Rhapsody of Fire

From Chaos to Eternity

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Even by the symphonic metal scene's typically grandiose standards, Italian six-piece Rhapsody of Fire's conceptual series of albums have been nothing less than ambitious. A sprawling Tolkien-esque fantasy about the battle between good and evil, their Chronicles of Algalord saga has played out over eight equally epic records since their 1997 debut, Legendary Tales. Fourteen years on and its ninth chapter, From Chaos to Eternity faces the difficult challenge of wrapping everything up in one neat package. Those new to their unashamedly overblown brand of neo-classical rock shouldn't be too perturbed if they find it difficult to keep up, as even those who have religiously followed every twist and turn are likely to be none the wiser, with only unlikely metal hero Christopher Lee's suitably imposing narration offering any clear insight as to what it's all about. Luckily, the confusing plot isn't any obstacle to enjoying the pure bombast and sheer pomposity that its nine tracks provide. A final swan song for founding member Luca Turilli, who left the band to concentrate on a new project shortly after its recording, the follow-up to 2010's The Frozen Tears of Angels is once again defined by his frantic, axe-wielding solos, whether it's the blistering title track, which recalls the theatrical Eurovision rock of Lordi, the proggy atmospherics of "Ghosts of Forgotten Worlds," or the aggressive thrash metal of "Aeons of Raging Darkness." And while overwrought ballads "Anima Perduta" (one of two Italian-sung tracks) and "I Belong to the Stars" could have escaped from an Il Divo record, the majestic closer "Heroes of the Waterfalls' Kingdom" reaffirms their rock opera credentials. A 20-minute, five-part magnum opus, it closes the fictitious tale exactly as you'd expect it to, lurching from medieval folk to Beethoven-borrowing symphony to frenzied speed metal in an appropriately overly dramatic fashion. A fitting conclusion to an often bewildering concept, From Chaos to Eternity is just as ostentatious and histrionic as you'd hope.

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