By Bob Nalbandian

Dawn Of Victory

Forbidden Fruit
Noise Records

Metal Blade

Rhapsody are Italy's finest metal export. This is symphonic metal at its best, featuring great classical interludes and incredible vocal harmonies. Guitarist Luca Turilli (who also has a couple solo CDs under his belt) is an incredible talent, his classically influenced solos remind me of Silver Mountain guitar great Jonas Hansson. If you're into symphonic metal, few bands do it as well as Rhapsody. A church-like chorus done by the Helmstedter Chamber Choir opens the CD, which then takes the listener into a epical journey, this CD would make the perfect film score to The Lord Of the Rings! Standout tracks include "Dawn Of Victory," the Celtic inspired "The Village OF Dwarves" (sounding reminiscent of Gary Moore's "Over The Hills And Far Away"), and my personal fave, "Holy Thunderforce." This band has already made their mark in both Europe and Japan, it'll be interesting to see how this band evolves here in the US.

Believe it or not, Forbidden Fruit marks Elegy's sixth studio release. Featuring the remarkable vocals of Ian Parry (who also has one or two solo CDs under his belt), who is one of the most promising vocalists to come about in a long time! Great epical metal, sounding like classic Dio-era Rainbow at times. The CD starts out strong with "Icehouse," (a great tune) but unfortunately the band have a difficult time keeping the momentum going. Nonetheless, a CD worth checking out.

Symphony X hail from New Jersey, and can very well be America's answer to the new-school Euro-metal. Obviously, this band come from the same school as European counterparts Stratovarious, Kamelot, Squeeler, Labyrinth, Rhapsody, Shadow Keep, Elegy, etc. Strong musicianship, great vocals and well-written symphonic themes highlight this 13-song disc. Symphony X has the potential to achieve the same success here in the US, as they've achieved overseas. They have what it takes to rank amongst other US prog/classical-metal greats such as Savatage, Dream Theater, and Fate's Warning.

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