I over-estimated your other efforts, to put it nicely. I mean, none of the stuff here is overly terrible or anything. You have some very nice guitar-work here and there, but I'd personally give you about a D on the songwriting overall. Your choirs get dull after a few songs, and I'm slightly reminded of the way my mother sang lullabies to me when I couldn't sleep as a young boy. You've got class, but therein lies the problem. You've got too much style and too little substance. Beyond Luca Turilli's colorful, flashy licks and whiddly solos and those lovable cardboard-flavored riffs, there isn't much to sink my teeth into. It feels like I'm biting into a big puff of whipped cream: it looks nice, but leaves much to be desired when you munch down. Fabio Leone's vocals are well performed, but boring. He doesn't put any power into it. He's singing, as I said before, lullaby melodies. With lyrics about dwarves and dragons and swords. Your overly saccharine, sugary-sweet mood here slightly brings down my enjoyment, as well.

Another thing, too: have you all looked outside the stained-glass windows of your castle lately? You haven't exactly done the Power Metal genre a world of good. It's been bogged down in petty, ignorant criticisms of "flowery, homosexually tinted bullshit with no riffs," and I know your motif has always been to not care about what those fools think of you, but just look at it. You're feeding their stereotypes with both hands! You're really the epitome of this whole "flower metal" epidemic that swept our shores a few years back and crumbled the Power Metal front, and it's quite disheartening to watch you prance about on your white stallion with your sword in the air and your hair shimmering in the sun whilst quality bands like Virgin Steele, Angel Dust and Wolf wallow in obscurity in the eyes of critics. Rhapsody, I'm not sure we can continue corresponding at all. Not after this.

Don't take this rejection to heart, though. You're not really a bad girl or anything. It's just that I cannot overlook these discrepancies in your personality, and I don't know how much more I can take. We've broken up before, but I think this time is...more serious, if you get my drift There are other fish in the sea, and I'm sure you'll find someone else who will look past these glaring flaws and love you for who you really are, or some other, equally over-used cliche. Take some of my advice, though. It might do you well in the future.


Defining power metal - 96%

The_Boss, December 6th, 2007

Rhapsody plays a fashionable unique style of power metal that has been spawned from the depths of Italy's largest dragonriders and warriors creating a worthy release into the power metal world with Dawn of Victory. Chock full of killer power metal anthems and epic songs this album is possibly their most underrated with all the attention going toward their debut, Legendary Tales, or the follow up Symphony of Enchanted Lands.

I often find many power metal fans that dislike Rhapsody's style of playing because it being not ballsy enough, or too keyboardy, or whatever other ignorant reasons. I find all of this to be completly stupid and unworthy of being power metal fans because Rhapsody has created a lot of talented material all worthy of the praise that it deserves. I can understand when people dislike the Italian style of power metal in favor of USPM or such but this is essential European power metal.

Dawn of Victory is probably my favorite album by this band but really all of their stuff can be considered my favorite. Everything from the mysterious and epic as hell introduction, Lux Triumphans, to the fast and guitar driven Dargor Shadowlord of the Black Mountain, to the catchy-anthemic-godly Holy Thunderforce. All songs on here have their moments and none are fillers, only some songs are weaker than others but for the most part this is an essential album. Rhapsody's musicians are extremly talented, featuring my favorite guitar wizard Luca Turilli shredding his way to legendary status on several songs most notably the title song. I swear I am in awe every time I hear one of his solos, all classically influenced and full of power metal goodness. The rest of the gang play their part well with certain highlights being Fabio Leone on vocal duties and drumming by the mysterious "Thunderforce". The drumming is intense and shows a killer array of double bass attacks throughout the ablum, with much diversity adapting to slower sections.

Fabio has a very beautiful voice, with an operatic and classically trained voice soaring over the music. He has a thick accent which sometimes overrules the ability to follow along in songs, but after listening to this countless times I've learned the words easily. This is one of those albums that is so hard not to sing along with or hard not to get into while listening as if you're on the battlefield during Holy Thunderforce or riding into glory in the title track. All of this atmosphere catches and plays perfectly with a glorious and epic album; everything power metal should be. Some say the keyboards are overwhelming and at times I can agree but I think it plays a crucial part in creating the album as a whole. I mean, some songs just wouldn't be the same without it all.

