Rhapsody Of Fire - Dark Wings of Steel

Rhapsody Of Fire Dark Wings of Steel cover
Rhapsody Of Fire
Dark Wings of Steel
AFM Records
A new era for Rhapsody of Fire. Not like the one when they changed their name but a more essential one, a more crucial for the band’s future. “Dark Wings of Steel” is the first album without their original & main co-songwriter, lyricist & guitarist Luca Turilli. Also, their bassist Patrice Guers, who followed Luca in his new band, is out. He and Luca were replaced by the bassist Oliver Holzwarth (ex-Sieges Even, Coldseed, Pergana, ex-Paradox) & the guitarist Roberto De Micheli (Sinestesia, ex-Thundercross). Due to all those changes Fabio Leone (vocals) has taken over the lyrics and Alex Straropoli (keys) has composed all the music along with his brother Manuel and Roberto.
I have been quite critical of RoF over the past years due to their tenacity to release identical albums and not diverse their music a bit. I’ve been following the band since 1997 when “Legendary Tales” was released and I was (along with all the metal community) amazed by this gifted and promising band. They became one of the best (if not the best) Italian symphonic heavy/power metal bands and one of the finest globally. Surely, they got what they deserved in relation to their talent. Then again, I believe that they found themselves in a vicious circle repeating things over & over again without any freshness & creativity. Probably they needed a jolt to wake ‘em up or make ‘em change their minds. Who knows?! That shock came when Luca left the band and started his own Rhapsody. Also, I do not fancy seeing 2-3 bands with the same name while their members are trying to get whatever they can from it. I prefer they take their own way and not hold on to their past but that’s another story.
Anyhow, we come to today and RoF has had to decide what to do. You see, even though it’s rather weird, this album will set their basis for the future. In my opinion they swept through for one and only reason. They have composed more lyrical, down to earth, heavy, symphonic music with strong melodies, atmospheric passages and not complex or fast-lightning themes. In other words, they get right to the point and without exaggerating they have an expressive yet melodic heavy/power line of attack. The mid-tempo tracks, the more traditional metal orientations, the orchestral parts, their hooks… everything is very skillfully built. For instance, the melodious “prog rock” synth solo on “Angel of Light” is fantastic. They have used a full orchestra, a real choir and instruments in the album which give a rather grand essence to their music. They have not overdone it as in the past and the choir/orchestra is used when need be & very cleverly. I think that “Tears of Pain”, “Fly to Crystal Skies” & “My Sacrifice” are good examples of what was said before. The production has also changed this time. It’s slack, not over-polished and not very loud as previously. It kinda reminds me of the late 90s/early 00s productions of the band. It’s fine though and it was done by Alex Staropoli.
Not taking into consideration the ones who follow the band blindly and applaud no matter what, I think that RoF handled the case correctly and they didn’t cross the line. Of course, the band’s trademark music themes are present and there’s no reason to worry about. It is rejuvenating to add new features to your music and ease things down every now & then… and that’s exactly the case here. It’s been quite a while since I revel in a Rhapsody of Fire album… hence that proves that the band is still strong even after all these major vicissitudes it underwent throughout the last couple of years. Bottom line: “Dark Wings of Steel” is a gratifying & worth-listening to album at large…