Imagine dragons fighting heroes, imagine a hero's sword cleaving through demons' skulls like butter. Now imagine, also, all Hollywood epic soundtracks rolled in one, enriched with a few extra choires. The end result would not be much different from the over-the-top yet enthralling musical mix that is Rhapsody. Instantly recognisable yet somehow different each time, full of power, and the guys can play their instruments too. What more could you want?

"Power of the Dragonflame" is the third and final part of the "Emerald Sword" saga, of which "Symphony of Enchanted Lands" and "Dawn of Victory" were the two former instalments. This final part is arguably more cohesive than any of their earlier albums, it being filled with classic up-tempo Rhapsody material. Yet there is also a lot of new stuff to be discovered. "The March of the Swordmaster", for example, boasts an altogether different vocal style that, in combination with the mid-tempo rhythm, is quite reminiscent of Manowar. "When Demons Awake" even seems to have almost death-metal like guest vocals, which resurface in "Steelgods of the Last Apocalypse". Keyboard player Alex Staropoli's has laid down some his coolest, almost Jens-Johansson-(early Malmsteen)-like solo in "Agony is my Name". Most of the other tracks just offer the strong sing-along choruses we know and love, with fast-paced double bass drums and excellent musicianship throughout, with the exception of the fromagi ballad "Lamento Eroico" (I don't like ballads, and this Italian ballad is no exception I'm afraid). "Power of the Dragonflame" rounds off with the 19-minute epic "Gargoyles, Angels of Darkness". This is - thankfully - the only track with spoken sections, which I always reckoned too much over-the-top even for Rhapsody. Still, a cool track with some good acoustic guitar work by Luca Turilli.

All in all, it's difficult to conclude anything other than this albums equals or almost exceeds the earlier parts of the "Emerald Sword" saga. I don't think any serious Rhapsody afficionado should be without this.

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Written March 2002


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