Album Reviews

Rhapsody – Ascending to Infinity Review

Released By: Nuclear Blast

Release Date: June 22, 2012

Genre: Symphonic Power Metal

Links: http://www.ltrhapsody.com

 

Lineup:

Alessandro Conti/ Vocals

Luca Turilli/ Guitar and Keyboard

Dominique Leurquin/ Guitar

Patrice Guers/ Bass

Alex Holzwarth/ Drums

 

Tracklist:

1. Quantum X

2. Ascending To Infinity

3. Dante’s Inferno

4. Excalibur

5. Tormento E Passione

6. Dark Fate Of Atlantis

7. Luna

8. Clash Of The Titans

10. Of Michael The Archangel And Lucifer’s Fall

 

For the last couple of years I have been making an attempt at getting into Rhapsody, in any of their forms, and the results have consistently been mixed. In general, their later Rhapsody Of Fire days have not appealed much to me, as for ever memorable songs I’ve encountered, there has been at least one total misfire, and more than a few forgettable songs that simply do nothing for me. Their last effort, “From Chaos To Eternity” was the closest I came to being very impressed by the band since their “Legendary Tales”, their debut. But in the end a couple big misfires stilled much of my excitement, as again I felt the band had overreached their limits, and tried forcing a mood that just wasn’t happening.

So needless to say, when I heard the band was breaking into separate new groups, with keyboardist Alex Staropoli keeping vocalist Fabio Lione among other band mates, to form the new Rhapsody Of Fire, while the highly regarded guitarist created his new project, Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody. The weird thing is, outside of the epic title track, I never cared for Turili’s first solo album (the only one I ever listened to), so between that and the fact that I had only heard one Rhapsody related album that impressed me (and it was released well over a decade and a half ago), my expectations weren’t exactly high. Then I heard the glorious single “Dark Fate Of Atlantis”, and all of a sudden my anticipation skyrocketed, as the song was everything I like about the Rhapsody Of Fire albums, with none of what I didn’t like. Still, one song does not make an album, and so I continued to doubt what was coming, until the instant I started “Ascending To Infinity” up for the first time.

And then it hit me like a merciless thunderstorm. Right from the surprisingly epic intro track, that could have come straight from both a movie intro or the beginning of an opera (aside from maybe the hilariously goofy voice over), I could tell something big was about to happen. Then the title track started, and it instantly blew me away. While Turilli’s signature guitar sound and the general overall Rhapsody Of Fire style is present, it’s clear this album is going for something much bigger, with certainly a more cinematic flair, and far more choirs and far more of an orchestral presence than you’d find even on your typical symphonic metal album. There are even sections in most of the songs that could have come straight from an opera, where the choir vocals completely taking over, while still blending in seamlessly with the rest of the music. Indeed, some of the arrangements on this album are so incredibly complex, it can take upwards of five listens to make sense of everything.

Getting back to the title track, it introduces the band’s singer Alessandro Conti, who at times sounds somewhat like the legendary Michael Kiske, but with a slightly softer tone. He sounds particularly impressive on the chorus of the aforementioned title track, as he stretches for the big, epic high notes, and sounds absolutely fantastic, often times singing along with all the choirs. I’d say overall this album is by far the most symphonic, most operatic and most orchestral Rhapsody related album I’ve heard, but Luca Turilli still gives himself plenty of room to shine, and shine he does, with some of the most impressive solos I’ve heard on a metal album in a long time. The important thing is, these sections never outlast their welcome, and aren’t on every song, so you won’t get tired of them.

There is a lot of variety to the songwriting, with songs like the title track and “Dark Fate Of Atlantis” being great examples of the more modern Rhapsody Of Fire sounds executed right, and “Clash Of The Titans” being a very pleasant reminder of what the band used to sound like. Then there’s something like “Dante’s Inferno”, where the entire chorus is sung in Italian, by choirs! It’s song like this which show perhaps my favourite thing about the album, and that is how effectively the operatic parts are used, as whether they’re directly connected to the heavier parts or on their own, they always blend in perfectly with the rest of the sound, and I’d go far as to say that with how epic the orchestra sounds, and how amazing the choirs are, I’ve never heard a metal album that uses these albums better than this one.

This is especially true on the grand finale, “Of Michael The Archangel And Lucifer’s Fall”, a 16 minute epic that never lets up, instantly creating a dark atmosphere through both the use of the returning voice overs from the first track (which work much better this time), and the overall mood of the song. But, as with many songs on the album, the chorus is the highlight, and once again it’s the choirs that steal the show, though the entire song is simply spectacular, and Conti gets his own semi-chorus, which is also amazing.

The biggest risk Turilli took with this album was definitely decision to include “Luna”, which is apparently a cover song. I can see why it would turn many people off, as it is a ballad with a very strange feel to it at times, with one repeating female vocal line in English, and then the rest of the being done by an Italian opera singer. In most cases this would seem out of place, but for an album that is already just as much about being a cinematic experience as it is about being a metal album, it actually fits, in a weird sort of way. Plus, I have to say the lead singer on the song does an incredible job. In all honesty, since I’m a fan of this kind of sound anyway, it ended being one of my very favourites on the album.

In the end, I think Luca Turilli has ascended to infinity indeed, creating both my favorite album to ever involve the name Rhapsody, and by far my favorite album of the year. Fans of more pure power metal may struggle with some parts (though there is still plenty of speed), but for me, a fan of both symphonic power metal, and opera, this album is the biggest musical surprise I’ve had in a long time, and already has a very special place in my heart. Which is why I had no difficulty giving it the rating I did.

 

Written by Travis

Ratings    Travis    10/10

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