February 17, 2006

CD Review: Rhapsody - Live in Canada 2005: The Dark Secret

I always thought I listened to a wide selection of bands, granted most of them were in or around the main stream. Since I have started writing, over the past couple of years, I have been exposed to many bands that I have never heard of. Some of those qualify as main stream and some don't. The latest band to join that list of previously unheard by me bands is Rhapsody. I saw them described as "film-score metal" and I knew I had to hear them.

As the music began to emanate from my speakers, I was instantly reminded of three bands that Rhapsody reminded me of. Those bands are Savatage, Blind Guardian, and Dream Theater. The music presented during this live set is fantastic and Rhapsody has most definitely won themselves a new fan.

Live in Canada was recorded at the Metropolis in Montreal, Canada on June 14, 2005. The recording captures over 60 minutes of musical intensity. The disk is much more than the music, you can picture the stage show. I am not, generally, a big fan of live albums, there are some very good ones, but there are also countless live releases that just should not have been. Also, when it comes to choosing between a live CD and DVD of the same show, I will always go for the DVD. With the DVD you can not only listen to the show, but watch it and imagine yourself in the crowd. This CD almost bridges that gap.

As I listened to the music, and the fantastic crowd interaction and participation, I could see myself standing in the crowd while my face blistered from the tight, precise, assault force that was staking claim to the stage in front of me. This is a band that has made peace with its theatrical aspirations, the music they create is bombastic, larger than life, and I loved every note of it.

In my musical journies over the past 17 or so years I have come to learn something about my tastes. First, metal will always be my genre of choice, this includes the subcategories and labels that get thrust upon the varying styles. Secondly, and possibly more importantly, I like music that is structured, meaning I tend to shy away from many of the hardcore/screamo/punk styled acts in favor of more power metal/progressive metal/and what has become the red-headed stepchild of metal, nu-metal. What does this have to do with my listening to Rhapsody? Listen to them. Intensely precise music that just grabs you and doesn't let go.

There is only one problem with this disk, I wanted more! Much like going to see a favorite brand in concert, when they are done, you want more, always more. This setlist contains an addictive element, the music is infectious. It gets in your brain and swirls around in there getting caught in the folds of gray matter. From the opening insanity of "Unholy Warcry" to the sprawling epic of "Erian's Mystical Rhymes" to the brilliance of "Emerald Sword", this is all A list material from start to finish.

The CD comes in 2 flavors. First there is the CD-only edition, then there is a limited edition that comes with a DVD. The DVD contains a 10 minute peak at the upcoming live DVD. There is some concert footage as well as interview footage, this amounts to little more than a tease and a promise that you will be spending some more money. Secondly, the DVD also has the entire concert, audio only, in a 5.1 mix, so if you have a nice home theater setup, pop this in the DVD player and listen to the expanded mix.

Bottomline. Rhapsody, you have a new fan in me. This is an impressive excursion into progressive power metal. Tight musicianship with that theatrical bent is enough to suck me in. This is a must have for fans, and a nice introduction to the world of Italian film-score metal. Oh yeah, there is some narration from actor Christopher Lee!

Highly Recommended. **** / *****


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