Rhapsody of Fire

The Cold Embrace of Fear: A Dark Romantic Symphony

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When a band hires the great British horror icon Christopher Lee to provide spoken narration on some of its albums, you know that the band takes its fantasy seriously. Lee made a guest appearance on Rhapsody of Fire's 2009 recording The Frozen Tears of Angels, and he reunites with Luca Turilli and friends on their equally epic follow-up album, The Cold Embrace of Fear. Lead singer Fabio Lione is the main vocalist, but Lee appears for some guest narration, and his presence adds a strong fantasy element to what was already a very fantasy-driven band to begin with. This epic concept album is about several warriors who invade a castle named Har-Kuun in search of an ancient holy book; those guarding the castle include, among others, a dragon. The lyrics are as overblown and over the top as Rhapsody of Fire's power metal and progressive metal melodies, and true to form, Luca Turilli and his friends aren't even remotely ironic about it. The Cold Embrace of Fear doesn't shy away from the bloated excesses of epic power metal and epic progressive metal; instead, it celebrates those excesses without apology. Rhapsody of Fire (formerly Rhapsody) continue to be ultra-campy and proud of it. And like other albums in the Italian metalheads' catalog, The Cold Embrace of Fear is bound to inspire adoration from some listeners and disdain from others. But if one accepts The Cold Embrace of Fear for what it is -- total fantasy and total escapism -- and doesn't look for lyrics that he/she can actually relate to on some level, it is easy to enjoy Turilli's goofy imagination. And while The Frozen Tears of Angels is a slightly stronger album, The Cold Embrace of Fear is certainly an entertaining follow-up.

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