So I've finally had a chance to listen through Rhapsody of Fire's new album, From Chaos to Eternity, a couple times. (I got it nearly a week ago already, but a certain marathon got in the way.) I'll still have to listen to it more, of course, but in a nutshell: yeah, think I like it.
First of all: the box! I got the 'exclusive edition' from Nuclear Blast's web shop. This 500 copy limited edition came in a larger than normal box, containing a large sized booklet (c. 17 by 17cm), special versions of the CD (one without vocals, and one without lead guitar), and a poster map of the fantasy world the story is set in! All in all, pretty cool, although I can't fathom why anyone would want to listen to the album without lead guitar... It is, quite likely, one of the coolest albums I own, packaging-wise. Of course there is the problem of where to store it, since it won't fit in a regular CD shelf. And it makes my other Rhapsody albums kinda pale in comparison (most of them are regular jewel case versions).
Musically there are some fairly neat moments, and it still seems surprisingly fresh, even considering that they've released three CD's in little more than a year. Like with Frozen Tears of Angels, the focus is more on rock, with less orchestral elements. Which is fine by me. Luca Turilli's neo-classical solos are again a major component of the sound.
But one of the main questions, of course, is the story. It was announced well in advance that this would be the final chapter of the ongoing fantasy saga. Which meant they would have to cram in a lot of story, and this, indeed, they've done. Almost too much, one could say. There's quests all over the world, an entire war covered in a couple minutes, and of course the climactic final confrontation... It's not that it's bad, per se, but I feel they could've done it more justice. Frankly, there'd have been enough material there to be dealt with over a couple albums at least, in more detail. Also, the gist of the story is covered in the long final track (and notes in the booklet), and I have some trouble placing many of the other songs within the story.
So yeah, of course there'd be room for improvement, but I'm by no means disappointed.