RHAPSODY - "SYMPHONY OF ENCHANTED LANDS" (LIMB MUSIC PUBLISHING)
Some albums take ages to grow, and some albums just lodge themselves straight into a really pleasurable spot somewhere between your ears and at the same time in your gut. Some albums deftly push the right buttons.
With a perfect mixture of heroic imagery and melody, with some ingredients reminiscent of Therion, Skyclad, Helloween and even Jethro Tull thrown in, Rhapsody falls into this rare and precious category. From the intro followed by the stupefying "Emerald Sword" right up to the epic title track closer, "Symphony of Enchanted Lands" grabs hold of you and doesn't let go. And on the aural voyage you get haunting ballads with the odd mediaeval ingredient (the Jethro Tull ingredient I hinted at, a flute), great singalong classics and more straightforward metal evergreens.
I am normally one to rebel against the general euphoria enveloping any release. There hasn't been a bad review of this album anywhere in the press, and I set out to find the thing that all reviewers had missed, something horrible, something I didn't like. So often it happens that a cool band has a horrible singer. Not here. Rhapsody, I can't help it any more than those other reviewers, gets a full thumbs up. Definitely one of the finest releases of 1998.
A few weeks prior to the release of "Symphony...", a CD single by Rhapsody was released, "Emerald Sword". Apart from that track, it contains a mediaeval-atmosphere non-album track called "Where Dragons Fly" and a remake of "Land of Immortals" (off their debut, "Legendary Tales", which I'll definitely have to check out soon :-).
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Written October 1998
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