Album of the Week 29-2012: Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody – Ascending To Infinity

One of the pleasures I’ve always failed to see the supposed guilt in was Rhapsody. Okay, their music is over the top in terms of bombast, there’s a certain cheesiness to the lyrical nature of the band and Fabio Lione’s thick Italian accent may throw some people off, but the power of the band’s music to me is in the heavy orchestration. That’s why I kind of lost track of them when they decided to be more Metal (think ‘Power Of The Dragonflame’). Now that Rhapsody has split into a Luca Turilli-lead camp and a Alex Staropoli/Fabio Lione-fronted side, my fear was that Turilli’s Rhapsody would be too Metal- and guitar oriented. ‘Ascending Into Infinity’ prove me wrong: it’s the Rhapsody-album answering most to the band’s “cinematic Metal” ideal since the masterpiece that was ‘Symphony Of Enchanted Lands’.

Turilli obviously thought his compositional skills were more important to exhibit than his guitar skills. None of the songs are as riff based as I thought they would be and even when the riffs are the focal point – as is the case with epic closing track ‘Of Michael The Archangel And Lucifer’s Fall’ – they aren’t mixed in as the prominent feature that needs the attention. Never is any instrument overpowering the importance of the actual composition it is a part of. Not even when Turilli gets to his trusted sweeping solos.

So what to expect from these compositions? Well, I can honestly say that while the basis is still the heavily symphonic Power Metal that the Italians are known for, this is probably the first album to harken back to the more progressive sound of the band’s first two albums. More proggy songs like ‘Excalibur’ and ‘Dante’s Inferno’ immediately bring to mind stuff like ‘Rage Of The Winter’. Also, the purely operatic stuff is represented in the goosebumps inducing ‘Tormento E Passione’ and first video release of the album ‘Dark Fate Of Atlantis’ and the title track of the album are bombastic delicacies to any Rhapsody fan. In fact, the only song that doesn’t quite fit is the Alessandro Safina cover ‘Luna’. It’s a well executed song, but its strong Italian Pop vibe clashes with the rest of the record.

And then I haven’t even mentioned the true revelation of this album. Because I had never heard of him, but damn, that Alessandro Conti is an amazing singer! Somewhat similar in terms of style to Fabio Lione, there’s a hint of familiarity straight away. However, Conti has a personality of his own. His style is a bit more “fluent” than Lione’s and more pleasant to listen to for the untrained ear. His versatility is impressive, from the almost whispered vocals in the verses of ‘Dante’s Inferno’ to the full on Power Metal singing of ‘Dark Fate Of Atlantis’ and the opera of ‘Tormento E Passione’… I’ve asked this after the sudden emergence of the brilliant Michele Luppi with Vision Divine about a decade ago: Italy, where are you hiding all these singers?

Initially, I wasn’t sure what to think of Rhapsody being divided in two, but if that means we’re getting twice as many great albums and live shows, you won’t hear me complain! Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody set the bar quite high, but that’s nothing more than commendable. ‘Ascending Into Infinity’ is a downright must for fans of Rhapsody and fans of orchestral Metal in general. And I’m just glad that Alessandro Conti is put on the world map of Metal, what a set of pipes! “Born to sound cinematic”, the booklet states. I hope they will grow up that way as well!

Recommended tracks: ‘Tormento E Passione’, ‘Dante’s Inferno’, ‘Dark Fate Of Atlantis’

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