Released By: Nuclear Blast Records
Release Date: July 5th, 2019
Genre: Symphonic Power Metal
Fabio Lione – Vocals
Luca Turilli – Guitars, Keyboards, Piano
Dominique Leurquin – Guitars
Patrice Guers – Bass
Alex Holzwarth – Drums
1. Phoenix Rising
2. D.N.A. (Demon and Angel)
3. Zero Gravity
4. Fast Radio Burst
5. Decoding the Multiverse
8. Amata Immortale
9. I Am
10. Arcanum (Da Vinci’s Enigma)
Rhapsody has been around in one form or another since the early 90’s, and at this point, trying to keep track of all their different incarnations could become quite the headache. Needless to say, the band themselves have gone through quite a few changes over the years, while things were only made more complicated in 2012 when former guitarist/keyboardist/songwriter Luca Turilli formed his own version of the band, called Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody. Well, things only became even more complicated in 2018, with the birth of yet another new version, called Turilli/Lione Rhapsody. Yes, indeed, the biggest selling point for this particular version is the reunion between Luca and longtime Rhapsody (of Fire) vocalist Fabio Lione, who parted ways with RoF in 2016. The rest of the lineup consists of other former members of the band, including live guitarist Dominique Leurquin, bassist Patrice Guers and longtime drummer Alex Holzwarth. With such a stacked lineup, expectations were obviously sky high for the latest take on Rhapsody, and now that their debut Zero Gravity (Rebirth and Evolution) is here, it certainly lives up to expectations, while in some ways being quite different from what one may expect.
With his previous Rhapsody project, Luca Turilli already moved in a much different direction from the classic Rhapsody sound, going with a much more keyboard focused, heavily orchestrated sound, filled with progressive elements and complex arrangements, and while the old power metal sound was still fully intact, it was toned down a bit in speed and intensity, for the most part. Much of that is true of Zero Gravity, with the keyboards and orchestras certainly dominating most of the tracks, and the use of choir vocals is extremely prominent, once again, especially on the interlude track “Origins” and the ballad “Amata Immortale”, but they can be found throughout the entire album, and are used very effectively, as always. Keys are also very prominent, and come in various forms, from a more modern, almost trance infused electronic style on some tracks, to some classical piano at times, as well as more atmospheric keys. Guitars are obviously still there, as well, with some pretty solid rhythm guitar work throughout, as well as some excellent melodic solos, but listeners definitely shouldn’t expect a ton of neoclassical shredding, or a ton of really heavy power metal riffs, in general, as this is very much an epic, extremely melodic symphonic metal album, with the power metal elements being somewhat dialed back, even compared to Turilli’s previous two albums.
Stylistically, the songs are a bit tricky to describe, as they generally aren’t as ambitious or complex as most of Ascending To Infinity or Prometheus, but they also aren’t nearly as speedy or energetic as classic Rhapsody. Instead, this is actually a very fun album, with a ton of huge, catchy choruses, and epic orchestral/choral arrangements, but the tempos are generally fairly restrained compared to normal, with most of the tracks being fairy upbeat, without ever really going full throttle. It almost feels like a deliberate decision not to ever go that fast, as even during the various sections where tracks do speed up, they never get past a certain speed, which would be considered much slower than max speed on most previous Rhapsody releases. Not that this is a problem, though, as the songwriting is generally amazing, as always, with the choruses and symphonic arrangements being especially impressive, but anyone expecting a more traditional power metal album may be disappointed. Performances are obviously top notch, with Luca doing some amazing work, as always, and of course Fabio sounds in top form, with his powerful, soaring vocals being as strong as ever, while his softer, dramatic vocals are also impressive, and he gets to showcase some stunning operatic vocals on a couple tracks, which are amazing to listen to! Production is also fantastic, and sounds more powerful and dynamic compared to Prometheus, which I always found to be a bit weak sounding, as the keys and symphonic arrangements sound amazing, without having to sacrifice any of the guitar sound, so that’s one area where I can say this album is a big improvement over the two Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody releases.