Individual highlighting is fairly pointless, but I have spouted out several names earlier so I find it important to nominate the best of the best. All the songs are good in their own right, but they make the album a complete one when listening all the way through. Transitioning from the majestic Village of Dwarves with it's sing along godliness and catchy violin sections to the fast headbanging onslaught of Dargor makes for quality atmosphere, even with the epic long closing track The Mighty Ride of the Firelord showing Rhapsody can do a great long song with all its transitioning. Also worthy of nomination should be the best song on here, badassery personified; Holy Thunderforce. This song kicks ass on so many levels it has a great solo, mixed with double bass attack and Fabio's almost pissed off vocals and the catchiest chorus this side of Iron Man make for the perfect definitive power metal song.

With Dawn of Victory, I think Rhapsody has made a point in their career that they are a quality band that makes quality material. Three stellar albums and this one is truly underrated in their catalogue that I definitly recommend to all fans of power metal, classical music, or epic music. With no filler, very little weak points and tons of highlights Dawn of Victory is quite possibly one of my favorite power metal albums and should be in every power metal fans collection and a must for Rhapsody fans.

Somewhat over-developed. - 82%

hells_unicorn, February 18th, 2007

It is generally agreed that Rhapsody created something highly original with their debut album “Legendary Tales” back in 1997, marrying the traditional vocal approach of Italian Opera and Baroque instrumentations with speed metal. Whether or not this was a good thing varied among listeners as some thought that the extra instruments tended to drown out the more metal aspects such as the riffs. Likewise some are turned off by Fabio Lione’s rather wide vibrato style, which is not commonly observed in the metal genre nor regularly heard by today’s younger generation.

“Dawn of Victory” differs from the two previous releases primarily in that it pays more attention to riffs than it does to the extra instrumentation and epic musical formulas. The title track, “Holy Thunderforce” and “The last winged unicorn” put a good deal more emphasis on the guitar and rely on simple structures, shorter solos, and a rougher vocal style in the case of the first two. Even the longwinded epic “The Mighty Ride of the Firelord” has a great deal more guitar emphasis than the matching tasks on the last two albums, although the somewhat triumphant atmosphere does clash a bit with the dark and bloody events that the song coincides with in the story.

Obviously this album is not quite the aggressive guitar fanfare collection that the one after it was. “Triumph for my Magic Steel”, “Dargor, Shadowlord of the Black Mountain” and “The Village of Dwarves” remind heavily of the keyboard drenched approach to several Neo-classical metal tracks found on “Legendary Tales”. The narrated sections are fairly frequent on here, although not quite as prominent as they were on “Symphony of Enchanted Lands”, or as descriptive as they would be on the follow up “Power of the Dragonflame”.

Although the same general formula that has always been at work is still present here, this album suffers from a bit too much development in some areas. Although there are several great moments to “The Mighty Ride of the Firelord”, it would listen a bit easier if it was a minute or two shorter, as it tends to get repetitious. “Dargor” and “Triumph for my Magic Steel” also have a tiny bit too much going on in them, not to mention that the lighter character of the intro to the former kind of clashes with the dark character that it depicts.

All in all, this is a solid release that will surely satisfy any fan of this band or this style, although I can’t really say it’s as spectacular as other releases this band has put forth. Fans of Epic Power Metal who can only afford to get one album are encouraged to get either “Symphony of Enchanted Lands” if you like the Epic side of the coin, or “Power of the Dragonflame” if you like the more aggressive and speed driven side of Power Metal.

