This band has a lot of fans, and I had no clue who they were until I was able to get this album and listen to it a few times. “Triumph or Agony” starts out with a brand of instrumentation and orchestration that would be better in a movie, while this style comes through slightly during the opening of the title track. Rhapsody of Fire skillfully add their own brand of metal to this sound, so that a brand of progressive metal is created. In a sense, the vocals sound like a blend of Blind Guardian and Helloween. The band adds so many distractors during the track “Triumph or Agony” that the vocals are wrested from cfull control of the track.
I suppose this is a smart idea, as it allows everything – orchestra, band, and vocals – to all shine equally. However, the rapid shifting through different styles of metal and music in general seems to be done a little quickly given the fact that Rhapsody of Fire’s tracks are routinely five minutes. This blend of classical and current continues during “Heart of the Darklands”. In this track, there seems to be hints of style taken from the early Bond themes. The style is something that is firmly entrenched in the current period but is moored in earlier times. The devilish guitars present during this track flitter around while the drums patter throughout the track.
The band is smart in keeping all the tracks on “Triumph or Agony” short; the compositions are all interesting but seem to gravitate around a few key themes instead of moving on. This type of repetition does tend to grate after a certain point, even if it was impressive when the band first started the track. “Old Age of Wonders” shows their fantasy ties, as the band moves towards the domain of Tolkien metal that acts like Blind Guardian really pioneered. Using classical constructs during this track, the band seems to be even more comfortable than they had been. The results are strong during this track and should show Rhapsody of Fire a place in which to move for future recordings. The band has been around for a few years, but there are a few things that Rhapsody or Fire still need to smooth out before they can take the rein of progressive and classical metal alongside current acts like Cellador and Dragonforce.
Top Tracks: Old Age of Wonders, Son of Pain
Rhapsody of Fire – Triumph or Agony / 2006 SPV / 11 Tracks / http://www.rhapsodyoffire.com / http://www.spv.de / Reviewed 16 August 2006