Published on February 7th, 2019 | by Justin G.
Rhapsody of Fire: The Eighth Mountain (AFM, 2019)
Grab your swords, warriors, because Italian power metal legends Rhapsody of Fire are back with a new album. Wait, does “legends” still apply when this particular Rhapsody of Fire lineup is missing Luca Turilli and Fabio Lione? This is keyboardist Alex Staropoli’s band now, and it’s a bit harder to get excited by “Rhapsody of Keyboards.” Still, Staropoli played a huge role in crafting Rhapsody’s sound over the years, so you can’t exactly ignore this one.
The new Rhapsody of Fire album is called The Eighth Mountain, and it’s the band’s 13th full-length studio album (assuming you count Rain of a Thousand Flames and Legendary Years as proper albums). Staropoli is joined here by guitarist Roberto De Micheli, vocalist Giacomo Voli, bassist Alessandro Sala and drummer Manuel Lotter. Orden Ogan’s Seeb Levermann mixed and mastered the album.
There are approximately zero surprises here. The Rhapsody of Fire formula hasn’t changed since 1997, so no one should expect anything other than epic power metal with grand symphonic flourishes, flashy guitar solos, soaring vocals and melodramatic narration. And we already learned with Legendary Years just how solid the new lineup is. The only question is whether there’s enough spark and staying power in these songs. The answer is probably not. They’re all good songs that check all the boxes, but there aren’t any songs that really stand out or make you excited enough to start the album all over again once it’s done. The longer epics “March Against the Tyrant” and “Tales of a Hero’s Fate” come close, but even they never make the leap from good to essential Rhapsody songs.
On paper, Rhapsody of Fire did everything right, and there really aren’t any flaws in the musicianship, vocals or production. It’s just that the songs on The Eighth Mountain don’t stay with you the way great Rhapsody/Rhapsody of Fire songs should. If you’re a die-hard Rhapsody fan, you can’t really skip this one, but the smarter bet is on the upcoming Luca/Fabio Rhapsody collaboration.
Summary: It sounds good enough, but "Rhapsody of Keyboards" just doesn't deliver the memorable songs.