Rhapsody of Fire are iconic. While they need no introduction, a slight recap might be in order. Legendary guitarist and co-founder Luca Turilli ditched the fold in 2011. Then in 2016 equally legendary front man Fabio Lione called it quits as well, leaving keyboardist Alex Staropoli the sole member of the once iconic trio that defined Italian symphonic power metal. Roberto De Micheli had already proven a fitting replacement for Turilli, but new vocalist Giacomo Voli’s advent wasn’t exactly helped by the fact that his first release with the band was a collection of dull, uninspired re-recordings of classics. But then struck their first actual full length with the new line-up. The Eighth Mountain (2019) was far from perfect, but through Staropoli’s songwriting they showed heaps of the old cheesiness remained intact, and Voli’s presence was charismatic, entertaining and epic. In all, an admirable, if slightly faltering, follow up to the iconic band’s greatest album to date. Glory For Salvation is, umm…
Ye olde Rhapsody would pass through like a whirlwind of sweeping arpeggios and forceful keyboards, and after the song ended you would wonder what the hell just happened and why your ears are filled with cheese. And they’d build towering epics, with fanfare and symphonic might to send shivers down your spine when those powerful hooks and solos were sent flying. Glory for Salvation lacks all of this, instead going the route of playing it safe. Safe and dull. Resulting in a predictable, forgettable first half of the album. I’ll Be Your Hero and Chains of Destiny - both found on the closing end of the album - might be the slight exceptions to the rule. While definitely more on the accessible side, they’re the most straightforward tracks on here in a way that works for them. The track list is weirdly off, in that it seems shuffled by default. Son of Vengeance is all build-up and little in the way of delivery (though the intro is kinda sweet). It feels more like filler than a proper album opener; lacking a triumphant chorus and that massive blast off. It sets the album off on a weird note. Abyss of Pain II - the ten minute epic - seems so much the natural closer, with the epic chorus giving an aura of finality, and the solemn outro closing it off. Then suddenly the album goes on for another half.
Then for some reason they added not just one more version of Magic Signs at the end, but two - Italian and Spanish - because, reasons? Seriously, no one is interested in that. The original English one is actually a quite nice ballad mainly showcasing Voli’s incredible talent. It’s not spectacular or groundbreaking, but it’s a nice touch to break from the rest of the album. So the problem here is the uninteresting songwriting, lacking much in the way of depth and nuance and the pacing of the album. The musicianship on the other hand keeps the trademark Rhapsody feel of old. Mainly it is Giacomo Voli, with his powerful voice that carries the tradition forward. His delivery in Abyss of Pain II and Magic Signs prove why he’s a great addition to the band. De Micheli also gets to unleash some pretty cool antics, opening up The Kingdom of Ice and his entire delivery in Maid of the Secret Sand stand out. Glory for Salvation misses the mark, plain and simple. It is not Rhapsody of Fire’s worst album (by any stretch) and while it might land up somewhere along “ok to enjoyable” (with some tracks destined to be growers!) it still lacks that serious firepower the guys will sorely need if they’re to stay afloat in a new era. And not enough dragons either!
Standout tracks: Maid of the Secret Sand, Abyss of Pain II, I’ll Be Your Hero