Rhapsody: Dawn of Victory

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Rhapsody: Dawn of Victory
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Rhapsody: Dawn of Victory
Orchestral Power Metal, Symphonic Power Metal
Limb Music GmbH SPV Records
October 30th, 2000
Release length: 49:31
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Dawn of Victory is the third full-length album from Rhapsody, as well as the third chapter to their Emerald Sword saga. It is also the one album that really saw the most negative feedback from the fans and critics, but nothing too detrimental. Still under contract with Limb Music, 2000 saw the follow-up to 1998’s successful Symphony of Enchanted Lands, but did this recording deliver more quality compared to it than many would let on?

With Rhapsody becoming a stronger group, so has their production quality. The audio to Dawn of Victory is rather strong for more of a digital approach at the turn of the century. The guitars have a distinctively sharper edge to them while still crisp, though can sometimes sound a little tone down during slower songs, losing a little of that extra bite. The bass does come through well, but nothing too extravagant beyond being support to the rhythm and accompanying riffs. The keyboards, however, sound impressive, as do the additional instruments that all come through loudly, and usually a little more than the guitars. The same goes for the vocals that are restricted from getting too high in pitch, which perfectly suits the somewhat grounded tone of the music. The drumming also stands out well with a roaring click to the bass kicks that come through well during the faster moments, and cymbals a bit further back in the mix, but still enough to pack a nice bite to them as far as filling the gaps goes. The snares pick up what slack exists there with a tighter sound that can be swept up with the music, but still apparent enough to be picked up on at all times.

With a decent production quality that really brings a crisp sound to the mix, though losing a bit of the grand atmosphere and even being a bit too clean, it’s easy to say that this recording has been sterilized, but nowhere near the point where the material will not hook you. Dawn of Victory features plenty of great songs from start to finish, though the slower ones will easily cause you to lose your interest rather quickly. The Folk inspired “The Village of Dwarves” really doesn’t have a lot going for it outside of the keyboard presence, which unfortunately isn’t the main focus of the track. The chorus is enjoyable thanks to the layered vocals and richer music, but the softer Folk instruments that make up the main verses and bridges can be rather boring and even feel pointless considering how quickly the song jumps between them and typical electrical instrument driven Power Metal. It’s obvious this should have been an interlude like the introductory track “Lux Triumphans” and not a nearly four minute long offering, as it simply doesn’t establish the atmosphere as well, but it does provide the mood at that point in the tale, which is clearly a jovial one.

But, there are plenty of rich, faster paced songs well worth taking note of. “Dragor, Shadowlord of the Black Mountains” does sport a bit of a cleaner, sleaker sound, but overall is a great song. The double bass kicks really stand out against the vibrant keyboards that really set a medieval tone to the track. The layered vocals sound fantastic, especially in the upbeat, glorious chorus. “Holy Thunderforce” is another song that sticks out nicely, as well as was the lead single for this recording. There are some additional Operatic elements to it that other songs just don’t have, but overall it ends up another solid Symphonic Power Metal track with an upbeat pace that sounds beautiful with a nice edge in the guitars. There are plenty of rich moments where everything works together well, such as in the chorus with powerful and layered vocals, quicker chords and drums, and much more vibrant keyboards that really bring in a truly epic sensation to the mix. There’s also the title track, “Dawn of Victory,” which isn’t the most spectacular offering on this effort, but it does still provide a good deal of catchy riffs and a powerful performance all around. The keyboards can add a little more technicality to it thanks to tighter and more chaotic notes, but it’s the chorus that really grabs ahold of the listener like many others on this effort.

Dawn of Victory isn’t really that bad an album, but you can easily see where a lot of fans are coming from as far as their gripes are concerned. While this recording does have a slightly sterile sound to some of the material, it’s the songs that have a faster, often layered approach to them that stick out the most, and thankfully there are a decent number of them. Many of these really become memorable songs despite the lesser bite they carry, and there’s plenty of potential singles to be found throughout the release to make the listener come back for repeat spins later down the line.

01. Lux Triumphans – 2:00
02. Dawn of Victory – 4:47
03. Triumph for My Magic Steel – 5:47
04. The Village of Dwarves – 3:52
05. Dagor, Shadowlord of the Black Mountain – 4:48
06. The Bloody Rage of the Titans – 6:24
07. Holy Thunderforce – 4:22
08. Trolls in the Dark – 2:32
09. The Last Winged Unicorn – 5:44
10. The Mighty Ride of the Firelord – 9:16
Overall Score: 8/10


Physical review copy of this release provided by personal funds.