Rhapsody: Symphony of Enchanted Lands

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Rhapsody: Symphony of Enchanted Lands
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Rhapsody: Symphony of Enchanted Lands
Orchestral Power Metal, Symphonic Power Metal
Limb Music GmbH SPV Records
October 5th, 1998
Release length: 55:41
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Roughly one year after their rather impressive debut album Legendary Tales, Rhapsody return with their follow-up offering, Symphony of Enchanted Lands, the second chapter of the Emerald Sword saga. This is easily one of the most recognized offerings of the group’s career, and for plenty of good reasons. While their debut offered up a forest of unicorns (literally), this one offers a more dynamic and “manly” approach to the fantastical tales the group has begun creating by introducing war and dragons. But, does the lore attached to the world span out well through this second full-length offering?

One of the most important elements about this album is the audio quality. While their previous effort was a little more open with music that came off as somewhat restrained, this one found a much richer production that allowed the impact of the music to have a much stronger bite. While everything is more vibrant, the keyboards basically remained the same level, though come through a lot sleeker, whereas the drums sound far more crisp and podded up well. The cymbals are just strong enough to be picked up on compared to the slighty open snares and the click of the bass kicks, both louder than the first part of the kit that clearly has become more of a background filler than anything. The vocals are also clearly audible, though not quite as high a pitch. Unlike the cymbals, they don’t seem to be fighting over the other instruments to be heard, though the guitar chords are at a higher volume that they do mask imperfections without becoming a problem. They also sound a lot heavier, as well as find the bass guitar with a deeper sound that is at a level you can easily pick up on and, had they been more than support in many cases, would really add a whole new layer to the production.

That being said, Symphony of Enchanted Lands still sounds really good and allows for many songs to make a fantastic impact on the listener, though the interlude elements don’t feel as believable at times. “Heroes of the Lost Valley” has a nice natural sound with more Folk style material and instruments at work, creating a rather beautiful setting that eventually is meant to be grim and cold, utilizing whispers to represent a cold frost descending on the serene backdrop of war where horses neigh and narration comes in. Unfortunately it seems more cheesy than anything too effective. Some of the effects utilized in “Beyond the Gates of Infinity” also don’t work out too well, but are a little more believable despite coming off stereotypical when it slows to a creepy keyboard performance with grunting and growling in the background that matches the rhythm that still exists. Of course, the introduction, “Epicus Furor,” does a better job at establishing an environment through a Classical symphony driven foundation that ushers in a nice score without too over-the-top in music or the choir vocals before ushering in “Emerald Sword.”

This is easily one of the most attention grabbing offerings of the album, utilizing additional instruments like a violin quite well, and in moderation. The keyboards really give it a regal feeling, but the speed of the guitars and the bass kicks just bite right in with a great intensity that sticks through each verse and bridge, though the chorus finds a strong vocal backing with slower chords to incorporate more majesty to instantly grab the listener the same way the well executed guitar solo does. This isn’t how all the tracks are, though “Wisdom of the Kings” does manage to keep much of this. A decent amount of majesty does still lurk around the more epic Classical compositions such as “Eternal Glory.”. This utilizes plenty of faster chords and beautiful melodic hooks, but not afraid to throw an orchestral piece in to convey the atmosphere mid-song with nice transitions. There’s also plenty of variety available throughout that keeps the nearly seven and a half minutes of its existence engaging to the listener in the same manner “Symphony of Enchanted Lands,” as well as the burdening “Beyond the Gates of Infinity” has. “The Dark Tower of Abyss” also does a good job at mixing together the catchy pounding Power Metal of “Emerald Sword” and “Wisdom of the Kings”, but truly feels like a classical epic with beautiful compositions, plenty of darker moments, and some Progressive style keyboards, all making it feel like a genuinely operatic experience, but in a Musical productiobn format due to the violate of the no dialogue rule commonly associated to operas.

Symphony of Enchanted Lands has plenty of good things going for it, but also some negative elements. The production is great though the cymbals are largely drowned out and become subtle filler and the bass could have had a better role outside of meerly support, there’s a great deal of additional orchestral inspired elements, and the keyboards become far more valuable to the atmosphere. However, some of the tracks here end up a little on the cheesy side, some largely classical passages aren’t always the best, the environments established in interludes sometimes don’t work out to convey the setting in which the lyrics or narrative are taking place, and the number of truly memorable tracks are slightly limited despite the impact every song of this recording makes. At the end of the day, this one is still a surprisingly tight offering that shows Rhapsody maturing well in a short amount of time. Fans will definitely embrace this recording and enjoy it as a stepping stone towards the group’s evolution. Symphony of Enchanted Lands is a pivotol album none the less, and earns the right to be a key piece to their career.

01. Epicus Furor – 1:15
02. Emerald Sword – 4:21
03. Wisdom of the Kings – 4:29
04. Heroes of the Lost Valley – 2:04
05. Eternal Glory – 7:29
06. Beyond the Gates of Infinity – 7:23
07. Wings of Destiny – 4:28
08. The Dark Tower of Abyss – 6:47
09. Riding the Winds of Eternity – 4:13
10. Symphony of Enchanted Lands – 13:17
Overall Score: 8/10


Physical review copy of this release provided by personal funds.