Power metal fans will have been drooling at the mouth when it was announced that the two voices of Italian troupe Rhapsody (and variations thereof), Fabio Lione and Alessandro Conti, would be joining forces on a self-titled album. Surely such a combination could not fail to produce a power metal masterpiece that was strong of heart and pure of spirit, full of soaring vocal melodies and face-melting guitar solos that would keep the darkness of the world at bay? And there are always the wind machine sales for the music videos to consider…
Opening track Ascension starts proceedings without any of the traits typically used on an album such as this. Rather than going for flashy guitar work and fast rhythms it is (relatively) mid-tempo and keeps the instrumental parts simple enough that the focus is predominantly on the vocals. This may seem sensible when the singers are the albums marketing point, but Ascension is hardly a track to excite the listener, offering five minutes of run-of-the-mill melodic metal that is easy on the ear and not a lot else. It wouldn’t be a proper power metal album without, well, some power, and the album really bares its pearly whites on tracks such as Outcome and Gravity. Both tracks add some excitement to what is an otherwise fairly standard set of songs. Given the genre and both vocalists background you expect a sense of grandeur and splendour, songs that make you envisage grand mountain landscapes and battles between great heroes of old. But, unfortunately, most songs lose interest after the first chorus. Even songs with titles like Destruction Show leave you wanting more than the bouncy sing-along chorus that is presented.
Of course, the main selling point for this record is the alliance of the two vocalists on the cover. Vocal pairings tend to work best when each singer has somethings that contrasts with the other yet combines with their counterpart to make something unique. Of course, this is idealised, but you would still expect each vocal part to bring something to the table that could not be achieved by either artist on their own. Yet, unless you were an ardent follower of both Lione and Conti, you would be hard pressed to distinguish their vocal parts from one another. They are both hugely talented singers, but you can’t escape the fact that they sound eerily similar. Similarity aside, both Lione and Conti prove why they have such a reputation within their field, showing their versatility and range across the whole album. Highlights are the obligatory ballad Somebody Else and the classic power metal rush of Gravity. Both feature clean and polished vocal performances where even the highest notes seem to pose no problem.
Ultimately, this is a very safe album. It contains all the features that will keep classic power metal fans happy and doesn’t risk alienating anyone by pushing boundaries. And that is the disappointment, that uniting these two vocalists hasn’t resulted in anything more exciting than a by-the-book melodic metal album. A pleasant enough listen, but not what either will be remembered for.
Highlights: Outcome, Somebody Else and Gravity