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Rhapsody of Fire – The Eighth Mountain

Rhapsody of Fire
The Eighth Mountain
by John Paul Romero at 13 February 2019, 7:30 AM

RHAPSODY OF FIRE is one of the strongest forces in the world of power metal. Having released powerful classic anthems such as “Emerald Sword” and “Holy Thunderforce” and forging a saga known as “The Emerald Sword Saga” that stretched through six solid albums, hearing a fresh material in 2019 is a great feeling for a solid fan like me. This of course is still part of the momentum that their 2016 album “Into The Legend” which for me is the best power metal album released that year. However, for long-time fans like me, there’s one thing that has to be dealt with – and that’s the fact that this album will no longer feature the wonderful and powerfully emotional voice we loved. Of course you can’t simply rule out their new singer Giacomo Voli for he has been with the band for three years and has made a good credibility of his own, even fronting the re-recorded RHAPSODY classics in their 2017 release “Legendary Years” (although his performance received mixed reactions as well).

Talking about this new album, well, it’s Giacomo’s first official studio album with the Italian group, and it will be called “The Eighth Mountain” (probably because seven summits isn’t epic enough!). The album has a considerably good artwork, although it looks more like a mid-tier video game cover than a power metal cover. Music wise, the first thing you’ll notice here is the return of big symphonies. They haven’t done this in a long while, and it somehow reminded me of the ol’ glorious days. “Seven Heroic Deeds” is a good opener, it has a fast pace with lots of big hooks and sharp solos. Giacomo proves why he has honorably earned his spot in the band, but that’s not because he picked up where Fabio left off, but because he has his own unique style with a completely different appeal which somehow gives the band a fresher, newer sound. There are parts in the song that didn’t impress me so much though – the shrieks in the second verse. I just feel that that’s completely out of place, and unnecessary. The keyboards breaks are also too overused and repetitive. The problem with “Master of Peace” is its lack of energy and excitement. It is because at this point you can already feel that it is forcing its way to connect with the first song. Once again, I’d like to express how I am so displeased with Giacomo’s shrieks. I understand that this might be a part of the new things that he could bring to the band, but he’s got a pretty wide range and a considerably high-pitched voice which he could take more advantage on instead of doing banshee screeches. The song as a whole is of average quality though.

The sound of the songs don’t vary that much. It’s almost the same for each one – double bass kicks, lazy riffs, razor sharp solos, and high-pitched vocals. The additional layer of sound provided by the orchestration adds a bit of sugarcoat to it, but doesn’t really make it more appealing. The only distinct songs are “White Wizard” which began in a calm mood that will actually catch you expecting for a power ballad. It is played in a mid-paced tempo with lots of mood swings. The other distinct song is the one right next to it, “Warrior Heart”. Right now it’s a real power ballad with a semi-acoustic accompaniment. Here, Giacomo’s vocal performance is astounding. It has lots of sudden shifts in mood and a very emotional atmosphere. The solo in this song is my favorite despite being the slowest solo in the album. Actually, this is the only track that really remained in me even after playing the album several times and that is why this is my favorite song off the album. The single they released, “The Legend Goes On” is a great kickstart prior to the release of the album, and I don’t want to disappoint you – but unfortunately the epicness of that song is not felt in any of the other entries. But don’t get me wrong, the songs are enjoyable at most. It’s only that the single is already the best song that this album has to offer. When I first heard it, I had a very positive assumption on how the album would go. But upon hearing its entirety, I could only wish that the other songs sounded like anywhere near “The Legend Goes On”.

Production-wise, I’d say it’s also not a very good one. The orchestral arrangements are so over the top and they are way above everything in the mix, and it’s a bit suffocating. The guitar sound is so sharp that its high frequency feedbacks can literally harm you. Overall, I’d say it’s not really a powerful release. I could actually consider this one as a transition album, as they look for the right direction to go with the new sound and vibe that their new vocalist brings. I thought that what would challenge me is to embrace the new voice of the band, but it turns out that the real challenge is to find the bright spots in the album. Well, I tried several times, it’s just not there – the riffs are so generic, the solos are un-entertaining, and the feel of the songs are suffocating as if the notes are unwillingly forced to compress with one another to create decent melodies. As a long-time RHAPSODY fan myself, I never imagined that one day I will write a review of their album and give it a “mediocre” rating. Hard to swallow pill: this album sounds like a parody-tribute album dedicated to RHAPSODY OF FIRE.

Songwriting: 4
Originality: 5
Memorability: 4
Production: 3

2 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Abyss of Pain
2. Seven Heroic Deeds
3. Master of Peace
4. Rain of Fury
5. White Wizard
6. Warrior Heart
7. The Courage to Forgive
8. March Against The Tyrant
9. Clash of Times
10. The Legend Goes On
11. The Wind The Rain and The Moon
12. Tales of a Hero’s Fate
Lineup:
Giacomo Voli – Vocals
Alex Staropoli – Keyboards
Roby De Micheli – Guitars
Alessandro Sala – Bass
Manu Lotter – Drums
Record Label: AFM Records
     


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