RHAPSODY OF FIRE – The Eighth Mountain (2019)
The first in a series of records that revolve around a concept called the ‘Nephilim’s Empire Saga’, RHAPSODY OF FIRE’s new record ‘The Eighth Mountain’, out February 22, 2019 on AFM Records, features a revitalized lineup eager to regain the iron throne.
After the appropriate grandeur of an intro that unveils a fruitful partnership with the Bulgarian National Symphony Orchestra, a string of proper songs reinforces RHAPSODY OF FIRE’s mastery of tension and release. The band’s marriage of heavy riffs and catchy choruses with classically informed chord structures, choral and orchestral embellishments, and shrewd keyboard shades and flourishes highlight the band’s next-level songcraft.
From the breakneck speed of “Master of Peace’s” badass intro riff to the minor key arpeggios of “Seven Heroic Deeds’” chorus, these initial ragers set a lofty precedent.
On his third record with the band, guitarist Roby De Micheli’s nimble guitar runs of “Rain of Fury’s” solo break and subsequent melodic wind down are particularly indicative of the high levels of proficiency each player brings to the performance.
The bittersweet melodies and moody shifts between major and minor keys of “The Courage to Forgive” exemplify the epically adventurous nature of these tunes. Last remaining original member Alex Staropoli’s expert keyboard work does a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to atmosphere, and he is more than ably backed by a band that is rounded out by seasoned bassist Alessandro Sala, and newcomer’s drummer Manu Lotte and vocalist Giacomo Voli.
Elsewhere, “White Wizard,” a mid-tempo slice of melodic fantasy metal, adds some subtle textures to its epic plea for the White Wizard to “atone for us,” “guide our souls” and “foresee our future storms.”
“The Legend Goes On” is another standout track with some particularly awesome keyboard work, that like all songs in the set benefits from the modern, ultra-clean sheen of Staropoli’s production.
The great “March Against the Tyrant” gallops into the world on the fleet-footed hooves of a classic metal riff before guitar arpeggios break through the din and lead the way into the pastoral meditation of the verse. Voli, whose voice is eerily similar to departed vocalist Fabio Lione, albeit slightly thinner and with a bit more grit, interjects this and all of the tunes on the record with a level of grandeur and urgency that should satisfy longtime fans of the band.
“Warrior Heart” the requisite renaissance folk ballad while well-executed might be the low water mark for a record that generally springs deep.
With “Tales of a Hero’s Fate”, the band have unequivocally saved the best for last. The intro, which is all electric guitars, choirs, and orchestra, morphs into the gallop of a pre-verse riff that is highlighted by orchestral hits. The verse proper features some unnecessary but fairly well-executed growling vocals, and leads the way into the kind of well flowing series of choruses and pre-choruses that are typical of the set.
Around the 4:30 mark, an epic minor key bridge adds a sense of foreboding before a major key harmonized lead guitar introduces a full-on progressive riff-fest that alternates between flashy instrumental riffs and solos and tension building vocal choruses and keyboard and orchestral flourishes.
On their 12th full-length record, ‘The Eighth Mountain’, RHAPSODY OF FIRE casts a familiar yet powerful spell that should have fans of classic metal happy.
If you’re new to the band, this album perfectly serves as introduction, and for general listeners as a reminder of just how good the Rhapsody guys are at their game.
01. Abyss Of Pain
02. Seven Heroic Deeds
03. Master Of Peace
04. Rain Of Fury
05. White Wizard
06. Warrior Heart
07. The Courage To Forgive
08. March Against The Tyrant
09. Clash Of Times
10. The Legend Goes On
11. The Wind, The Rain And The Moon
12. Tales Of A Hero’s Fate
Alex Staropoli – Vocals, Keyboards, Harpsichord, Orchestrations
Roberto De Micheli – Guitars
Alessandro Sala – Bass
Manuel Lotter – Drums
Giacomo Voli – Vocals