Rhapsody: Legendary Tales

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Rhapsody: Legendary Tales
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Rhapsody: Legendary Tales
Orchestral Power Metal, Symphonic Power Metal
Limb Music GmbH SPV Records
October 27th, 1997
Release length: 45:15
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When it comes to grandiose fantastical tales in the Power Metal field, no other band name is considered over Rhapsody. Originally known as Thundercross, this group changed their name back in 1995, and after a new demo under this monicker, they found themselves signed to Limb Music to drop their debut entry into the Emerald Sword saga titled Legendary Tales. But, does this album deserve the praise it earned, or is this highly influential Italian concept band off to a slow start with their first chapter?

For a late nineties recording, Legendary Tales definitely packs a decent production quality to it, and the slightly rawer, open sound works in great favor to the musical intentions incorporated. The only complaint is the volume takes away from some of the kick. The guitars have a nice mid-range distortion to them that is a little sharper for leads, or cleaner for rhythm. This offers an early Heavy Metal sound to them that is subtle, but thanks to that open environment feeds into an epic atmosphere. The bass isn’t too deep, maintaining a higher pitch to them that provides enough of a grounding sensation, while still adding more than just support to the lead chords. The drumming nicely compliments the two, helping to make their slightly weaker presence a bit masked with cymbals at a decent level but overall crisp and at the forefront in a way that that click of the bass kick, thicker snares, and additional glorious keyboards won’t drown out entirely. The instruments themselves still come off a little lower in volume than you would hope, especially given the mildly higher pitched clean singing that comes in rather loud compared to the rest, obviously being a more important role to the orchestral approach. In the end, it works, but leaves a little more to be desired.

But, when the material does pick up the pace a little more, or generally just becomes richer through booming and atmosphere-driven passages, Legendary Tales sounds fantastic. There are plenty of melodic and beautiful cuts that instantly will hook the listener, such as “Rage of the Winter.” Once the whipping wind sound effect concludes, the symphonic keyboards kick in to perfectly suit the cold atmosphere established, leading into some nice Classical inspired riffs of a cleaner and sharper buzzing between the leads and rhythms. However, the main verses are a lot more crystal-like, pushing the bass performance forward greatly in a mystical sense until dropping into a faster and highly infectious chorus with an energetic vocal performance. “Forest of Unicorns” is a strong Symphonic piece with additional orchestral instruments utilized against a slower pace that picks up around the half way point to introduce a bit of a Folk push. The cooperative male and female singing pushes the majesty in a playful manner, all of which causes this just under three and a half minute song in a unique direction.

Of course “Forest of Unicorns” comes off as more of a glorified interlude. “Virgin Skies” introduces that slight Folk vibe to the music once more though acoustic instruments in a slower, yet still glorious tone. This does a nice job establishing atmosphere, as does the introductory track “Ira Tenax” that has a bit of a darker tone to the quicker keyboard notes played, and an ominous foundation with the choir vocals, and the later somewhat booming performances on the drums that ushers in “Warrior of Ice.” The song itself is a little more over the top than some of the beautiful offerings, as well as edgier with the faster, harsher guitars and notable bass presence throughout. “Flames of Revenge” also builds up into a stronger, over-the-top Orchestral performance that varies heavily with its sound, as well as the pace. One minute it can feel like a beautiful and glorious anthem, and the next you’re being greatly burdened by a sinister force beyond your control, or even a desolate sense of desparation and fear prior to an energetic guitar solo that rebuilds your physical and emotional strengths. “Land of Immortals” takes that same energy and throws you into an enthusiastic, upbeat, and highly uplifting faster track with a powerful vocal performance against beautiful and memorable hooks and drumming, all complimented well with a strong keyboard performance that enriches everything to more dynamic levels.

Legendary Tales sports a good deal of strong tracks, and plenty of atmosphere establishing interludes. The passion and beauty that Rhapsody incorporates into this Fantastical tale is quite engrossing, and the mixture of Classical elements compliments it all quite well. There isn’t really a dull track to be found here, but rather the audio could have been better. While the production nicely meets the needs for a venture like this, a louder or more vibrant sound would have greatly worked in its favor. Instead, some songs end up a little restrained outside the booming over-the-top passages. But, if you’re looking for an infectious album with solid musicianship, then Legendary Tales is definitely a first chapter that is well worth giving a chance.

01. Ira Tenax – 1:13
02. Warrior of Ice – 5:57
03. Rage of the Winter – 6:09
04. Forest of Unicorns – 3:23
05. Flames of Revenge – 5:32
06. Virgin Skies – 1:20
07. Land of Immortals – 4:50
08. Echoes of Tragedy – 3:31
09. Lord of the Thunder – 5:31
10. Legendary Tales – 7:49
Overall Score: 7.5/10


Physical review copy of this release provided by personal funds.