Sometime in the first half of 2011, Rhapsody are set to conclude the concept started off in their first album: "Legendary Tales" (1997) - one which will have spanned 10 albums and a couple of EPs. As a prelude to that final chapter, the band has released this EP which is actually an offshoot of their album "The Frozen Tears of Angels" - released earlier this year. "The Cold Embrace of Fear" in fact consists of 1 track broken down into 7 more manageable (for the listener, at least) pieces. All this shows that Rhapsody are still the ultimate name as far as epic and intricate Metal concepts go.
But does the music we have here live up to all this hype? Well Rhapsody have never failed to surprise me - each of their releases has its own musical character and this EP is no exception. There are more mid-tempo riffs than earlier material, several spoken parts (recorded by trained actors) and the female vocals are given a number of opportunities to shine as a lead instrument. Apart from all this, the salient characteristics of Rhapsody's unique sound are ever-present: opulent choirs, neo-classical melodies and an approach to composing that takes inspiration from film-scores. The orchestrations are magnificent and the way they merge with the more contemporary Metal sounds is absolutely convincing.
Once more, legendary actor Christopher Lee (Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, The Satanic Rites of Dracula, etc.) gives the release a further touch of class with his sombre narrations. Guitarist Luca Turilli was never what one might refer to as a virtuoso but in "The Cold Embrace of Fear" he gives some impressive displays. Likewise bassist Patrice Guers (Patrick Rondat, Ian Parry.....) and drummer Alex Holzwarth (Angra, Avantasia, Blind Guardian, Kamelot.....) sound more adventurous than usual.
This might not be the band's best release but it certainly lives up to the high standards of Rhapsody.
An EPic EP!