|Orchestral Power Metal, Symphonic Power Metal
Nuclear Blast Records
April 30th, 2010
Release length: 1:00:54
One thing is for certain, the audio quality to The Frozen Tears of Angels has definitely benefitted from it, or at least the change of labels. The guitars are properly represented here with a nice sharper sound at a level that really captures the energy the band brings with them. The bass is somewhat deeper, making an impact that adds some extra tone to the mid-range chords that easily will hook the listener. The keyboards are nowhere near as dominating as they have been on the past two releases, being nicely mixed at just a little higher level than the rest to show their importance to the Symphonic Power Metal appoach despite how little they end up being used. The drums also have a great click to the bass kicks that really comes through well and natural, as do the snares and their tighter output. The cymbals are pushed a bit in the background, but not enough to make the crisp crashes any less significant. The vocals show a great deal of range as well, matching the tone of the music perfectly, and even have a good deal of range including rhaspy, enthusiastic sections such as during “Reign of Terror,” though the choir vocals come off as though they are washed out, but intentionally and not from a production or compression issue. It isn’t too bad, but they do become somewhat distracting. The narrations are also rather deep, as well as seem altered to give a less-than-human touch to them that sounds mediocre.
Of course, this release does have the typical elements of any Rhapsody / Rhapsody of Fire album, such as the traditional Folk inspired song. “Danza di Fuoco e Ghiaccio” has a bit of narration prior to it, but once that passes the upbeat lutes and acoustic guitar can strike a joyous chord in the listener’s heart. The chorus does become a little richer with extra drumming and some electric guitars thrown on through some nice transitions. “Lost in Cold Dreams” is another slower track, but more of a ballad. The emotional piece has a strong vocal performance to back up the haunting, yet rather sleek music, and the passionate guitar solo greatly pushes the atmosphere of the song to the forefront in a manner you would expect from a gritty eighties Rock act trying to show their softer side.
But what really stands out here is the darker atmospheres, and the tracks that really take advantage of it. Unfortunately there aren’t many of these. “Reign of Terror” is the perfect example of this approach though. The song has a typical faster Power Metal approach with clean singing, but there are many passages, especially towards the end, where the music becomes tighter and richer, finding the rhaspier vocals at work for much of those sections to weave a truly memorable and sinister experience. “Sea of Fate” isn’t quite as intimidating in any sense, but it does carry a brooding and darker tone with it that greatly stands out through the main verses. The chorus is a little more light hearted and clearly meant to deliver a passionate performance that any listener can get behind, which it pulls off superbly thanks to the subtle Symphonic elements in the background that give it just the right amount of beauty.
Meanwhile, there are songs like “On the Way to Ainor” that harkens back to the early Rhapsody days. The additional Operatic elements are subtle, including a beautiful female singing piece just past the four minute mark that is layered over a guitar solo and backing organ notes from the keyboard, giving it a mood similar to that of The Phantom of the Opera while respecting the greatly restrained Symphonic style outlined right at the very start. It’s also impossible to ignore this album’s longer composition “The Frozen Tears of Angels,” though in many ways you might try. There is narration that comes off as dialogue from one of the characters in the tale, filling up a little more than a minute and a half of the introduction. The small gap when finished really makes it seem as if it were meant to be an interlude, but wound up tacked on at the last minute. Unfortunately, it’s not all that engaging, and neither is the rest of the material that follows. There’s a bit of the epic Heavy Metal influence in the mix, but many passages end up sounding thin and, when compared to other tracks, far from beautiful, sleek, or enthusiastic. But, it definitely doesn’t come off as filler, or an all around bad song, still having enough quality material, as well as simpler riffs and keyboards that give off a tamer, softer sound.
Much like Triumph or Agony, there are a few variations to the album available. There is a limited edition deluxe digipack version that features two bonus tracks, and the North American jewelcase version also has them. “Labyrinth of Madness” has some chaotic guitar work that harkens back to the maddening Classical symphonies like “Flight of the Bumblebee.” It’s easy to see why it was cut, as it’s largely just an extended guitar solo that really serves no purpose to the context of the concept. The final song is an Orchestral version of “Sea of Fate.” This track is actually cut down in time by fifty-three seconds, as well as moves at a generally slower pace that gives off a colder atmosphere, but isn’t quite as dark or brooding as the original. It’s an interesting alternate take on the song, and as a bonus track it’s a nice addition.
One listen to The Frozen Tears of Angels, and you can immediately tell that this was the album Rhapsody of Fire has wanted to write for quite some time. You can just feel the energy in the faster tracks, and the general joy and pride in the slower offerings. It’s sad that the title track here just comes off a weaker than it really should be. If any song deserved a strong Symphonic presence, it was this one. But, in the end, the only other fault is the altered narration of Christopher Lee, and in many ways it’s easy to bypass given how limited it is on this recording. Rhapsody of Fire are not trying to be epic here, which allows the Classical ideas to merge seamlessly with the modern Power Metal foundation without taking a backseat to grandiose epic passages, as well as digital recording quality. This is definitely one of the band’s finest moments, and easily an album that any fan should own, or at least check out as soon as possible to see what lies in store for him or her on any future releases.
01. Dark Frozen World – 2:13
02. Sea of Fate – 4:47
03. Crystal Moonlight – 4:25
04. Reign of Terror – 6:52
05. Danza di Fuoco e Ghiaccio
06. Raging Starfire – 4:56
07. Lost in Cold Dreams – 5:12
08. On the Way to Ainor – 6:58
09. The Frozen Tears of Angels – 11:15
Bonus Tracks Pressing:
|Initial Pressing Score: 9/10
Digipack/Bonus Tracks Version: 9/10
Physical review copy of this release provided by personal funds.