Not their best, but definitely not bad. - 87%

emperorjvl, May 13th, 2005

Hollywood Metal (disclaimer- this metal category has been invented by the band and is not recognized by the Metal World Council) warriors Rhapsody are back with their new symphonic power metal effort. The first thing fans will notice about this disc is the rather subdued appearance of the keyboards on the mix. This time the guitars and vocals are loudest, with fast rapid riffing and two and sometimes three tracks of guitar power being the focus of the album. This is not to say that Staropoli has gotten lazy, as his playing IS constant and amazing as always throught the album, but the guitar is always louder. This is rather constrasting with their previous opus "Symphony of Enchanted Lands". Personally, I would have liked more emphasis on the keys, especially on parts like the chorus of "Dawn of Victory", for example, where some very interesting accenting is overshadowed by the loud chorus (when he says "Gloria Perpetuaaaa!!"- listen for it), and
throughout the song "Triumph of my magic steel".

Performance is top notch as always, though I did notice that Lione is sticking more to his middle and lower range. His Italian accent is also very noticeable (deliberately, I think) on the song "Holy Thunderforce". Bass is audible but sounded better in "Symphony...".
Luca Turilli as always displays his flashy style, more so in this rather guitar driven record. Drums are listed as being played by "Thunderforce", so I don't know whether they are "real" or not, but this is unimportant, as they sound great.

On to the songwriting- though mostly typical Rhapsody, this album takes a more agressive approach, with less orchestration than before and more double bass drumming (Dawn of Victory, Holy Thunderforce, Dargor..). This makes for a more accessible and immediate album. 6 of the ten tracks are of this sort, 1 is a midpaced celtic flavored song; another a midpaced heavier number, the first track an intro, and an instrumental. A well-rounded album any Rhapsody or power metal lover should be very happy with.

Originally written by me for (as of May 13 2005 still on hiatus, which is why I'm putting this review here)

Rhapsody doesn't like salmon. - 60%

Corimngul, March 7th, 2005

As number three comes Dawn of Victory. It’s a catchy, it’s cheesy and all that epic power metal uses to be. But this album lacks determination. It isn’t as if every song on an album should sound the same but Rhapsody even fails to accomplish consistency within the songs! However, we’ll save that for later. Instead we start with the only positive side of this album: they’ve got rid of the sucking Latin intro. Don’t expect too much though, as they’ve replaced it with an equally awful English intro like bash, bash, vocals that seem spoken rather than sung doesn’t prove too good either. The guitars have been put forward but you’d expect that a ‘great’ guitarist actually could do some more stuff than an ok lead, tremolo, staccato or playing the melody as a riff after which we hear the keyboards play the absolutely same melody and so they keep switching.

The drums have turned out better than before, but instead for constant pace we get a filthy amount of double bass. An improvement, at least. And thus he pumps, melody played by keyboards or guitars – before it all stops down and we get a flute solo, as misplaced as possible, after which what sounds like a remix of the ‘Last Ninja’-soundtrack, played at ten times the original speed, arrives. For those of you who don’t know this was a boring video game with one of the best video game soundtracks ever. Slowing down again, strings, more blip-blop, guitars, more blip-blop before the usual pompous, grand chorus arrives and beats itself into our heads again. And a spoken part, some melody and then flute solo, two keys pressed down and the song ends. Fortunately they’ve cut down on the amount of spoken parts, but haven’t changed the musical patterns first surfacing on Legendary Tales.

Slowly starting with a clean sound picture – not too much of a mess. Then it’s filled up with different types of chords before the double bass gets beaten at. Fabio sings the verses ok and then follows the chorus that must have shifting tones and tempos on each and every strophe. Guitars playing the same thing as the keyboards – and the flutes, gets boring, this could’ve become much better if they’d tried a little. The chorus starts with the sweeping effect you can only get from keyboards, cymbals clashes and the vocals are drowned. The guitars are just a fake rawness that can’t even cover the operatic choirs or the futile and paltry struggle of the vocalist to resemble Hansi Kürsch’s voice for a moment. It sounds like Scotch pronounced in Italian.

