JANUARY 19th, 2014
Review By: Metal Mom

Band Members -
Fabio Lione - Vocals
Alex Staropoli - Keyboards
Tom Hess - Guitars
Roberto De Micheli - Guitars
Oliver Holzwarth - Bass
Alex Holzwarth - Drums

Genre - Symphonic Metal
Record Label - AFM Records
Origin - Trieste, Italy    

Track Listing -
 1. Vis Divina (Divine Strength)
 2. Rising From Tragic Flames  
 3. Angel of Light
 4. Tears of Pain
 5. Fly to Crystal Skies
 6. My Sacrifice
 7. Silver Lake of Tears
 8. Custode di Pace (Guardian of Peace)
 9. Tale of Magic
10. Dark Wings of Steel  
11. Sad Mystic Moon  
12. A Candle to Light (extended version) [bonus track for LP & Digipak]

In all fairness, I am going to tell you right now, heard of the band, but never listened. And now that I have listened to their latest CD “Dark Wings of Steel” quite a few times, I can say what the heck I was waiting for. Trust me, you shouldn’t hesitate either. This is their 10th full length studio album and has been released in Europe Nov.22nd and Dec.3rd in the USA by AFM Records. This is also the first album to NOT feature guitarist and founding member Luca Turilli, and it’s the first WITH guitarist Roby De Micheli, and bassist Oliver Holzwarth.

Back in the 90’s they released their first album, “Legendary Tales” under the name Rhapsody, making a mark for themselves. Their first 4 albums exceeded sales of 1,000,000 copies, and put them at the top for most popular Metal artists worldwide. Pretty impressive don’t you think. With some trademark and copyright issues with the band, they needed to change their name to Rhapsody of Fire in 2003. Keyboardist/songwriter Alex Staropoli adds, “The name Rhapsody of Fire better represents the energy that has always been present in this band and its music.” 2012 saw some changes for the band, but the direction they took was classic and heavy, which we all love.

And now the release of their highly foreseen “Dark Wings of Steel” hit’s the stores. For the most part the songs have been written by Alex Staropoli and his brother Manuel. Lyrics were created by Fabio Lione. Some of the songs maintain the typical ROF sound, (after listening to review this album, I just had to check out previous albums), but with some fresh new elements kicked in, its hard to describe, seems to be a sensitive side, along with some heaviness. I really appreciate bands that also create a song or two in their own native tongue. And Italian seems to be a great choice for doing just this. They also worked with a real orchestra and choir, giving us an exemplary sound.

The recording took place in three different studios, and the mix was done by Sebastian Roeder, the mastering by Christoph Stickel.

What do I think, well this really is something that encompasses a lot of elements to their music, and personally I love symphonic if it’s done right, and “Dark Wings of Steel” is superior in sound. What you are going to get here is some fast guitar riffs, and lets mention Robert on guitar too, coming into his own right here. Choirs that join in with Fabio’s solid and passionate vocals. Ballads in metal you say, oh yeah, just listen to it, and you will appreciate what went into the making of this. There is even some acoustic guitar here, live orchestras, you name it, there is a lot going on with this album, and Rhapsody of Fire have managed to pull it all together to give us an exceptional piece of music to listen to.

Now that I have enjoyed this album so much, the next best thing would be for them to tour and come to my city, or near enough for me to travel and check them out live. Don’t wonder about this album, there is no need, get yourself out there, grab it up, treat yourself to an early Christmas present.

Cannabis Corpse - Death Metal
Ghoul - Live-Loop Oriented Rock with tons of lasers

CANNABIS CORPSE, who also have members from Municipal Waste/Gwar on board, are a pot themed Richmond, Virginia band who did their recording at bassist/vocalist Land Phil’s own studios in Richmond.

And GHOUL, who have an undying enthusiasm for monsters, mad scientists and serial killers, returned to Earhammer Studios in California.  Then the whole affair was mastered by Dan Randall at Mammoth Sound. As of January 7th this unholy withering 4 track split can now be in your hands.

The artwork was done by Andrei Bouzikov (Municipal Waste/Skeletonwich/Toxic Holocaust). Look at the cover and you will see both bands characterized in the work, Cannabis with their weed buds, and surrounded by feet. Along with the masked Ghoul’s riding their monsters on scene.

Cannabis Corpse, if you have seen them live, take pride in their face molesting riffs, and some death metal ironies. It’s also the first to feature lead guitarist Brent Purgason, also known as Pustulus Maximus, who took over the axe role of late Cory Smoot (aka Flattus Maximus) last year.

The masked abnormalities known as Ghoul take on their own realm of gore rituals, and bring to the forefront some true psychotic brain mashing.

These 4 tracks, (12 minutes) 2 by each band, are precise, gory, thrash, weed minded, death metal, hardcore, and well, just put all that into a mixer and you have “Splatterhash”.  A brutal assault on your ear drums. I am personally starting to like these split Cd’s, it gives me a different outlook, 2 distinct bands, with some talent, creating something that is worth the listen. I would have liked to see more songs from each. But I will enjoy this.

Track Listing:
1. The Inhalation Plague (CANNABIS CORPSE)
2. Shatter Their Bongs (CANNABIS CORPSE)
3. Inner Sanctum (GHOUL)
4. Spill Your Guts (GHOUL)