Triumph Or Agony

Rhapsody Of Fire

Change of moniker and change of  direction for the creator of  Film score metal. Rhapsody […]
By Chiara Pellegrini
November 25, 2006
Rhapsody Of Fire - Triumph Or Agony album cover

Change of moniker and change of  direction for the creator of  Film score metal. Rhapsody Of Fire's albums are  always hard to review, because the music seems so scripted to a movie... This time the band offer a great gift for their fans, a really original and great CD.  It's far less over the top Hollywood Metal? The songs are very diverse, ranging from slow and acoustic to fast and bombastic and (everything in between). There's even a song with the vocals in Italian.
Triumph Or Agony can be described as a typical Rhapsody album? It contains everything that makes this band so special and unique. The spectacular guitar playing of Luca, the majestic tunes of Alex and of course the beautiful vocal performance of Fabio Lione, who surpasses himself on this album. So much power, so much volume and yet so much feeling. Simply fantastic!
Although I must say that everything is worked out better than before and the soundtrack feeling is more present than ever. Christopher Lee, returns as a narrator in the Cthulhu-esque tale of Dar-Kunorwith his daughter involved as well as Susannah York.
While some people will mock this release as more "fantasy metal there is something here that makes it far better than the band's last releases. There is still an epic feel to the CD but it just never gets too much. Let's not forget the gentle, sweeping balladry of their native tongue submission, Il Canto del Vento by Fabio, either this and all the grandiose songs before it are little more than a warm-up to the album's climactic, 16-minute song suite The Mystic Prophecy of the Demon Knight. The ballads / metal ratio has increased a lot. Not as cheesy as they once were, not as pretentious with blistering solos and over the valley of dragons, eternal pride and victory of undying wisdom of long lost magic sword tales of old elvish poems, this can be associated with the old Rhapsody. Competing with the theatrics of Luca Turilli's breathing guitar playing and Alex Staropoli's fantastic fire kyeyboard are the 50 piece BRNO Academy Choir and the 60 musicians plus strong Bohuslave Martinu Philharmonic Orchestra. Toss in Christopher Lee and his daughter for spoken appearances and you can imagine what kind of larger-than-life production this is. The entire album is tackled with all the bombast one would hope for in a project with such a flair for fantasy. It's a rip of Lord of the Rings, but done in a gigantic Hollywood production style, complete with spoken narration and mindblowing epics that deserve the title. Not only due to length but in overall stylistic approach as well. Very folksy and a little on the soft side, like the underbelly of a dragon.
Rhapsody is a little toned down. Fabio is allowed to flex his songwriting skill, Il Canto Del Vento is his contribution and its an artistic piece that is a showcase for his voice. Old Age of Wonder allows him to shine again as he plays off of a female voice and lots of fairy-like pan flute in a softer setting. For guitarist Luca Turilli, this is his third major appearance this year (see his solo album and the groundbreaking Dreamquest project for more Turilli). He doesn't show any wear and tear as the riffs come fast and frequent with solos flung about with wild abandon. Just check Heart of the Darklands for a taste of his fiery edge and forceful, majestic intensity. The dialogue keeps pulling the listener out of the musical trip though. Is it too much to ask that the talky sections be given their own track numbers so those of us that want to just listen to the music can without having to endure the babbling parts everytime too? Rhapsody of Fire continue doing what they do best. Except this time its more about the lighter, fluffy bardic moments than the bloody, scream littered battles. Turilli and Staropoli are both amazing talents and together they are clearly a force to be reckoned with. Time and experience make them click even on the studio recordings that have all the extra trappings to compete with.
Triumph Or Agony is one of their better efforts and feels fresher than the past two discs. Rhapsody Of Fire has again managed to deliver a masterpiece, which will surely not disappoint the fans. The production of the album is also more complete than ever. The limited edition of 'Triumph Or Agony also contains two bonus-tracks. Buy this album, but don't judge it after just one listening turn. Take the time for it and let the songs do the work. In other words, their fans won't be disappointed, and detractors won't be able to control their spinning eyeballs. What matters most is that Rhapsody's transition to Rhapsody of Fire is a seamless one, and will likely continue to bear glorious treasure hunts for fans to pursue, for years and years to come.

9 / 10

Almost Perfect

"Triumph Or Agony" Track-listing:

Triumph Or Agony
Heart Of The Darklands
Old Age Of Wonders
The Myth Of The Holy Sword
Il Canto Del Vento
Silent Dream
Bloody Red Dungeons
Son Of Pain
The Mystic Prophecy Of The Demon Knight
Dark Reign Of Fire

Rhapsody Of Fire Lineup:

Fabio Lione - Vocals
Luca Turilli - Guitars
Alex Staropoli - Keyboards
Alex Holzwarth - Drums
Patrice Guers - Bass

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