And no matter how much they try with guitars, drums and sound effects to conceal the monotonous melodies that remain pretty much the same from song to song, they fail. We see right through, right behind. No use for twittering birds, ringing bells, crickets and shrieky children vocals. No use for the organ-like keyboards nor the tooting and whistling ones or the Bal-Sagoth-sounding keyboard interlude with its Bal-Sagoth-like spoken part. Below all these layers of camouflage there’s just a sing along march, not as Luca or his devoted fans call it a well-developed composition. Before they did distinct crescendos and dramatic tempo switches, now they hardly do. I’m sorry but having a melodic start with just flutes and then put drums upon it is not the same thing. And on a side note, it sounds just hilarious when he sings the following passage to a pompous, struggling-to-be-majestic and heavy in the emotional way, yet remains happy:
Mutilated or dismembered
We’ll soon rise to eat your brain

All in all this is too fucking pretentious. I can’t even imagine this band to sing a line like “We like salmon”. And that, that is a bad sign.

MEGA Kitsch - 30%

Ritual, August 30th, 2004

If someone asked me to sum up Rhapsody in one word I’d say – kitschy.

I was relentlessly exploring the works of King Diamond when my friend suddenly offered me “the red tape”. After months spent with Merciful Fate and KD Band I gladly accepted it, considering it to be a nice brief break from classics. I usually enjoy story-telling albums, and I had high expectations on symphonic-metal genre (which I didn’t know very well back then).

I was disappointed. After quite thrilling beginning there was very unpleasant surprise – the songs were so kitschy that my teeth almost cracked. Couple of cool speed metal riffs, and then chorus, which reminded me of scout’s campfire songs or even something worse. And so it goes throughout the album – so pompous that it’s pathetic. Some say that early heavy metal bands like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and Merciful Fate are “too sweet”, “sissy like” and so on. I was into those for a long time (actually I still am), but I was shocked anyway.

Surprisingly I stuck to the Emerald Sword Saga for a time. I hadn’t large choice of alternatives, so I rather tried to seek the highlights of weak bands instead of dumping them instantly. It changed as soon as I gained fast access to Internet. After experiencing large variety of bands, my opinion of Rhapsody as average band was “beheaded”.

I’d say Rhapsody is something between speed, power, and symphonic metal. And they fail in every aspect. Their lyrics are pretentious, and vocals are poor. They are nothing but dust before Therion (actually, I haven’t found yet a single symphonic band that could challenge them), and they lack the speed and agility of Iced Earth – listen to these two, and you will never come back to Rhapsody.

“Dawn of victory” is what I believe to be their best work, though it’s senseless to listen to it more than once.

They really should get rid of those speaking parts - 90%

OSheaman, August 9th, 2003

I mean, their music is great and all, but it's cheesy enough without having those fantasty narratives with that guy's truly weird speaking voice.

Anyway, this is the third release from Rhapsody, and it's their best yet overall. Symphony of Enchanted Lands had some better individual songs (read; Emerald Sword), but this is overall a more consistent album while still maintaining the sound that made Symphony a great album. The guitars are fast and often frantic, and the drumming is always lively and upbeat, sometimes bordering on downright hyper. The best part is, of course, the vocalist, who has amazing range and a cool style, not to mention some of the ridiculously catchy and cool choruses. Topping it all off is Rhapsody's signature use of an orchestra to bring the proper effect. Overall, it's standard Rhapsody.

The one complaint I have here is that the song styles are getting really familiar-sounding. I'm not one to mess with success, but the style of an initial explosion of a descending opening riff on guitars followed by the simultaneous entrance of bass and drums, followed by some sort of solo (usually violin) has been used quite a bit, and while I repect that the style has worked for Rhapsody, it's getting old, and they need to be a little more varied in their sound if they want to stay popular as a band.

Highlights. Dawn of Victory is the opening number after the really dumb-sounding spoken-word intro Lux Triumphans, and it features the aforementioned style. Holy Thunderforce is a really excellent fast-power song that was also on the prereleased single. Dargor, Shadow of the Black Mountains is very well-done, although the single's extended version is better.

Overall, this is a solid album. It will please any fan of the genre without a doubt, though outsiders may not be so warm towards the Fantasy Boys.