Rhapsody Power of the Dragonflame

Releasing a power metal album at the same time as Blind Guardian is pretty much the biggest head shaker in the world of metal, but that's precisely what runners-up to the throne Rhapsody have done. Slight marketing mix-up aside, there is nothing to complain about with Power of the Dragonflame (except that album name). Rhapsody has always been a cut above almost all other power metal outfits and they proceed to get sharper with time. All the over-dramatic theatrics are employed here, creating a sound that is more a soundtrack than an album; the inspirational attack anthems, frilly keyboard runs, and double-kick led classic metal are all here in a big way, along with lots of extra instruments, funny choral vocal lines and embarrassing song names like "The March of the Swordmaster." The band is flawless with their fast change-ups and atmospheric swells and dips, and even with a playing time of 61 minutes this should keep all listeners enthralled. That is, until they move on to the Blind Guardian album. (Limb)