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Thundercross > Land of Immortals > Reviews > Valfars Ghost
Thundercross - Land of Immortals

I had to know... - 70%

Valfars Ghost, January 19th, 2019

Usually when I'm listening to either of Rhapsody's first two albums, I'll note the less polished production and wonder what the music would have been like had Turilli & Pals had the resources they needed to render a squeaky clean recording job with full-bodied classical accoutrements rather than the plasticky tones of Alex Staropoli's noticeably cheap synths. After all, symphonic power metal is meant to sound larger than life and, as such, is not the sort of thing you can realize on the sort of shoestring budget that works just fine within the sphere of, say, raw black metal. So that got me thinking, If the band's first two albums are unpolished to the point of the neoclassical effects sounding kind of hollow, what would the band's earlier demos, presumably made with even less at the band's disposal, sound like? Well, if you sit there and read on a little further, I'll tell you.

All the way back in 1994, Rhapsody, going by the name Thundercross, scraped what little resources they had and put them toward the earliest known recording of what they had to offer. Comparing this demo to later releases is easy because all four songs here eventually appeared on Rhapsody full-lengths giving listeners an interesting glimpse at the way the ideas in ‘Land of Immortals,’ ‘Invernal Fury’ (later retitled ‘Rage of the Winter’), ‘Warrior of Ice’ and ‘Holy Wind’ (the final version of which was titled ‘Riding the Winds of Eternity’) progressed over the course of several years. So how do these songs stack up to the full-fledged future versions of themselves? Pretty well, actually. In terms of their construction, they’re mostly the same as they were when they appeared on Legendary Tales and Symphony of Enchanted Lands. Though they’re a bit more concise, everything crucial to these songs is here, except the overblown choirs sections that open ‘Warrior of Ice’ and follow up the song’s interlude. ‘Invernal Fury’ still has that chilling keyboard opening, ‘Warrior of Ice’ still has that classical bit in the middle (though it’s delivered by Luca playing his guitar rather than an actual string quartet), and the title track still has that symphonic opening motif, though in this version, it’s placed after a soft, minute-long intro.

Of course, you can expect to find all the issues that normally abound on demos here. The production is extremely cheap, making the guitars sound muddy, even when a lead or solo takes prominence, and the drums sound tinny and distant. Christiano Adacher’s vocals are similar to those of Fabio Leone, though they’re much thinner and not quite as expressive. The keyboard sound is surprisingly strong, particularly in the keystorm found near the middle of ‘Invernal Fury’ though the epic, triumphant feeling the band aims for isn’t entirely there, partly because of the production and partly because of the rough performances.

Rhapsody's first ever release is a fascinating look at the band's earliest days. It gives fans a chance to trace the group’s development. Anyone dedicated to going back through Rhapsody's back catalogue will find a sweet reward in Land of Immortals, which shows the band exercising a familiar level of ambition and songwriting ability, even if the resources at their disposal were still years away from catching up with their vision.