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Trick Or Treat - "Rabbits' Hill, Pt. 2" (CD)

Trick Or Treat - "Rabbits' Hill, Pt. 2" CD cover image

"Rabbits' Hill, Pt. 2" track listing:

1. Inle' (The Black Rabbit Of Death)
2. Together Again
3. Cloudrider; Efrafa
4. Never Say Goodbye
5. The Great Escape
6. They Must Die
7. Beware The Train
8. United
9. The Showdown
10. Last Breath

Reviewed by on June 9, 2016

"The band has taken this Watership Down theme and made it the defining companion album series which will distinguish them for years to come…'Rabbit Fly Free!'"

I remember I was seven years old when the tale of Watership Down was released as a film. I had never read the book, but as a young child, I identified so much with the Rabbits of Sandleford – especially Fiver, a runt rabbit who was a seer who foresaw the destruction of the warren and convinced all to seek out a new home. General Woundwort was such a creepy villain – so sinisterly portrayed by the voice of Harry Andrews and the animations by Warner Animation Group. It is a story that doesn’t find its way onto many metal albums, but Italy’s Trick or Treat has made a two part album series centered on the Richard Adams classic. It’s no shock though, since Trick or Treat has always had very quirky lyrical themes. This entire concept and adaptation to music has been gloriously spectacular. “Rabbits’ Hill Pt. 1” is now four years old and “Rabbits’ Hill Pt. 2” is well worth the wait. By far, it stands as Trick or Treat’s finest album to date.

When “Rabbits’ Hill Pt. 1” left off, it was the apocalyptic vision that Fiver had of “The Black Rabbit of Death” – where he witnesses the destruction of the Sandleford warren. The original song in the film adaptation – “Bright Eyes” - was performed by the legendary Art Garfunkel, but Trick or Treat's version at the conclusion of Pt. 1 was just as spectacular. The story in “Rabbits’ Hill Pt. 2” picks up right off with “Inle – The Black Rabbit of Death” and Fiver convincing the rest of the warren of its impending doom at the hands of the humans and the need to find a new home.

If you are familiar with the story, the group moves to Watership Down and realize there are no female rabbits to propagate the new warren, so they make a daring rescue of does from neighboring Efrada, a police state warren ruled by the evil General Woundwort. The General – played on the album by Tim “Ripper” Owens – leads a violent attack on Watership Down, but is defeated when the rabbits unleash the watchdog of Nuthanger Farm. Though his body is never found, he exists as the bogeyman told in stories to generations of kits. But I digress…

The one thing that is very noticeable about Trick or Treat as time goes on is a much more defined Trick or Treat sound. However, this is power metal folks, so naturally every time you hear something in the vein, visions of Kai and The Dome naturally come to mind. The material here presents tasteful and grand orchestration without drowning out Guido Benedetti and Luca Venturelli’s guitars. Conti really has fun with the material and you can hear it in his voice, which is slightly less formal than the classical themes required with Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody.

On “Rabbits’ Hill Pt 2,” the band certainly used the layaway to craft the songwriting and refine the sound further to make it much catchier and more power metal than Pt. I. Songs like “Inle’ (The Black Rabbit of Death),” “Efrada,” “They Must Die,” and album favorite “United” really grab the listener with driving riffs and brilliant choruses. Just after the epic 10+ minute “The Showdown” where Woundwart is defeated, the album ends much like “Pt 1” – with a stunning and beautiful ballad (“Last Breath”).

The same production team was brought in from “Rabbits’ Hill Pt. 1” – so with Simone Mularoni’s stamp of perfection there is little to worry about on the mix and sound of “Rabbits’ Hill Pt. 2,” unless you long for the “natural tinny sound” of the 80’s. The guest stars this time around (remember it was Andre Matos, Sonia Piacentini, Fabio Dessi and the great Damna Moras on Pt. 1) are equally as brilliant. Sara Squandrani (Ancient Bards) puts forth a shit ton of soul in her duet performance on “Never Say Goodbye,” which comes across like a modern Sonata Arctica track. That leads me to the next guest – Tony Kakko (Sonata Arctica) – who lends his voice on “United,” which is by far the album's most impressive track. However, Ripper shreds in “They Must Die,” adding a real dose of evil to the album outside of the death metal vox included in “Inle’ (The Black Rabbit of Death)” as General Woundwort.

It’s so wonderful to see this band come into its own and truly be a force to reckon with rather than just a “Helloween tribute band who the guy from Rhapsody sings for.” This is, however, where Alle started. “Rabbits Hill Pt. 2” presents a much more powerful release both in terms of songwriting and orchestration. The band has taken this Watership Down theme and made it the defining companion album series which will distinguish them for years to come…”Rabbit Fly Free!”

Highs: Fantastic power driven metal with a great story and tasteful orchestration.

Lows: As with most power metal, there isn't much variation for the prog lover and nothing for the extreme fans.

Bottom line: Join Fiver, Hazel, Bigwig, Bluebell, Strawberry and Holly as they battle General Woundwort in the thrilling conclusion of "Rabbits' Hill, Pt. 2!"

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)