Three years ago, Luca Turilli released – much to my immense surprise – the best album he’s been involved with since Rhapsody’s breathtaking ‘Symphony Of Enchanted Lands’. His spin-off of Rhapsody proved to bring the focus back to the orchestral side of the band, which Turilli understandably dubbed “cinematic Metal”. Let’s just call this symphonic Power Metal though, as there are enough ridiculous Metal subgenres already. Sophomore record ‘Prometheus: Symphonia Ignis Divinus’ is finally there and although it’s not quite the overwhelming experience ‘Ascending To Infinity’ was, it’s another quality symphonic Metal record on which the orchestral “backing” is quite upfront.
Less than ever, Turilli uses his band as a vehicle for his guitar qualities. If he wants to show off, it’s probably his compositional skills rather than his riffwork or sweeping guitar leads. Of course, the latter are still there, but the guitar often takes back seat to the orchestra, choir and piano. That’s where much of the album’s bombast comes from anyway. Also, there are a few experiments with electronic elements here. None too overpowering, but some of them are featured quite promintently in the progressive ‘Il Tempo Degli Dei’ and overture ‘Nova Genesis’.
What makes ‘Prometheus’ slightly less overwhelming than its predecessor is the fact that the songs are a little less urgent this time around. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any standout moments here though. Especially the latter half of the record features a few diamonds, like the massive epic ‘Of Michael The Archangel And Lucifer’s Fall Part II: Codex Nemesis’ that closes the record, the bombastic title track and the surprisingly catchy ‘Yggdrasil’. Closer to the beginning of the album, ‘Anahata’ builds from a very cinematic intro (think ‘The Never Ending Story’) towards an amazing orchestral “riff” that turns into a fantastic progressive Power Metal track. Truly impressive.
Drummer Alex Landenburg makes his first appearance with the band here and as could be expected based on his unbelievable work on Mekong Delta’s last two albums, he’s amazing. He doesn’t quite get the space to be as creative as he was with Delta, but his playing is fluent and tight. Alessandro Conti is once again a revelation: his powerful voice, enormous range and versatile approach blew me away when I heard ‘Ascending To Infinity’ for the first time and things haven’t changed here. In fact, the increased use of Italian lyrics seems to work in his favor, especially when he goes into full opera mode on ‘Notturno’.
Metal purists will undeniably cringe when they hear the guitars being pushed to the background by all these orchestras and choirs – presumably especially on the “cinematic version” of Riot’s ‘Thundersteel’ – but the fact is that this is a professional release with well-written songs and meticulous arrangements. The songwriting is slightly less consistent than it was on its predecessor, but this is again a bombastic, thrilling ride through several filmic landscapes. If you’re looking for that instead of another predictable Power Metal record: this one is for you.
Recommended tracks: ‘Anahata’, ‘Yggdrasil’, ‘Of Michael The Archangel And Lucifer’s Fall Part II: Codex Nemesis’, ‘Prometheus’