||LUCA TURILLI'S RHAPSODY
'Prometheus – Symphonia Ignis Divinus'
The tale of Italian symphonic Metal band Rhapsody, now in both their forms, is a long but enjoyable and engrossing story and founder lead guitarist Luca Turilli now amicably fronts his own version.
When Luca left Rhapsody (then Rhapsody Of Fire) in 2011, he formed his own parallel version and this is their second album. And if you like big, melodic, operatic power Metal with symphonic and filmscore leanings, this album is seriously good from the outset.
Formed in the early 90s by Turilli and keyboard player Alex Staropoli, they were originally known as Thundercross. Following the release of two demos, the band changed their name to Rhapsody to highlight their classical and poetic influences over the Malmsteen and Manowar roots.
With new vocalist Fabio Lione (ex Labyrinth) on board the band released their 1997 debut album, 'Legendary Tales', which kicked off the 'Emerald Sword' saga. This was soon followed by 1998s 'Symphony Of Enchanted Lands', which included the classic track 'Emerald Sword'. 2000s 'Dawn Of Victory' continued the theme and the music's Baroque touches were developing in a symphonic manner. 'Rain Of A Thousand Flames' and 2002s 'Power Of The Dragonflame' developed the musical themes and concluded the lyrical saga.
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'Symphony Of Enchanted Lands II: The Dark Secret' (preceded by the 'Dark Secret' EP) saw the start of a five album concept, the 'Dark Secret' saga, set in 'The Enchanted Lands' but not a sequel to.
These albums included 'Triumph Or Agony', 'The Frozen Tears Of Angels', 'The Cold Embrace Of Fear – A Dark Romantic Symphony' and 2011s 'From Chaos To Eternity'. They all featured narration from the legendary Christopher Lee and in keeping with the operatic melodic power Metal, embraced medieval ('Dark Secret') and a darker gothic Metal feel.
Layered vocals and keyboards, twin guitars, strings, choir, the kitchen sink, and epic (almost progressive) songs that ranged from five to ten (or even twenty) minutes, it's a series really worth searching out. And then there's the live album, 'Live In Canada 2005', one of the best power Metal live albums you will ever hear. Really.
By then the band had had to change their name to Rhapsody Of Fire due to trademark issues.
At the end of the concept, Luca and Alex decided to amicably go their separate ways, with Alex and Fabio continuing with Rhapsody Of Fire.
Which brings us to Luca Turilli's Rhapsody, who briefly featured Rhapsody Of Fire drummer Alex Holzwarth.
This is their second album, following 2012s 'Ascending To Infinity'. The band follow a similar symphonic power Metal to their previous band and Luca handles orchestral arrangements, although the band's first album (and subsequent live shows) were rather more shred oriented.
Alongside Luca are vocalist Alessandro Conti, guitarist Dominique Leurquin, bassist Patrice Guers and drummer Alex Landenburg.
Much more Filmscore than earlier material, the album opens with 'Nova Genesis', an atmospheric intro and choir chanting.
'Il Cigno Nero' has a piano intro before the machine-gun drums fire in and the bursts of choir into the Metal work well, the vocals powerful and with range. The guitar harmonies and shreds work well. 'Rosenkreuz' follows in similar fashion, the interjecting strings and choir add to a huge sound. The tale end of this song prove that heavy metal and classical music can mix, as smoothly as it is powerful and embracing.
'Anahata' opens with chords (both strings and guitar) that could easily open a big film soundtrack. The harmonies here remind of Star Trek before the darker feels come in. The sound is big, bright and often uplifting.
'Il Tempo Degli Dei' has a strong piano and the guitar sound slightly crunchier, and the choir melody matches the lead vocals.
'One Ring To Rule Them All' runs to seven minutes and nods back to the mid 00s and the Lord Of The Rings operatic feel (something the album doesn't do enough of), the operatic chanting more gothic; this feel is a real stand out on the album.
The operatic voice and gentle piano of 'Notturno' has a gothic TV Advert feel, a hint of Spanish to the guitar at one point adds a good feel. A thoughtful and spiritual moment in a period costume drama, the weather building on the moor, and this track wouldn’t be too out of place.
'Prometheus' and 'King Solomon' are both fine tracks, and the guitar work interplays well. Another standout is the guitar work on 'Yggdrasil', which takes on more of the classical lines.
'Of Michael The Archangel And Lucifers', running to eighteen minutes, returns to the sound of Rhapsody Of Fire around the time Luca was leaving. Not quite the same storytelling but it's a classic epic if ever there was one. From Metal to orchestra to shred with harmony and melody, it's all here.
Throughout the album the lyrics embrace science, metaphysics, supernatural, parallel dimensions, spiritual evolution, myths and legends. The vocals are strong, but will never match Fabio.
The band have moved away from RoF's sound in a much more filmscore/Hollywood Metal direction which may deter some fans. Even so, it's wonderful beginning to end.
It'll be tough to match 'Enchanted Lands II - The Dark Secret' again, but this album is embracing and captivating throughout.