Rhapsody Of Fire - "Live - From Chaos to Eternity" (2-CD Set)
"Live - From Chaos to Eternity" track listing:
1. Dark Mystic Vision
2. Ad Infinitum
3. From Chaos To Eternity
4. Triumph Or Agony
5. I Belong To The Stars
6. The Dark Secret
7. Unholy Warcry
8. Lost In Cold Dreams
9. Land Of Immortals
10. Aeons Of Raging Darkness
11. Dark Reign Of Fire
12. Drum Solo
1. The March Of The Swordmaster
2. Dawn Of Victory
3. Toccata On Bass
4. The Village Of Dwarves
5. The Magic Of The Wizard's Dream
6. Holy Thunderforce
7. Reign Of Terror
8. Knightrider Of Doom
9. Epicus Furor
10. Emerald Sword
11. Erian's Lost Secrets
12. The Splendour Of Angels’ Glory (A Final Revelation)
Reviewed by CROMCarl on June 26, 2013
Live albums perplex me. On one hand, the live shows – when witnessed – are the greatest way to hear and visualize the music. You have the sound, but you also see your heroes play it, unless you are in the back of a giant festival or arena at which point you can see microscopic dots play it. There is nothing that compares to witnessing a live performance. Somewhere between a performing and the release of a corresponding live album, the magic gets lost. Reviewing live albums causes more angst – like preparing a show report for a concert you never attended. Rhapsody of Fire now presents its first “non-Luca” release since the split (the one where the logo either has a “LT” in front or a “of Fire” below) and the first live release in eight years, “Live From Chaos To Eternity.” While it is an enjoyable listen, the mix is high on Staropoli, low on Fabio, the guitars seem buried somewhere beneath, and the crowd magic is a tad underwhelming.
An interim release between “From Chaos to Eternity” and the eagerly awaited new studio album (just what exactly will the band sound like without Turilli?), the band memorializes the dream set list (including “The Village of Dwarves,” “Holy Thunderforce,” “Unholy Warcry,” “Land of Immortals”) of the last world tour with new guitarist Tom Hess (Ex-HolyHell). A double CD chock full of classics, I was set to relive the magic that I witnessed for myself in Worcester, MA complete with Fabio appearing on the floor singing with the fans on wireless on more than two songs. I make no secret about the “man crush” I have for Fabio, much in the same way fans froth at the mouth for Arjen Anthony Lucassen, Devin Townsend, and Rush. That show was the first time I witnessed Fabio live, in what was the single greatest live performance from any singer I have heard in my life.
A word about live shows in general: unless you are a super elitist prog nerd, the nuances - crowd interactions, changes, forgetting lyrics, timing issues, extra drum beats, and overall “fuckups” - are part of the beauty of the live event. When Joakim Broden sang the first verse twice when Sabaton played “Midway” sure I noticed…but it was part of the charm (though I imagine Joakim wouldn’t think so). If I want to hear a perfect album version, I’d be home listening to the CD. Little, if any of that “charm” finds its way onto a live release, for the most meticulously played performances are ever released.
I don’t pretend to be a sound production genius, but live albums either sound way too glitzy, largely overproduced, way under mixed, or a combination all. Capturing a live performance is not easy, especially when it is one take (unless a song is taken from a string of performances like Iron Maiden’s “A Real Live One”/”A Real Dead One”). At some point through the process, raw energy from both the band and the crowd is compressed into a tidy package. For this reason, few live albums have long memories – Raven’s “Live at the Inferno” and Iron Maiden’s “Live After Death,” are immediate exceptions. “Live from Chaos to Eternity” is a serviceable release, and admirably presents the major achievement of a band as it entered the "Hess Era." I doubt it will still receive massive repetition a year from now.
With this live album, all the ingredients are there: Fabio, a perfect and long set list, great musicianship, but the mix seems to swing heavily towards Alex Staropoli’s overpowering keyboards, with Fabio just below the fanfare and the guitars buried somewhere underneath it all. The crowd interaction is diminished far below where it likely was in reality, at least based on the show I saw. But this is the inherit problem with most live releases. You either make it sound perfect musically, or it sounds like a bad bootleg (leaning way too heavy into the crowd side). “The Magic of the Wizard’s Dream” would be even more magical with a perfect balance of music and crowd energy. Oh I’m sure Luca worshipers will point and say “see they wanted to bury Hess.” In reality, Tom did a great job, well exceeding my expectations.
Spending time on the nuances of a live mix may seem downtrodden and negative, but this really has nothing to do with the band’s performance at all. Fabio alone makes this a worthy buy, especially capturing a live version of his blackened shrieks on “Reign of Terror.” I only wish the verbal introduction to “Emerald Sword” was left in….as sampling “EEEEEmerald Swarrrrrrrrrrd” would have been diabolically fun.
Highs: Great setlist, Fabio shines, Hess impresses
Lows: The mix is a tad unbalanced, the crowd's raw energy diminished
Bottom line: The mix meter "tilts" at Staropoli, buries Fabio, and strays from Hess. The "Hess Era" has officially begun!
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