Genre: Powermetal, Release: 2016
Four long yeas have Trick or Treat left us waiting, before they present with Rabbit's Hill - Part 2 the end of their musical retelling of Richard Adam#s Watership Down. The tension was kept high by the band. But was it worth all the waiting? Read the answer within this review.
The album starts with a rifle shot and builds on the end of the precursor (Bright Eyes was a movie song and more a bonus-cover on the album). A dark beginning can be heard and Inlé (The Black Rabbit of Death) introduces the album. Quickly, the song changes over to melodic speed metal, while the song title is recited death metal-like by Simone Bertozzi (EmpYrios). But exactly those growls appear a bit misplaced (even when death metal is fitting topical). Nevertheless a strong opener with felicitous lyrics.
The ballad Together Again continues the album with (similar to Rabbit's Hill - Part 1). Topically, it deals with the part, where Fiver finds his brother and brings him back to Watership Down.
Track number 3 is the first highlight of the album. Cloudrider. Of course, this song is dedicated to Kehaar. Very positive, this song expedites the album in best power metal manner. Both, text and music, catch the atmosphere perfectly. The guitar fraction does a great job, before the song spirals higher and higher in the end to leave the listener behind with the first highlight.
But there's no time to relax. Contrary to the previous song, Efrafa starts very dark. After some heavy guitars, a slave choir introduces clinking the song. Again, the chorus has earworm-qualities, accompanied by the already mentioned choir. Musically, the song keeps also thrilling and varied. Notwithstanding, or just because of the six and a half minutes playtime.
And when we're already in Efrafa, we continue with Never Say Goodbye. An awesome ballad with a sublime Sara Squadrani. It's a duet between Hazen and Hyzenthlay, recited marvelous by both vocalists. Another highlight on this album. Especially the lyrics will give you the creeps. Not forgetting the classy choir at the end. But I have to criticize, that this part could have been longer. It fades out very sudden.
Who's been in Efrafa for once, will leave as soon as possible, of course. The Great Escape starts. A dynamic, powerful speed metal song, who's surging ahead with fast guitars and creates simultaneously a optimistic mood. This song is simply a strong hymn and again, the Watership Down fan has an impressive mental cinema.
But of course, the escape doesn't remain undetected and Woundwort declares: They Must Die! Dark and majestic, the song starts, before Tim "Ripper" Owens slips into the General's role. He delivers a impressive (altough short) vocal performance. In contempt of his short commitment, the Ripper is carrying the song nearly single-handed and proves, that he was a dignified substitute for Judas Priest. Indeed, I wished for a singer with a deeper voice for Woundwort, but Tim Owens is THE highlight on the album and to my mind, They Must Die is worthy the musical realization of Woundwort.
As in the first part, we have here also an instrumental track. Contrary to Sassospasso from the predecessor, this song appeals anything but redundant . Without vocals, Beware the Train conveys very good the escape from Woundwort through the railroad tracks.
United, the rabbits face the battle against Woundwort. They get vocal support by Tony Kakko of Sonata Arctica. The folk beginning is followed by typical metal-riffs. Of course, this song has been lifted first from the album, because it conveys very well the atmosphere of the album.
The Showdown starts. The song begins calm, similar to United. But the characteristic Trick or Treat metal won't be long incoming. Anthemic, the song deals with the finale of the story. It may sound like exemplary hero metal à la Manowar or Hammerfall, but fits topically very well into the concept and shouldn't deter the listener. He would miss something: The finale has a running time of 10 minutes. Here, Trick or Treat present simply everything, the metal heart desires. Hymnal parts, speed metal, calm placements and choirs. The song closes with the exemplary end of Woundwort, recited by Fabio Dessi in a calm folk-garment.
But the story is not finished yet. Without a transition, Last Breath starts. The song is dealing with Hazel's demise at the end of the story. El-ahrairah is spoken also by Fabio Dessi. The song may be a bit too tacky, but provides a felicitous completion of this two-parted eops. Unfortunately, the dialog between Hazel and El-ahrairah is mixed a bit faint. The end is similar to Bright Eyes from the forerunner, but the conclusion could have last a bit longer.
In the end, it can be said, that Trick or Treat delivered a worthy finish and an amazing re-narration of Watership Down. The Black Rabbit of Inlé, Kehaar, Efrafa, Woundwort. Rabbit's Hill is simply the best musical setting of Richard Adams' masterpiece.
01. Inlé (The Black Rabbit of Death)
02. Together Again
05. Never Say Goodbye
06. The Great Escape
07. They Must Die
08. Beware the Train
10. The Showdown
11. Last Breath
Never Say Goodbye
The Great Escape
They Must Die