The problem with reviewing the release from a band like Rhapsody of Fire is that it is pretty much unavoidable to compare their new stuff to their classic albums from a few decades back. Especially with this band, which has seen so many line-up changes, dramas, iterations of itself, and a heap of albums and EP’s in the middle, I come here with high expectations, as I know what Mr. Alex Staropoli and company are capable of. Rhapsody of Fire needs no introduction, but if you are new to the band, they basically play Symphonic Power Metal with a very Hollywood-esque approach. Their lyrics delve into fantasy themes and the music itself often reflects this very accurately. A few months back, Rhapsody of Fire released an EP called “I’ll be Your Hero” that was a small taster for this new album “Glory for Salvation”.
The music starts with “Son of Vengeance”, a good opening mid-tempo song with marchy vibes that reminds me of “March of the Swordmaster” from 2002’s “Power of the Dragonflame”. It is a very approachable track with amazing vocals and catchy melodies. Probably a bit slow for a Power Metal opening track but it sets the mood in a perfect way. “The Kingdom of Ice” comes next, and this is when things are sped up a few notches. This one is a fast-paced tune with great riffs, leads, and a massive chorus. The chorus is pure old-school deliciousness. All in all, a strong single-sized song that will surely make its way to every live setlist in the band’s next shows. The title track comes right after, and it is a textbook example of what Symphonic Power Metal is. All the elements are there and it is perfectly executed, but unfortunately, it fails to be as memorable as most of the band’s other songs. It is good but definitely nothing new, the guitar solo is amazing though. “Eternal Snow” is a short acoustic interlude that serves as a prelude to the next track, and there is really nothing more to it. It is nice, calm and folky, but skippable if you’re not into those atmospheric interludes. It leads into “Terial the Hawk”, a very enjoyable folky song with Pirate metal vibes (Think Mago de Oz or early Saurom) that reminds me of their classic “The Village of Dwarves”. It is whimsical, naive and will most likely put a smile on your face with its jolly melodies and sing-along chorus. It has a small acoustic intro that seems rather unnecessary though, given that “Eternal Snow” is pretty much an intro to this song already.
Things become faster once again with “Maid of the Secret Sand”, a perfectly good Power Metal song that has all the elements you can expect but feels a bit uninspired. And therein lies my main issue with this album: maybe it is my nostalgia for early Rhapsody speaking, but it just feels a little bit uninspired to me in general. The songs are for the most part good and the performances are usually stellar, but they lack that “something” that used to make this band the undisputed kings of Sympho-Power. I feel like Rhapsody of Fire has reached a point of comfort where they know what they represent for the genre and they know their status as one of the biggest Power Metal bands ever, and they are perfectly fine with staying there and just producing more albums that don’t push their limits in any way. It is a shame because when this band (even after the departure of legends like Luca Turilli and Fabio Lione) wants to be fabulous, they absolutely are. I just feel that this is a very safe album even by their standards. This claim becomes even more evident in the almost 11-minute long “Abyss of Pain II”. This song is a borefest from start to finish in my opinion. It is that rulebook super long song that every Rhapsody of Fire album must-have. But long doesn’t always mean epic and standout-ish. “Abyss of Pain II” opens with a very very long cinematic intro that leads us into a pounding mid-tempo riff and a verse where Giacomo Voli experiments with guttural voices in a very melodramatic way. The song never really takes off and the whole 11 minutes feel even longer than they actually are. The next song is “Infinitae Gloriae”, another middle-of-the-road song with no obvious faults other than it is just not as memorable as others, but definitely better than the previous track. It has very nice atmospheres and soaring vocals, and the guitar solo is absolutely stellar though.
Fortunately, the last third of the album is stronger than its middle section. “Magic Signs” is the quintessential Rhapsody of Fire album ballad. It is epic, brooding, and very sing-along. They have better ballads but this one is still worth listening to. If you are a fan of Power Metal ballads this one won’t disappoint. “I’ll be Your Hero” comes next. This was the song that was given to us as a teaser in their previous EP of the same name. It is a happy and very dynamic song that feels like a breath of fresh air as it explores some pop elements that the band doesn’t usually go to. It is a thoroughly enjoyable song that will be sung live very soon I bet. The only difference between this version of the song and the one in the EP a few months back, is that this one has a new intro section that builds up till the actual song kicks off. I am very glad to report that the best was saved for last. The album’s closing track “Chains of Destiny” is easily the best song in “Glory For Salvation”. A fast-paced Power Metal anthem that feels like it came straight out of “Symphony of Enchanted Lands” with its anthemic chorus and amazing musicianship. This song has all the right elements that made Rhapsody of Fire the standard-bearers of Sympho-Power for a long time. It the perfect closing track for an uneven album that sometimes feels like it could do more for the fans.
Production-wise, this album is almost perfect. Everything is perfectly audible and balanced, which is a feat when you talk about a band like Rhapsody of Fire that has an insane amount of tracks and layers in their recordings to achieve those thick atmospheres and cinematic passages. The musicians are top-notch as usual and everyone delivers their best. I won’t delve further into what makes this album not as strong as other past efforts by the band, as I have covered that already. If you are a long-time fan of Rhapsody or Fire waiting for a new classic album, you might be a bit disappointed, but there is still very good music here. And if you are new to the band and to the subgenre of Sympho-Power, you’ll have a great time listening to an album that pretty much encases a lot of the elements that makes this genre so enjoyable.
Album highlights: The Kingdom of Ice, Terial the Hawk, I’ll be Your Hero, Chains Of Destiny.
For fans of: Twilight Force, Luca Turilli, Fairyland, All of the other iterations of Rhapsody…
Rhapsody of Fire: Facebook
Release Year: 2021
Label: AFM Records
Reviewed by Roman Ibarra