Rhapsody of Fire - The Cold Embrace of Fear (Nuclear Blast/Riot)

Italy's finest take a whistlestop tour around Middle Earth, or somewhere.
Release Date: 
29 Oct 2010 - 11:30pm

But really, what’s the point? You’ll be hard pressed to find a more enthusiastic supporter of Luca Turilli’s grandiose, operatic visionary metal than I, and even when someone with my questionable grip on reality turns his nose up at something for being pointless then you get the feeling alarm bells should be ringing somewhere.

Billed as ‘A Dark Romantic Symphony’, TCEOF is actually nothing of the sort. What it is is a stopgap – possibly to meet Nuclear Blast’s contractual requirements? - which promises much but falls short in most areas. It’s not even a full-length album, the twenty or so minutes of actual music here being padded out to EP length by various acted-out tableaus which, when used as small, between-track buffers on a ‘proper’ album work well; when given as much weight in proceedings they just sound faintly ludicrous, even with the (by now inevitable) presence of Christopher Lee.

This is all a bit of a shame as, when the band actually concentrate on doing their jobs, the results are predictably stunning. Musical centrepiece The Ancient Fires of Har-Kuun (stop laughing at the back)is brilliantly, flamboyantly executed – Joey DeMaio surely has nightmares every time Turilli gives flight to a new creation - with vocalist Fabio Lione in particular delivering the goods this time out. If they listen to heavy metal in the next world – surely they do- then Turilli might get in a bit of trouble from Niccolo Paganini’s lawyers, but it’s that supreme synthesis of old music and new dynamics that makes this band such a special commodity when it keeps its eye on the ball I suppose; It’s just that, on this release there’s just not enough musical dynamism to get truly worked up about. A near miss.