Rhapsody Of Fire - The Eighth Mountain

Rhapsody Of Fire The Eighth Mountain cover
Rhapsody Of Fire
The Eighth Mountain
AFM Records
Trying to figure out what’s going on and who’s who in Rhapsody’s (including all different version of the band) is quite a friggin nightmare. Sufficient is to say that original keyboardist Alex Staropoli is the longest running member that didn’t quit or start a “different” version of the band, hence he is probably the closest thing to an original member. Still, that poses a problem, since he’s lost both the Turilli and Lione on guitars and vocals, who he did start the band with and for better or worse were there in the pivotal moments of the band’s history that now seem to have reunited after a “farewell” tour, for a new version of the band, using their surnames to differentiate it, from all other Italian versions, as well as that Australian girl group that seems to share the name!
With Roby De Micheli taking over on guitars from Turilli, Alessandro Sala being the third bassist this past decade, Giacomo Voli on vocals and Manu Lotter on drums being the latest additions, the band released a best of containing re-recorded signature songs from their past and now offer a new album of what might as well be mark X or so of the band’s line up.
It’s a more “metallic” Rhapsody that seems to retain the overall sound, but doesn’t bother too much with luscious orchestrations at least “real” ones. Voli is not a bad vocalist, but he sounds more like a more capable Hansi Kursh (if he was Italian), than say Alessandro Konti, which Turilli used in his own LTRhapsody, who was closer to Lione, still his performances are not bad. A bit accented, maybe, but then again so were Lione’s. It’s the overall more spartan production with often anaemic guitars, over-pronounced drums and keyboards (of course) and somewhat overdone songwriting that stifle the album the most.
Following a typical intro in the form of “The Abyss of Pain”, “Seven Heroic Deeds” goes into the fray, sounding typically like Rhapsody when they sort of slightly lost the plot, trying to introduce some newer elements (ie harsh vocals – done rather poorly) and obviously inferior to their Paeth produced output.
“Master of Peace” is Rhapsody with insanely cliché warfare lyrics that sound more like someone mixed up a page by a Sabaton booklet, into this and had Voli sing them.
The only song that manages to sort of stand shoulder to shoulder with older Rhapsody classics is “Rain of Fury”… that gets both the tone as well as the pace right.
“White Wizard” is cliché as fuck, but at least not terrible just like “Warrior Heart” that follows it and tries to be a medieval sounding minstrel like ballad (think “Forest of Unicorns” etc.).
“The Courage to Forgive” has nice riff, but is lost in its own ambition and seems to have a lot more going on that ie “March Against the Tyrant” that follows it and seems to be a lot more “floral” about it, despite a strong opening.
“Clash of Times” tries to push things into the epic double bass that made Rhapsody famous and even references the rivers, forest and tree and bees and whatnot, just to tick that rustic box of Rhapsody lyrical clichéology. Not terrible, but the band has done this better, much better, in the past.
“The Legend Goes On” attempts to dazzle the listener with a synthesized orchestra, which sounds rather impressive, but can’t help the song, from quickly sounding predictable and stale, despite the efforts of De Micheli (who contributes a nice enough solo) or Voli who really tries to make this work, only to marginally fail, due to what he has to work with.
“The Wind, the Rain and the Moon” is meant to be a song for Voli to show off, as he’s left to solo along with some light keyboards. Despite the nice melodies, he seems to not possess as rich a timbre as Lione and he’s considerably more nasal and weaker in his vibrato. Not terrible, but rather exposed without a lot of stuff going on.
Lastly, “Tales of a Heroe’s Fate” tries to be the typical ten minute epic that sometimes the band has managed to pull off but more often did not. Predictably there’s a shitload of soloing, a lot of choral singing and a bit of overlapping but it’s not bad. The last 2-3 minutes, are not really a song, but a Christopher Lee narration that would have made more sense as an intro either at the start of this or the next album of this “Nephilim Empire Saga” that this album seems to be the origin story of.
Not the worst of all Rhapsody Of Fire and Rhapsody related albums out there, but it leaves quite a bit to be desired. This is one of the most clear cut cases where division seems to have driven a band to fragmentation and never are parts any better than the sum of what made them great in the first place. If you’re a fan, you won’t be disappointed, but rather dismayed at how politics has made your favorite band a shadow of its former self. Here’s to wishing that the band could collapse all these different versions and exist as one again. Unlikely as this may be.