This flamboyant, fey, swashbuckling form of metal polarizes metal fans, but love it or hate it, one has to admire how Rhapsody has always been one of the more consistent power metal acts coming out of Europe. Sorry, I mean Rhapsody of Fire, as the band has decided to change its name after learning of potential trademark hassles. Actually, Rhapsody of Fire suits this Italian band even better, the new moniker conveying the kind of ludicrous, borderline hilarity they’ve specialized in over the last decade or so. Triumph or Agony is nothing new (which means many will squirm upon hearing it), and although fans will appreciate the band staying the course with another collection of Tolkien-inspired epics, with a fellow power metal band like Blind Guardian continuing to evolve, Rhapsody of Fire risks getting stuck in a serious, predictable rut. Technically, this new album is very sharp, the production crisp and on an epic level (with an orchestra and choir), the guitar work of Luca Turilli as formidable as ever, and the theatricality of it all something to behold (Christopher Lee reprises his role as narrator on “Dark Reign of Fire”), but try as the band might, it’s B-level power metal at best, the bombast well executed, but the hooks not as gripping as they should be, and the length of it all is, quite frankly, exhausting.
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