Rhapsody Of Fire – The Cold Embrace Of Fear – A Dark Romantic Symphony
Rhapsody Of Fire released The Cold Embrace Of Fear only a few months after The Frozen Tears Of Angels, perhaps because of the four year lapse in recording they experienced prior to the release of the latter album. Though The Cold Embrace Of Fear is “only” an EP, it is a Rhapsody Of Fire EP, which means you are going to get a very cinematic sound, plenty of spoken word tracks to advance the storyline, and at least one epic. Like Rain Of A Thousand Flames before it, it is tough to review because of all the “non-song” tracks that make it up.
Let me begin by saying that if you like cinematic Rhapsody Of Fire, this may well be your favorite album. At no point in the band’s history, past or future, have they sounded as purely cinematic as they do on this album. All of the tracks, whether spoken, instrumental, or sung, really promote the cinematic atmosphere that Rhapsody Of Fire was aiming for. There are plenty of epic choirs and orchestral segments that build to climaxes, almost like the movements of a classical symphony (which is no doubt what the band intended). Additionally, though the album is split into 7 songs, it is meant to be treated as one long song divided into seven parts.
The story being told follows that from The Frozen Tears Of Angels. Still searching for Erian’s book, the heroes are finally led to its location. After finding it, they are betrayed by a member of their group who was working for the dark lord all along (imagine that!). Luckily, the heroes are able to wrestle the book away from the traitor, though before he dies he damages the book.
There are only 3 “songs” on this album, “Erian’s Lost Secrets,” the ballad “Neve Rosso Sangue,” and the epic “The Ancient Fires Of Har-Kuun.” The remainder of the tracks are the orchestral/cinematic songs that really give this album its atmosphere. Unusually for a Rhapsody Of Fire album (at least for me), the epic is the best. Presented in the middle rather than the end of the album, and being the first full song the listener encounters, “The Ancient Fires Of Har-Kuun” seamlessly weaves heavier sections (featuring great riffing) with softer and gentler sections that highlight Fabio Lione’s great voice. The orchestral backing is well done, and the only real qualm I have with it is that, like other Rhapsody Of Fire epics, it tends to repeat itself and get a bit long at the end.
“Neve Rosso Sangue” is another Rhapsody Of Fire ballad. They include one on every album, and my trend is to rate them poorly. This one is entirely in Italian, so I don’t understand the lyrics, but I don’t dislike it in the same way I dislike other Rhapsody Of Fire ballads. Maybe it’s because it’s one of only 3 songs on the album, but it doesn’t dramatically upset the flow. It doesn’t appear suddenly, isn’t bridged between heavier tracks, and doesn’t drag on forever. I particularly like the flute parts that are playing in the background through much of the song. “Erian’s Lost Secrets” is the final song on the album, and it is a standard mid-tempo power metal song. It has a very cinematic chorus, my favorite on the album. It’s a bit slow, but on this album, Rhapsody Of Fire never really get going, so this definitely doesn’t hurt the album.
The remainder of the tracks are all orchestral songs designed to set the mood and further the story. Going through them track by track would be pointless, so instead I will summarize them more generally. There are more orchestral segments than other Rhapsody Of Fire albums, and they are longer. Turilli and Staropoli wrote this album with a singular purpose – writing a “Dark, Romantic Symphony,” which is what they have tried to achieve. Though the idea of a metal symphony is something I find a bit of a novelty, if anybody can pull it off successfully it would be Rhapsody Of Fire. The voice acting has improved since their early days, and it makes the storyline much more clear. The orchestra really sounds like it is a part of a classical ensemble, and the metal songs are neatly woven into the orchestral segments. During the voice-acted portions of the album, the musical accompaniment does a stellar job of setting the mood. These are some of the best instrumentals that the band has written, and to me they are the highlight of the album. The Cold Embrace Of Fear is a shorter listen than most Rhapsody Of Fire albums, but is is an enjoyable one, especially if you are happy with their cinematic approach to songwriting. This album does what Triumph Or Agony tried to do, without compromising the band’s metal integrity.
Graham’s Rating: 3.75 out of 5