this week for the weekly review, we’re checking out Dawn of Victory, a 2000 record by Italian symphonic power metal band Rhapsody of Fire (formerly Rhapsody). this record is the third album in the Emerald Sword saga, so let’s check it out!

Lux Triumphans is our opener here, introing us with some narrative bits and a lot of ominous choral chanting. as mentioned, im jumping into the plus in part 3 of the narrative, so this gives a bit of a tone setter, but not necessarily a straight up plot summary (a move i think is very smart). next up is the title track, Dawn of Victory, and i am on board from the second those intro guitars give way to the violins, like emerging from a dark forest to a sweeping battlefield. plus the build into the chorus gets me every time. phenomenal triumphant vibes here. Triumph For My Magic Steel feels like a zoom in to first person on our protagonist – nice keeping up the epic swells over this track for sure. The Village of Dwarves functions a bit as a quiet before the storm, as much as they’re going to get quiet, haha. Dargor, Shadowlord of the Black Mountains is our villain track, and DAMN what a villain track. this track whips ass. The Bloody Rage of the Titans is another cool down after Dargor, and i dig it. Holy Thunderforce shows that, once again, these guys can deliver an incredibly stirring, epic chorus. undeniable. phenomenal track. Trolls In the Dark is instrumental, showing off some incredible guitar work. The Last Winged Unicorn is our darkest moment – the heroes failed before the dark king, the princess they came to save, tortured (kinda tastelessly and tonally inconsistently, ngl, my one gripe with this narratively) and killed. The Mighty Ride of the Firelord is our stirring finale, the longest track on the record by a wide margin, though, tbh, you can feel the split in the middle on this one. still, pretty successfully grim finale – one hero falls so that another escapes from the pit of darkness, and readies to retaliate against the dark kingdom.

faves – Dawn of Victory, Dargor, Shadowlord of the Black Mountain, Holy Thunderforce
dislikes –

yeah i had a great time revisiting this record. i never dove too deeply into Rhapspdy despite several friends loving them a long time ago, for a variety of reasons, but i did enjoy what i heard and i loved the concept. and its been really cool digging back in and seeing what id missed all those years ago.

firstly, musically, this was a blast. obviously great guitar by throughout, with Fabio Lione on vocals – plus there were several places where the percussion really shone here as well. phenomenally evocative music. i was worried early that things might get a bit same-y, but i feel they appropriately mixed in some more ballady tracks and shifted the vibes up throughout the record.

narratively… i wasnt sure what to expect, as most of my prior experience was through single tracks. a lot of the story here is very loose – creating the FEELING of sweeping down a battlefield with the cavalry rather than focusing on plot minutae. i think that works, conceptually – plenty of other narrative bands i enjoy leave chunks of the plot to suggestion or supplemental material. i do have at least one narrative gripe (noted above), and i found it kinda shitty that it was one of the plot points explicitly described lyrically multiple times. i dont mind as much that this ends in tragedy though – i find it kinda appropriate that it sets up a future installment, implying a kind of unending cycle of violence and glorious battle.

but on the whole, i did have a good time with the record, and it does make me want to dig back in and hear at least the rest of the Emerald Sword saga.

Dawn of Victory – 8/10

next week, i’ll be taking a trip back into my own personal listening history, and checking out Sister of Mercy’s second record, Floodland.  i’ll be back next Friday, March 31th with that review and to pick another weekly record, and in the meantime, let me know what album you’d like me to review! (i pool all suggestions in one place, and draw a person, then one pick from that person, so feel free to drop as many as you’d like! if you leave an email or username i’ll contact you when i’ve gotten through all your suggestions.)