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Rhapsody Of Fire - "Into The Legend" (CD)

Rhapsody Of Fire - "Into The Legend" CD cover image

"Into The Legend" track listing:

1. In Principio
2. Distant Sky
3. Into The Legend
4. Winter’s Rain
5. A Voice In The Cold Wind
6. Valley Of Shadows
7. Shining Star
8. Realms Of Light
9. Rage Of Darkness
10. The Kiss Of Life
11. Volar Sin Dolor (Bonus Track) (Limited Digipak Edition)

Reviewed by on December 28, 2015

"If this album doesn’t please the Rhapsody of Fire faithful…then I may just swallow that broadsword because this one ranks right there with some of the Luca classics."

Now that Alex Staropoli is on the second album removed from the famous friendly split with Luca Turilli, it appears both sides have brought a broadsword to a knife fight. Though not perfect, Rhapsody of Fire released “Dark Wings of Steel” in 2013 to mixed reviews. While this author did and still adores the album, it had its flaws – mostly in the sound. “Into the Legend” heralds the return of the sound that made the band a legend, drawing influences from “Symphony of Enchanted Lands,” “Dawn of Victory” and “Power of the Dragonflame” combined with those of post-Luca members, especially guitarist Roberto De Micheli. If this album doesn’t please the Rhapsody of Fire faithful…then I may just swallow that broadsword, because this one ranks right there with some of the Luca classics.

What changed from “Dark Wings of Steel?” Where do I start….well, for one the drum sound – described then by the band as “natural.” Perhaps I don’t care for natural sound then, having had the perfect trigger of Euro power metal emblazoned in my mind for decades. On “Into the Legend” it returns to perfect and away from distracting, and Alex Holzwarth shines. Secondly, and most importantly, I can actually hear Roberto’s guitar, which was previously buried inside heaps of orchestration and keyboards. Once again, Rhapsody of Fire is truly guitar driven and Di Micheli shows off why he is the heir apparent to Luca. Imaginative riffs and blistering solos abound – it’s a feast for the ears. Finally, in connection with the “unearthing” of guitars, the orchestration and Staropoli’s keyboard comes a bit down at tick, making the mix absolutely perfect this time around.

Where “Into the Legend” succeeds is in the ability to brings back all that was great about Rhapsody of Fire, whether it be the riffs, the choruses, Fabio at the top of his game, or tasteful and appropriate orchestration and incredible guitar solos a la Di Micheli. With the mindset that this is Rhapsody of Fire in 2015, less the greatest composer in metal and some years older, there is zero reason why “Into the Legend” cannot provide the old time Rhapsody of Fire fans that which they desire or which they do not get from Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody. With songs like “Valley of Shadows,” the Manowar-esque “Realms of Light” and the “Holy Thunderforce” throwback “Distant Sky,” this album has it all.

In terms of song writing, “Into the Legend” is appropriately titled…as in the annals of post-Turillian Rhapsody of Fire lore – this album will be Alex Staropoli’s defining moment. It is that good. With all the forces of sound and musicianship in perfect harmony you then add an absolutely blazing Fabio Lione, who some people seem to write off for chain smoking habit and hundreds of guest appearances. Let this be known now…Fabio is metal’s best singer. There is no equal. On “Into the Legend” he slaps a little grit of vengeance onto the impeccable arsenal and everyone – women and men alike – melt on impact (check out that landmark performance on the 16:45 opus “The Kiss of Light”).

The separation between the two Rhapodys appears complete – with Luca taking his band to cinematic metal heights and Staropoli keeping true to the classic full-on fantasy metallic sound. Having both spewing forth albums at the top of their games, the fans are the greatest beneficiaries. Oh…and I swear this will be the last time I mention Luca Turilli in association with a review of a new Rhapsody of Fire album. The bands are finally truly distinctive!

Highs: A true return to form from Alex Staropili's Rhapsody of Fire, Di Micheli shines, and Fabio destroys.

Lows: This offers little new to those not into the innovators of fantasy power metal.

Bottom line: With complete vengenance...Rhapsody of Fire ROARS "Into the Legend."

Rated 5 out of 5 skulls
5 out of 5 skulls

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)