Sound — 7
Rhapsody Of Fire have been together for a while now and are certainly no newcomers to the symphonic power metal scene. In reality this is quite the opposite, as the band are now recognized as being one of the pioneers to the genre. In their two decade long history, Rhapsody Of Fire have created several albums which are now heavily replayed favorites by followers of symphonic metal, but have also had to face several low points in their career. Previously the group took on the name Rhapsody, and up until 2006 the band continued to create music and tour under this name. After more than thirteen years under the name Rhapsody, the group was forced to change their name due to "trademark issues," and have since gone on to perform as Rhapsody Of Fire. Most recently, Rhapsody Of Fire underwent some major changes in their lineup. Founding member and guitarist Luca Turilli announced he would be leaving the band, alongside bassist for ten years Patrice Guers. Earlier this year, guitarist Tom Hess similarly exited from the lineup. Now in their places are guitarist Roby De Micheli and bass guitarist Oliver Holzwarth, who are both making their studio debut with Rhapsody Of Fire on the band's tenth album "Dark Wings of Steel." In some ways this new effort shows Rhapsody Of Fire returning to their roots; "Dark Wings of Steel" marks the first album since 2002's "Power of the Dragonflame" to include only one guitarist within the band's lineup. From a musical standpoint, "Dark Wings of Steel" bears some strong, unignorable differences to Rhapsody Of Fire's earlier releases. As compared to such previous highlight albums as "Dawn of Victory," "Dark Wings of Steel" has a significant decrease in melody, narratives and cinematic elements. On songs such as "Silver Lake of Tears," in the place of these substantial sections within the iconic Rhapsody Of Fire sound we now have more significant orchestration, which is an enjoyable feature but it also fails to fill in the missing gaps within the mix. The bright vocal melodies which previously brought a familiarness to each new song and a chorus which was bound to make a permanent impression have similarly disappeared from the majority of these new songs. If there is one thing that is a well welcomed surprise on "Dark Wings of Steel" is how well Roby De Micheli does in Luca Turilli's place in the lineup. "Rising From Tragic Flames" is a strong example, and is also one of this album's few truly standout moments. This song in particular boasts some slightly melodic group vocal harmonies, which when backed by bold synthesizer playing and picking grinding guitar work leaves a song which couldn't better fit the needs of longtime Rhapsody Of Fire fans.
Lyrics — 6
Rhapsody Of Fire lead vocalist Fabio Lione gives a commendable performance on "Dark Wings of Steel." When the rest of the band is at the top of the game, on such songs as the previously mentioned "Rising From Tragic Flames" and "Angels of Light," Lione falls into a comfortable pace alongside the speeding rhythm guitar work. The near consistent lacking of prominent vocal melodies is one of this album's most sufferable downsides, as it was these same melodies which comprised a significant section of the signature Rhapsody Of Fire sound.
Overall Impression — 6
The departure of founding member Luca Turilli from Rhapsody Of Fire left an unignorable gap within the group's sound. On their tenth studio album "Dark Wings of Steel," there are times where his replacement does a formidable job in his place, and others where Turilli's presence is sorely missed. Now, when you take away substantial percentages of melody from Rhapsody Of Fire's sound, as well as their narrative and cinematic elements, it leaves that much more to be desired and in many ways falls below expectations.