Release date: June 17, 2011
This album has been 14 long years in the making, and is the closing salvo in the band’s epic tale “The Chronicles Of Algalord”, aka “The Emerald Sword”, aka “The Dark Secret Saga”. Yes, even the name of this beast is massive. This saga began in 1997, three presidents and a lost millenium ago, with their debut album Legendary Tales.
With From Chaos To Eternity, Rhapsody (now Rhapsody of Fire) has vanquished evil and triumphed in the fantastical world it created. Over the course of 10 brilliant albums, (some less brilliant than others), guitarist Luca Turilli and keyboardist Alex Staropoli have built vast aural landscapes and filled them with dynamic characters and rich sonic tapestries. When something this big and monumental comes to a close, there are usually high expectations from fans, and a let down by the artists. Not so on From Chaos To Eternity.
With this last valiant chapter in the saga, Rhapsody Of Fire have gone out in a cyclone of auditory inspiration. They’ve pulled in all the elements of metal music they are known for and an eclectic mix of other styles to build their most expansive and dynamic record yet. When the final notes ring out the listener is left to gaze out across the bucolic horizon as our hero fades away, a whimsical smile on our lips and a haunting melancholy in our hearts.
But first there is the journey and the battle…
The album rightly starts off with the ongoing narrative from Wizard King Uriel (Sir Christopher Lee) on the track “Ad Infinitum”. We’ll be sad to see Lee and his character depart, but we need only return to the past and listen again. Turilli winds us up with swirling guitar work and a crescendo of neo classical symphonic power metal epicness.
The title cut contains some of Turilli’s best guitar work to date, and in fact, the entire album is more guitar driven than we have heard since their earliest recordings. This time around the band added second guitarist Tom Hess, who is something of an axe virtuoso in his own right. He laid down many of the rhythm’s on this record along with a couple of solos. His presence will backstop the band’s legendary live performances, keeping the sound full and rich.
Every member of the band cuts loose on this record, with peak performances at every turn. Vocalist Fabio Lione stretches his already vast repretoire throwing in some harsh vocal moments (“Aeons of Raging Darkness” and “Tornado”) to go along with his sweeping chorals and power operatics. Staropoli’s performance is as much about nuances as it is building a sensory-awakening wall of sound. Meanwhile bassist Patrice Guers and drummer Alex Holzwarth keep this sonic wall of madness grounded lest it take flight and become lost.
The band even sings two tracks in Italian, “Tempesta di fuoco” and “Anima perduta” The former meaning “Firestorm”, and the latter “Lost Soul”.
Each track is filled with layers of cinematic, over-the-top auditory magnificence. Any one, or all of them could play as the soundtrack for grand Hollywood movies.
Rhapsody brings an extreme metal edge to the riffage and vocals in “Aeons of Raging Darkness” while culling from classic rock sounds for “I Belong to the Stars”.
On “Tornado” you can hear the battle between good and evil, the protagonist and the antagonist. It’s all there in sweeping aural majesty. An arpeggio heaven for neo classical fans.
Finally we get to the final epic track, the 20 minute, five part finale to 15 years of hard work. “Heroes of the Waterfalls’ Kingdom” begins with Sir Christopher Lee’s narrative before taking us on one last journey through the vastness of Rhapsody‘s magical kingdom. The various parts of this monumental closing track culminate perhaps the greatest sonic legacy in metal history.
Rhapsody Of Fire‘s music has never been meant to take in single doses, or hit songs. In fact, the concept of breaking any of these albums into separate tracks is blasphemous as each chapter must be heard as a whole.
While we wait eagerly for what Luca and Alex might bring us next, we accept From Chaos To Eternity as a final illustrious remembrance of this legendary saga.
Thank you, brothers for the gift.