I consider myself to be a pretty well-rounded metalhead. I don’t listen to everything, nor do I intend to, but I try most things. However, there are some genres I just never really got into, like the whole European symphonic/power metal thing. I’m not putting down the musicians by any means; some of it just sounds really hokey to me. Case in point: this Rhapsody of Fire album, Dark Wings of Steel, just released via AFM Records. I’ve never listened to these guys before, and to be honest, I don’t see myself doing so very often. Apparently they have been around for many years and for various reasons members came and went, and they had to change their name from just plain Rhapsody to their current moniker, which is actually a pretty cool one. The cover artwork is ferocious, too. Unfortunately I don’t have much more praise to offer.
There really isn’t much to sink your teeth into on this album. While some of the guitar riffs are good, all-too often they get buried under layer upon layer of synth and choirs. It took me four songs before something really caught my eye, “Tears of Pain”. This song chugs along nicely, but at 6:28 it does get a bit tiresome by the end. “Fly to Crystal Skies” is definitely one of the record’s best, musically and vocally, because singer Fabio Lione is not quite as over the top as he is on some others. In fact, his delivery on some of them is rather cringe-worthy.
Another bright spot is the fast-paced “Silver Lake of Tears” channeling a bit of DragonForce and a dash of Helloween. I also found “A Tale of Magic” and the title track “Dark Wings of Steel” to be very enjoyable. Good, driving rockers that kept the guitar way up in the mix, so they were pretty memorable from first listen. Opener “Rising From Tragic Flames” also features some blistering solos from newcomer Roby De Micheli.
Now the bad news: songs like “Sad Mystic Moon” and “My Sacrifice” sound very dated and predictable. Also, “Angel of Light” is seven minutes of pure, unadulterated hell. If I hadn’t been driving while listening to it, there’s a chance I would have jumped from the car I was doing 70 miles per hour in!
Overall this is not a bad album. It’s just not great. Out of eleven songs I really liked five and a half, but the rest of them just didn’t do it for me. Like I said earlier, I have nothing against this type of music or Rhapsody of Fire themselves. It’s just not really my thing.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Silver Lake of Tears”, “A Tale of Magic”, “Dark Wings of Steel”, “Rising From Tragic Flames”