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‘Challenge The Wind’ Is A Mostly Successful Entry To 2024’s Field Of New Power Metal Albums

Almost 10 years ago, Rhapsody of Fire opened its fantasy musical story known as “The Nephilim’s Empire Saga” when it released The Eighth Mountain.  Released in 2019, it opened the story of a damned wizard known as Kreel who was raised from the dead by the evil Nephilim leader Bezrael to unwittingly help him commit a series of heinous acts.  The band released the saga’s second chapter more than two years later in the form of Glory For Salvation.  That album closed with Kreel beginning his journey of redemption after he learns the truth of his situation.  Now this Friday, the band will complete the saga when it releases its 14th album, Challenge the Wind.  That story that is at the heart of this record and its predecessors sits at the center of its presentation as both a positive and negative.  This will be addressed shortly.  More to the positive, the album’s musical arrangements are certain to engage and entertain a wide range of listeners.  Keeping in mind the positives and negatives noted here, the whole therein makes this finale to “The Nephilim’s Empire Saga” an intriguing offering that will appeal widely among metal and fantasy fans.

Challenge The Wind, the forthcoming 14th album from Rhapsody of Fire and the finale to the band’s saga, “The Nephilim’s Empire,” is an interesting new offering from the band that will appeal to a wide range of audiences.  Its appeal comes in large part to its featured story.  The story in question picks up where its predecessor, Glory for Salvation left off.  The magician Kreel, who had been resurrected at the saga’s opening chapter, The Eighth Mountain, knows the truth of what has been done to him and what he has been led to unwittingly do for the evil Nephilim Empire.  Now his journey of retribution takes place in this final chapter of the saga.  For the band’s longtime fans, those established audiences who have followed the band since its infancy up to this point, those audiences are sure to be intrigued by the story, having waited a little more than two years for the story to reach its end.  What’s more, anyone who is a fan of the fantasy world (both in regard to music and in general) is sure to find appeal through the story.  To that end, the story featured in this record is a clear positive for the record.

At the same time that the story in this last chapter of The Nephilim Empire Saga” will appeal to the noted audiences, it could also be argued to be a negative, to a point.  More casual audiences who are perhaps familiar with a smaller sample of the band’s catalog may find less reason to take in the album due to a lack of familiarity with the story.  On the surface this may not seem like a problem but every musical act wants to make records that are accessible to as many audiences as possible.  That any audience would have to go back in time (so to speak) and pick up other titles just to know what is going on here can actually prove detrimental because not everybody wants to have to dedicate so much time to any title.  This is exactly the issue that has plagued the world of television serials and comic books for ages.  Having to invest so much time of a person’s life to anything can and often is demotivating.  To that end, the story being just one part of a bigger story will keep the appeal limited to a specific audience base, albeit a wide audience therein, interestingly enough.

Knowing that the story at the heart of Challenge the Wind is both good and bad, it is reason enough for audiences to give the album a chance.  Maybe just maybe the understanding of its role in the bigger picture of the saga could actually influence “outsiders” to go back to the story’s first two chapters and in turn develop a new respect and admiration for the album and the band.  Keeping this in mind, there is at least one more positive to note of Challenge the Wind in the form of its musical presentation.  The musical side of Challenge the Wind is everything that audiences have come to know from Rhapsody of fire.  The familiar blend of power metal and harder-edged hard rock and metal is just as prevalent here as ever.  One of the most notable of the arrangements in this record that supports said argument comes in the form of the early entry, ‘Vanquished By Shadows.’  Clocking in at more than 16-and-a-half minutes, it is the album’s longest entry.  It is in fact a multiple movement composition that opens strongly with its black metal style vocals from front man Giacomo Voli and intense guitar work from Roby De Micheli.  The smooth transitions between the movements ensure viewers’ engagement, as do the stylistic changes in each movement.  The album’s opener and title track meanwhile presents a sound and style that is easily comparable to works from the likes of Dragonforce in a good way.  As if that is not enough, ‘Diamond Claws’ offers a great blend of power metal and speed metal in one that makes it stand just as strongly on its own merits.  When this song’s arrangement is considered alongside the others noted here and that trio’s result is considered alongside the rest of the album’s works, the whole therein makes clear what makes the album’s musical content so important to its whole.  Keeping that in mind, the positive impact of the album’s musical arrangements pairs with the record’s story to make for all the more appeal among the noted targeted audiences.  When said listeners take in the album, they will agree that Challenge The Wind is a mostly successful new offering from the veteran power metal outfit and another mostly welcome addition to this year’s field of power metal offerings.

Challenge The Wind, the 14th album from Rhapsody of Fire and the finale to the band’s “Nephilim Empire Saga,” is a mostly successful new offering from the veteran power metal band.  It is a presentation that the band’s established audiences will find appealing just as much as perhaps fantasy fans who might be less familiar with the band and its catalog.  That is due to its fantasy-based story.  Because it is part of a bigger story though, some of those less familiar with the bigger story may not find themselves wanting to dedicate so much time to the overall story.  Having to dedicate so much time to what is essentially a serial story is why not everyone is interested in so much of what is on television and in theaters today.  It has also burdened the comics industry for decades, too.  To that end, the story is both a positive and negative.  The negative is not enough to doom the album, though.  To that end, there is one more positive; the album’s musical arrangements.  The arrangements once again blend the band’s familiar power metal leanings with just enough hard rock and other metal subgenres to generate plenty of engagement and entertainment.  When the positive of those arrangements is paired with the positive of the record’s story, that pairing makes Challenge the Wind a mostly successful addition to this year’s field of new power metal albums.

Challenge the Wind is scheduled for release Friday through AFM Records.  More information on the album is available along with all of Rhapsody of Fire’s latest news at: