You know we are not heading to a great start when the EP to be reviewed has 8 tracks, and 4 of them are exactly the same song, with the only difference being that each version is sung in a different language. To be honest with you, I haven’t listened very carefully to anything Rhapsody Of Fire has released since the days when they were only known as Rhapsody. These days only keyboardist Alex Staropoli remains from the classic lineup from the late ’90s and early ’00s, which also included singer Fabio Lione and guitar virtuoso Luca Turilli. It is tricky to keep up with what version of the band you are listening to, as that split created a division and if I remember well, at some point in time we had like 3 different Rhapsody’s in a parallel existence. “I’ll Be Your Hero” EP is the band’s most recent release since 2019’s “The Eighth Mountain”, and it is made of 1 new song, 2 live versions, 1 re-recording of an old song, and the aforementioned 4 versions of the same song. So let’s go in order:
The EP starts with “I’ll Be Your Hero”, the only new track in this release. This one does not sound like the epic Hollywood-esque Rhapsody of previous years, like, at all. Instead, we get a flamboyant and jumpy track that makes me think more of bands like Dragony or Beast in Black. Giacomo Voli shows us he is an amazing singer by leading this song with catchy hooks, but personally, I find it to be a letdown, considering this is the only new original song we get here. Next comes a re-recording of 1998’s “Where Dragons Fly”. The original version of this song used to be a staple of my playlist back in my teenage years, so I find it a bit awkward to revisit it sounding different to what I’m used to. It is a folky medieval ballad with a bombastic chorus that still takes me to faraway lands when I listen to it (nostalgia factor), and Voli’s performance is again stellar, but personally, I still prefer the melodramatic tones of the original. Next, we have live versions for “Rain of Fury” and “The Courage to Forgive”, 2 tracks that appeared in their previous album. To the band’s defence, “Rain of Fury” is probably the best track from that album, and “The Courage to Forgive” is an excellently well written Power Metal song, so listening to them in their live versions is always welcome.
The last half of the album is where they lose me totally. “The Wind, The Rain and The Moon” is a slow and dramatic ballad. It has good orchestral atmospheres and a beautiful guitar solo, but it is definitely not as memorable as other slow songs from the band like “Lamento Eroico”. The last 3 songs of the album are just versions of the same song but sung in Spanish, Italian and French. I did listen to all of them for the sake of review, but there is nothing worth noting once you’ve listened to one of them. I did find the French version to be the nicer one though. Still, this makes this last half of the EP feel like pure filler material thrown in for the sake of content.
In general, this EP feels more like a compilation showcase of the band’s capabilities with the newest members than a real release, or in the worst of cases, a marketing ploy to cash in some before the band manages to give us a new full-length release. There is good Symphonic Power Metal here, but unless you’re a fan that is keen to collect every piece the band releases, I would say this EP is totally skippable. The solitary new track in “I’ll Be Your Hero” is not bad, but it isn’t a show-stopper either. As usual with Rhapsody of Fire, the musicianship is top-notch, there is just not enough content here to really grab me.
EP highlights: “Where Dragons Fly” (re-recorded), “Rain of Fury” (live)
For fans of: Luca Turilli, Twilight Force, all of the other Rhapsody’s.
RHAPSODY OF FIRE: Facebook
Release Year: 2021
Label: AFM Records
Reviewed by Roman Ibarra