Home > Music > Rainbow – Rising (1976)

Rainbow – Rising (1976)

folderRising is a classic of early heavy metal… well, half of it is, at least. A lot of it is either too poppy or progressive rock oriented to really qualify as such, which arguably puts it in good company *cough* with such bands as Queen. Rainbow, though, arguably has more ‘metal’ cred, being the brainchild of Deep Purple alumnus Ritchie Blackmore, further boosting the career of Ronnie James Dio, and so forth. It also satisfies my nerd cred with lots of keyboard parts and was probably especially influential on what would eventually become power metal some years after its release.

Every metal dilettante will slowly, loudly explain to you that many of the ’70s “metal” bands did little to separate themselves from their blues/rock origins; they are certainly correct about Rising. Listeners will note some of the lengthy songs, but they’ll also hear that the band relies heavily on instrumental jamming and solos to fill out their song lengths. The songs that don’t are basically ’70s rock, which you may or may not have much of an appetite for. At times, it’s more keyboard and vox driven than guitar driven, most likely since Blackmore handles all guitar duties here. Compare to other metal albums that came out in 1976 (mostly Sad Wings of Destiny by Judas Priest, which interestingly is also a heavily prog-inflected album), and someone’s probably going to end up questioning Rainbow’s metal credentials.

What ends up happening is that Rainbow is most “metal” when in their progressive rock moments. Even this isn’t too unheard of, although generally it’s more attributable to ‘heavy’ musicians exploring elaboration and instrumentation than anything else. The two epics (“Stargazer” and “A Light In The Black”) are shoved to B-sides, but besides their jam-induced lengthiness, they also feature Dio’s most intense vocal performance on the album and similarly enhanced guitarwork from Blackmore.  “A Light In The Black”, in addition, is very fast by the standards of the time and genre, and its instrumental interlocking is reminiscent in style of what even more technically skilled bands would do later. The lesson here is that even in the mid-70s, metal had already diverged into, if not necessarily full-fledged substyles, meaningfully different approaches; Rising still lacks the lurching heaviness of, for instance, Black Sabbath, but its high fantasy themes and emphasis on showy, virtuoso performances still found their way into the nascent genres.

The lack of full commitment, though, does mean you’ll have to accept a certain amount of old style pop rock to fully experience the album.

Highlights: “Tarot Woman”, “Starstruck”, “Stargazer”


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