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Rhapsody Of Fire - "The Cold Embrace Of Fear – A Dark Romantic Symphony" (CD)

Rhapsody Of Fire - "The Cold Embrace Of Fear – A Dark Romantic Symphony" CD cover image

"The Cold Embrace Of Fear – A Dark Romantic Symphony" track listing:

1. Act I The Pass of Nair-Kaan (2:01)
2. Act II Dark Mystic Vision (1:41)
3. Act III The Ancient Fires of Har-Kuun (14:56)
4. Act IV The Betrayal (3:58)
5. Act V Neve Rosso Sangue (4:41)
6. Act VI Erian's Lost Secrets (4:28)
7. Act VII The Angels' Dark Revelation (3:59)

Reviewed by on December 22, 2010

"Rhapsody of Fire finally bites off more than they can chew when it comes to cheesy, story driven film score metal."

I was pretty excited for this EP. Rhapsody Of Fire clearly showed incredible skill at winding an epic fantasy story into symphonic metal when they released “Rain of a Thousand Flames” in 2001. The shorter medium is perfect for telling a story while keeping you gripped for the entire time, so what could go wrong?

Well the first sign is that Act I, II, IV and VII are all ambient/spoken word pieces for the story for which Christopher Lee returns as narrator. So cut the actual time here down to around 23 minutes interspersed with 12 minutes of movie score theatrics. Not so bad you say, but the main issue is that not all of that 23 minutes is very strong, and that is a near killer blow to “The Cold Embrace of Fear.”

In contrast to their previous LP “The Frozen Tears of Angels” this material falls on the symphonic side of the fence as opposed to the greener pastures of foot to the floor power metal. Once we finally hit Act III, we're presented with some good traditional Rhapsody Of Fire pomp and metal and there are plenty of niceties to be found in the 14 minute film score rivaling opus. Things looking up but we're about to hit rocky trails.

Act V is a grievously forgettable folk tune for which Rhapsody could do with a slap across the face and a wake up call by many a decent folk metal band. I feel less like I'm standing on tip of an icy precipice battling evil as I stare into the abyss, and more like I'm sitting in an Italian cafe being serenaded by an overly dramatic exchange student.

One more missed lace this album trips up on while sprinting in the symphonic Olympics is just how important pacing on shorter releases is. Cinematic is the aim here and any good epic film attempts to juxtapose ambient lulls, gripping battles and emotional climaxes. It's a shot in the gut to “The Cold Embrace of Fear” that Act VI is not half as good as the finisher it should be and like previous efforts such as “The Wizard's Last Rhymes” have been. It's not bad, just a paced epic piece where the only real stand out is Fabio's impressive Manowar-ish screams (though the thematic return to Act III is also a nice touch).

All in all, “The Cold Embrace of Fear” is a rather forgettable experience in symphonic metal in which Rhapsody of Fire finally bites off more than they can chew when it comes to cheesy, story-driven film score metal.

Highs: The actual solid music in Act III is quality Rhapsody of Fire material

Lows: Badly paced, too much filler and not enough killer

Bottom line: Rhapsody of Fire finally bites off more than they can chew when it comes to cheesy, story driven film score metal.

Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls
2.5 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)