|Orchestral Power Metal, Symphonic Power Metal
Limb Music GmbH SPV Records
February 23rd, 2004
Release length: 1:10:57
For the most part, the tracks on this compilation are unaltered from their source releases, meaning the audio qualities do vary between the albums they come from. This works out well to really show the growth of the band, as well as to showcase the “most unusual and the favourites … to date” (again, according to the sticker) as they were meant to be heard. Tales from the Emerald Sword Saga starts off with the somewhat muffled audio quality of Legendary Tales, treading all the way into the heavier, more aggressive and digital sound of Power of the Dragonflame. Of course, having the songs mastered a little bit to have them share a similar quality would have been nice, and some cases that did happen, but overall it wasn’t a necessity.
However, some tracks are different, or are alternate versions. Unfortunately this doesn’t always work out for the best. “Land of Immortals” is a remix of the original that is distinctively different from the others thanks to a cleaner quality to the guitars that largely removes the bite they had in the original. The bass is also a little louder and almost goes into a twanging approach, which just doesn’t work in the long run. It’s clear the goal was to incorporate a NWOBHM vibe to it, but in the end it only hurts the epic Symphonic sound that made this song so great in the first place. “Holy Thunderforce” was given the same treatment, except this time around it made the guitars a little sharper and louder, as well as cleaned up the drums a little bit. Surprisingly, it makes the song sound a lot better at times, especially in the chorus which is just louder and even more booming. It’s a nice remix that fans will definitely get into. “Rage of the Winter (Symphonic Version)” doesn’t really sound all that different compared to the original aside the additional keyboards filling up the background that really don’t do much to benefit the song. Finally, there’s “Riding the Winds of Eternity,” which is just a greatly shortened version to make room on this disc for more tracks and the additional music video. It’s understandable, but the full-length version would have been nice to have as well, perhaps in place of it.
That’s about it for the unique material of the compilation, and overall it isn’t bad, but nothing that will define it as a must own for those who already have the release. Unfortunately, not all the important songs are here, such as “Dargor, Shadowlord of the Black Mountain” and “When Demons Awake,” but it is commendable that this effort does include some of the different tracks like “Forest of Unicorns.” The booklet also outlines what songs are from what album, and even include the lyrics, which is rare for a single disc collection. On top of that, you get a brief summary of the band’s history at the end, which is interesting if you don’t have access to the internet and wanted to know more about the group, a viable scenario back in 2004. Really, the only issue one could have is that many of the songs here seem to be the second and third from each album, and sometimes even just the third, but thankfully more variety than some compilations that just choose chunks from two to three albums and don’t bother even putting them in random order when no concept is present to be concerned about staying in chronological order.
For its time, this was something that proved to be a good option for fans who didn’t have a CD burner on their computer to make their own compilations, though the technology was around and in ample supply. The additional video was a good choice for this as well considering sites like Youtube weren’t quite as popular and didn’t necessarily cater to that sort of thing yet. In the end, this wound up being a good collection of songs throughout the band’s career in a timeline that nicely suited the story, and essentially just summed it up instead of spanning five albums. It makes for a good jumping on point for new listeners who don’t have the full discography, or the money to acquire it anytime soon. It also stands as a solid recording to have handy for long trips. But, the call is up to you as to whether you want to add this if you have the original albums. It’s nothing you won’t soon regret buying, but for the most part you’re paying for material you already own, and a few alternate cuts that, overall, aren’t worth the full retail ticket price. It does make for a nice piece that you can bring with you and throw in knowing you’ll get one hit after another with a few not-so-good tracks that have been updated a little bit, and for the serious collector of Rhapsody fan, that’s more than enough reason to add Tales from the Emerald Sword Saga to your collection, especially if you can find it used at a decent price.
01. Warrior of Ice – 6:00
02. Rage of the Winter (Symphonic Version) – 4:48
03. Forest of Unicorns – 3:24
04. Land of Immortals (Remix) – 4:51
05. Emerald Sword – 4:21
06. Wisdom of the Kings – 4:30
07. Wings of Destiny – 4:32
08. Riding the Winds of Eternity (Edit) – 3:48
09. Dawn of Victory – 4:49
10. Holy Thunderforce (Remix) – 4:17
11. The Village of Dwarves – 3:51
12. Rain of a Thousand Flames – 3:41
13. Knightrider of Doom – 3:59
14. March of the Swordmaster – 5:02
15. Power of the Dragonflame – 4:26
16. Lamento Eroico – 4:40
DATA. Holy Thunderforce MPEG Video Clip
|Overall Score: 8.5/10
Physical review copy of this release provided by personal funds.