Rhapsody - Symphony of Enchanted Lands II - The Dark Secret
"Film Score" Metal
12 songs (72:48)
Release year: 2004
Rhapsody, SPV
Reviewed by Jay

There are bands that never change. Be it AC/DC who have made the same albums 13 times in a row or be it Slayer who never relented, repetition is what makes certain bands their bread and butter. Rhapsody has fallen into this rut and the product cannot match their past catalog, I fear. It is plain to see now that they will be doomed to repeat themselves album after album. While their last release greatly expanded their range over previous albums, this effort, while being the most spectacular and outlandish cannot match it with songwriting prowess. It is a shame that they put all their time and effort into the ornate orchestrations without songwriting backing it up. Even the album title makes me question whether Luca and Alex have any creative initiative left.

Striking you immediatley from whence you start listening is the deep booming bass-filled voice of Christopher Lee. He narrates the story that this album follows. If you care about their actual story (which is a shameless, shameless rip off anything Tolkeinian) it takes place many years after Power of the Dragonflame ends. Lee’s voice is incredible and is light years better than the clowns that they have had doing voice acting in the past. It’s unfortunate that they have other poor voice actors performing on other parts of the album. The first track is the uncut version of "Unholy Warcry" which was also on the recent EP. This version is markedly better with the addition of an extended solo and additional parts which where cut from the edit. Which makes me question the point of the pre-album EP that Rhapsody seems to always put out. What wheel turning in Luca Turilli’s mind makes him so willing to butcher amazing songs? The worst instance of this was on the EP as a prelude to his second solo album where he aborted the epic "Kings of Nordic Twilight" for some ungodly reason. Regardless, this song still kicks major ass and is one of the highlights of the disc. "Never Forgotten Heroes" is standard fare for the band and follows the formula they have laid out for song creation to a tee. Bombastic choruses replete with full orchestration and chorus parts are there but nothing new is introduced. While the music is not bad, you get the "I’ve-heard-this-all-before" feeling and wonder if a tad of resourcefulness might have made drastic improvements.

A typical metal ballad follows in "The Magic of the Wizard's Dream." In it’s own right, the song is good but it feels like a pale version of "Lamento Eroico" with additional bombast from the orchestra. Fabio Lione does turn in some good vocal work here and on the album in general. He seems to be the only member of the band actually improving in performance style as time goes on. His voice becomes more distinct and resonant. Alex Holzwarth is pounding out the same fills and patterns he has since played since his first day in the band (and dig his new Mr. Clean look!). Alex and Luca are doing the same old thing really. Awesome solos, awesome songwriting but nothing new. You could go through this album and find places where they’ve recycled past song structure and solo styles. While they should be forced to work hard, I think it would only be fair to the fans to put everything they had into the songwriting process. There are flashes of brilliance on this album. The problem for us metal fans is that they happen to occur usually as intros and outros to songs. "Erian's Mystical Rhymes" is a perfect example. Discarding the worthless demonic orgasm/badly voice acted segment at the beginning, the intro to this song is fantastic and illustrates the compositional prowess of these two. There is no question that they could easily score a film. Once the track sets in, its their standard fare and the verses and choruses are stock Rhapsody not expanding or changing their sound in the least. Not that it’s bad, but it could be better. The magnificent bass solo on this track is due to new bassist Patrice Guers and the woodwind solos are by Manuel Staropoli. These are quite good. Several woodwind solos are found on this album and they’re all excellent. Compared to Luca and Alex’s solos however, they shine brighter since we know the way those two solo.

Two of the best tracks from the EP were "Sacred Power of Raging Winds" and "Guardians of Destiny." These are presented unchanged on this album with the slight exception that the latter has become "Guardiani" and is sung in Italian. Musically they are identical and are two of the better tracks on the album. However other new tracks like "Nightfall on the Grey Mountain," "The Last Angel's Call" and "Shadows of Death" are problematic not in their quality but in their repetitiveness. You can easily cull homologs to these tracks from older songs in the Rhapsody catalog. Please do not misinterpret this review. I liked this album. The songs are catchy power metal tunes and the classical elements are top notch. However, Rhapsody has gotten lazy. There is nothing new, nothing original, nothing fresh and nothing that really makes me excited to give the disc repeated listens. Even the song titles are still in the ___ of the ___ modality. If you want to save some money, get the EP. It has the best tracks of this album on it. C’mon guys, give us something fresh.

Killing Songs :
Unholy Warcry, Erian's Mystical Rhymes, Sacred Power of Raging Winds, Gardiani
Jay quoted 69 / 100
Jason quoted 70 / 100
Marty quoted 74 / 100
Other albums by Rhapsody that we have reviewed:
Rhapsody - Symphony Of Enchanted Lands reviewed by Erik and quoted 98 / 100
Rhapsody - Live In Canada 2005: The Dark Secret (CD/DVD) reviewed by Jeff and quoted no quote
Rhapsody - Legendary Tales reviewed by Crims and quoted 85 / 100
Rhapsody - The Dark Secret reviewed by Jay and quoted no quote
Rhapsody - Power of the Dragonflame reviewed by Mike and quoted 96 / 100
To see all 9 reviews click here
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