Rhapsody Of Fire
Dark Wings Of Steel
Originally just called Rhapsody, the band is well-known for their grandiose take on symphonic power metal that is at most times theatrical. Also, keep in mind that this is the very first Rhapsody (Of Fire) album that I’ve ever heard. I just never sought to get that involved in these guys, and was always busier with more extreme sub-genres. Definitely some orchestral muscle went into this one, even though I’ll admit that the riffs seem a bit buried in the synths. I can also barely hear the Alex Holzwarth’s drums, something that I absolute despise on any metal album. This unfortunate incident kills the intro to “Rising From Tragic Flames,” which started the album out on a bad note. Alex eventually started pounding the kit later on in the track however, which is when we got the first taste of vocals from a frontman who is more than capable in Fabio Lione. His vocal prowess makes for several great moments on the disc, even making the lighter ballads on the album come off quite well. One example of this would be the lighter, but still triumphant “My Sacrifice,” which deserves the eight minutes that it occupies on the disc.
But despite how great the vocals and keyboards are on the record, in addition to the choirs that sound majestic and useful in most areas; I feel that the metal is muffled. Even when I turn the volume up, I still cannot hear the drums on this record and Roby De Micheli’s guitar really only has its say when offered a solo. There’s just some sort of odd fuzz on the disc that prevents me from getting into it, that I wish weren’t there. But I can’t fault the band for the recording job, because they’re obviously giving it their best and I’m sure that these tracks will come off live just as well as they come off on the album – but even more so, because the crowd will get the music right in their face. The album certainly offers quite a bit of beauty regardless, in its light-hearted keyboard melodies and brilliant guitar solos, that really help to decorate tracks like “Fly To Crystal Skies.”
The band also performs a track in their native of Italian on “Custode Fi Pace,” which comes off as simply breathtaking, especially if you’re noticing the Italian opera influence that goes into the Fabio’s vocals. It’s definitely there, also being sprinkled about a few other tracks on the album. In all honesty, this album could be described as a sort of metalized Italian opera, which is what I think they’ve tried to do here. While it’s got these moments of magnificence, Dark Wings Of Steel suffers do to the relaxed and barely audible performance of Alex Holzwarth. He has his moments, just like Roby’s guitar; but I just don’t think he’s giving his all on the kit. Metal is supposed to pound, but with his lackluster performance, this album just doesn’t thump like it should. Perhaps it’s my speakers; but I’m just not feeling it at all. Don’t let this discourage you from picking up the record though, because the album still offers the quality power metal experience that you’ve always expected from these guys, with the theatric atmosphere of an Italian opera well engrained within its hour long playing time. There’s definitely magic in these eleven tracks, so you should definitely ignore my opinion completely and give it a try if you’re completely on the fence for this one. After all, my best advice as a reviewer is to “trust your ears” and what speaks to you, not to me. (Eric May)