Wednesday, June 19, 2024
Banner Top

Label: AFM Records

Date: May 31st, 2024

I’ve found that slipping in and out of Rhapsody Of Fire’s path is just about the perfect way for me to stay fairly excited about their work. Provided you were ever at least slightly a fan of these Italians, it could work out for you too. Since last I listened to the band, they’ve published one album (three years ago) and this new one. This is a fine pace, as far as I’m concerned, to check up on them once every couple of albums.

Meanwhile, “Challenge the Wind” is the third part of “The Nephilim’s Empire Saga”. Whether a trilogy, or the band will keep to this concept, I have no clue, nor is it given in the press package. However, since I’m not a close follower, I cannot and will not judge the storyline. What I will mention is that the saga is originally written by the band themselves and not an adaptation of some epic fantasy author. It’s commendable, for sure, that they’ve developed a story to follow (at least) three albums.

But what about the musical development? Well, nothing much, honestly. The band’s statements declare the same. They have nowhere to develop from their original sound. Nor should they, since they basically invented this type of symphonic power metal. Adding an element or two, a segment here and there, that’s fine, but they aren’t moving away from where they were at “Legendary Tales”. Of course, the technological advancements have given them the opportunity to sound like a proper grand orchestra. Huge and bombastic, even in the five-piece setup. It’s not a novelty of “Challenge the Wind”, naturally. It’s been heard before. As somewhat of a peculiarity, we’re granted with a harsh, malevolent voice that adorns much of “Vanquished by Shadows”. The same can be traced in “Mastered by the Dark”, but as a background coloring in the verses, while there’s also a vile whisper that leads us into the same verses. This dark side of otherwise completely glorious and heroic album is underlined musically as well. Moments only, but they are there, where sinister atmosphere takes over. These also come out expectedly, particularly since the story, as declared by the band, follows “the development of an individual and recognizing your own self”. There are bound to be downfalls on that journey.

Elsewhere, Rhapsody Of Fire keeps seeking for that magic songwriting spell from their formative years. They fall short, but only just. The album offers a couple of solid numbers, but even those are more likely to induce nostalgia than to get carved in your brain alongside timeless classics of late 1990s and early 2000s. “Challenge the Wind” (the opening song) will never be as big as “Holy Thunderforce”. “The Bloody Pariah” is no “Dawn of Victory”. “Black Wizard” is definitely not an “Emerald Sword” counterpart. Still, these songs keep the intensity and are quite enjoyable. Even more so for less critical fans of the quintet. In other words, the formula is there, but the ingredients are not as fresh as they used to be, which ultimately gives a decent result, but far from spectacle Rhapsody without fire was capable of crafting.

Getting back to what I stated at the beginning, “Challenge the Wind” is a welcome break from all the grim and frostbitten black metal I’m being bombarded with all the time. Rhapsody Of Fire are still among the rulers of the genre. Aged, far from their glory, but still wise and revered in their domain. Though their armor is rusting, their sword long ago sheathed, their counsel remains very sought after and respected. Old kings are hard to dethrone.


Banner Content
Tags: , , ,