(Live Review) RHAPSODY ON FIRE + SUPPORT - The Forge, Joliet, Illinois (5/16/23)
By: The Beard & Little Johnny
Tonight, your dynamic duo (the Beard and Little Johnny), are waiting in line on a lovely 80-degree day to get into Joliet’s metal club The Forge. On tap tonight, for stop 20 and bands 96-99 on our The Reviews Never Stop Tour 2023, a power metal quartet of bands featuring:
Rhapsody on Fire
Lords of the Trident
This fine evening, we shall hoist ales and sing along to tales of swords and sorcery, damsels and dragons, conquests and glory. Funny story, when at the bar the Beard asked what brands of ale they had. The very cute bartendress said, “uh we have 312.” At this point I realized she was hired for reasons other than her knowledge of beer. I settled for a Guinness and Johnny got the Goose IPA. We will still hoist and cheer.
First up, Wisconsin power metal act ...
THE LORDS OF THE TRIDENT
The Lords present as a bit of a mock act with a guitarist who resembles Lucius Malfoy and a bassist who wears a cloak and hood looking like he just got out of Sherwood Forest. Lead singer Ty Christianson (aka Fang Von Wrathenstien) may have a load of effects and shtick to his act, what with the flaming sword, light up tiny guitar, funny glasses and a host of other tricks, but pay attention, as the man is actually a talented singer with a great deal of almost operatic range. Additionally, the band can really play, mixing progressive and complex instrumentation into the traditional Power Metal songs about dragons, pirates and other ne’er-do-wells.
For the openers, The LOTT were fun, engaging and exactly what they needed to be in this thirty-minute warm up slot.
Second up tonight were Florida unit ...
Touring behind 2022’s Zenith release, Seven Kingdoms (who took their name from The Game of Thrones) are epic power metal with a female lead singer who apparently loves burger plushies since that was her footwear. Yes, you did read that sentence correctly. Little Johnny asked after the show, “Was that second band chick wearing hamburgers on her feet?” Yes Johnny, yes, she was.
Musically, they were average power metal with a decent sound and vocalist Sabrina Valentine, despite the array of plushies adorning both her feet and the stage, could hit the high notes, but nothing else really stood out. Guitarist Camden Cruz was animated and worked the crowd hard which was drawing a strong response. The Beard must admit, that the crowd was hot for Seven Kingdoms and as a reviewer you can have your opinion, but you must also respect the crowd.
While personally I would have gone 82, the crowd response demands higher, so 85 it shall be ...
Third up were the Tuscany, Italy's ...
Touring behind 2022’s Warfront, Wind Rose plays power folk metal inspired by the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, specifically the Dwarves, which was also how they came dressed to play.
Within seconds, the Beard had little doubt who much of this crowd were here to see. From the moment the backdrop banner was raised, the crowd popped and stayed up and excited throughout the entire set.
Power metal, unlike black or death, doesn’t desire to produce depression or angry aggression. Power metal produces enthusiasm and a beer hall atmosphere which The Beard found pleasant after so much of the other these last few months. I am not disparaging the other, but the world can only “suck” on every song for so long before you actually want some revelry.
With Wind Rose though, sing-a-longs and crowd participation was both expected and vigorously encouraged. Johnny may not have known the words, but he clanked beers and waved his arms with the rest of the stage front enthusiasts.
On the second song, "Drunken Dwarves", the circle pits came to life and Johnny was bellowing and running around like his usual crazy self, but with a wide smile as he laughingly bounced too and fro off others. The crowd was amazingly into these guys and their folk styled Lord of the Rings metal. Songs like "Mine Mine Mine" and "Together We Rise" really did give life to what kinds of lyrics a Dwarf (in Tolkien’s world) would sing.
The Wind Rose set reminded me of Sabaton with respect to total commitment on stage and to the tremendously hot crowd. The Beard likes Tolkien, and the Beard likes these guys. Additionally, as I said before, you must respect any crowd (who instead of the traditional mosh pit, actually created a “rowing pit” where about 12 guys formed lines, sat on the floor and acted like they were rowing a galley). That was different and cool to watch. The final number "Diggity Diggity Hole" was raucous and an easy sing-along even if you had never heard it before.
The Beard is awarding Wind Rose and their drunken dwarven metal a huge 94/100. This was a set, a show, and a hoot to be a part of. These guys gave a very excellent performance.
Headliners for this evening was ...
RHAPSODY OF FIRE
Another Italian band (this time from Trieste) doing symphonic metal.
Although there have been several incarnations of the band during their almost thirty-year, thirteen album career, original member and keyboardist Alex Staropoli was unable to be here due to Visa issues forcing Rhapsody to perform as a four piece with the keys subbed in.
Touring behind Glory for Salvation, Rhapsody on Fire revels in the epic symphony sound of power metal. Soaring vocals, heavy keys and orchestral adds throughout. Singer Giacomo Voli hits the high notes well and gave the crowd an operatic tour through their hour-long headlining set. He also taught the crowd how to curse in Italian which is handy. His friendly and easy going stage banter was a huge part of the bands success.
Rhapsody on Fire most definitely came across as “Big”, but even so, it seemed a letdown after those crazy dwarves of Wind Rose. Rhapsody, and their concept saga story of the Nephilim and their attempts to regain power and dominance over the Earth, was interesting thoughout and I could see myself buying the last few albums just to immerse myself in the tale. Once again, power metal is famous for the epic stories of glory and having a vocalist with the range of a Giacomo Voli is necessary to pull that off.
Musically, Rhapsody on Fire had traces of Iron Savior and Avantasia in their sound, as well as touches of Hammerfall or even Helloween. It was indeed sweepingly epic in scope, but even with all that going on, just like with the Enslaved set a few weeks ago, the Beard was not seeing the “whole band”, and without that, was not seeing the “whole show”. I graded the set in front of me, and while in full this might have been a 90+, as it stood I can only go 87/100. (Which, without the full band, is still stellar).
Overall, a good night away from death and black. Fun was had by all, and a new act enters the top ten so far this year as Little Johnny and I sit on the cusp of our one hundredth band reviewed.
As always, you can read all our reviews on The Mighty Decibel and see new ones every week on Wednesday’s and Thursdays.
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Until next time, stay Metal and as always ...