No matter how good an album sounds, though, it doesn’t matter if the songs are bad, but thankfully, Zero Gravity largely delivers with excellent songwriting, as well. Kicking things off is lead single “Phoenix Rising”, which has a brief intro, with some fairly non distracting narration, before the main melody kicks in and it’s an epic use of keyboards right from the start, as well as some nice rhythm guitar work. The track moves along at a nice pace, with fairly slow, quiet verses, before setting up an amazing, epic chorus with massive vocal melodies and an amazing performance from Fabio, as well as the choirs. The second half of the track has a very beautiful guitar/keyboard solo, and overall, it’s an excellent opener, as well as one of the best tracks on the album. Next is second single “D.N.A. (Demon and Angel”), a track dominated by choirs and keyboards. It kicks off with a tease at its chorus from the choirs, and quickly moves on to some very electronic, trance style keyboard melodies, which stick around throughout the whole song, while the verses are fun, but slightly repetitive, with how it constantly alternates between Fabio, the choirs and Amaranthe vocalist Elize Ryd, who makes a guest appearance on the track. The chorus is extremely catchy and addictive, and is easily the highlight of the track, as well as being one of Luca’s catchiest, most playful choruses to date. The song in general has more of an accessible feel to it than normal, while still being extremely epic, especially with the choral section in the second half.
The first non single on the album is the title track, and it’s another stunner of a track, opening with some beautiful female operatic vocals and light, atmospheric keyboard backdrops, which pick up intensity when Fabio makes his entrance, with some very theatrical vocals during the verses. The track quickly speeds up a little while before the chorus, and the chorus is very upbeat, and extremely epic, with some of the best vocal melodies on the album, as well as some excellent guitar work. The track overall is brilliant, alternating between soft and heavy passages, as well as having a really nice folk infused middle section, and of course a great guitar solo. The only track that has yet to fully win me over is “Fast Radio Burst”, which in contrast to its name, is actually one of the slowest paced tracks on the album, though that isn’t actually my problem with the song. It opens up with some weird sound effects and a bit of narration, before settling into a nice rhythm, with some pretty good riffs, and it then turns into more of mid paced progressive metal track, with a nice groove to it. The verses are quite good, and the buildup to the chorus is great, but the chorus itself is plagued by some rather irritating harsh vocals (which are made more puzzling by the fact that they only appear on this track and feel hopelessly out of place) as well as a pretty weak ending. The track effectively feels like a whole lot of build up, with no payoff, aside from the usual great instrumental section in the second half, and so it ends up being a bit of a disappointment
Things quickly pick up, once again, with “Decoding the Multiverse”, a very beautiful, epic track, which starts off with some nice piano work, before speeding up and turning into one of the heavier, more guitar driven tracks on the album, while still having some very nice piano work throughout. It alternates between soft, slow verses, and a more upbeat, fun chorus, and it has the perhaps the speediest passage on the album during an excellent guitar/keyboard solo in the second half. It’s a very fun track, overall, and is definitely one of my favorites on the album. Following that is the short but sweet interlude “Origins”, which makes full use of some amazing choir vocals, and then comes “Multidimensiona;”, another excellent, mostly mid paced track. It has a nice rhythm to it, with some more very modern sounding keys, some pretty chunky riffs, and epic symphonic arrangements, as usual. It moves along at a fairly slow pace during the verses, before picking up for the chorus (a recurring theme for the album in general) and the chorus is again excellent, with huge vocal melodies, awesome keys, and very effective drumming. It’s a very epic, fun track, while having a slightly darker tone than most other songs on the album.
The lone ballad on the album is “Amata Immortale”, and it’s an excellent one, almost feeling like a full on opera, with some nice classical piano used throughout, to go along with Fabio singing in Italian and going full operatic style, along with some absolutely stunning accompanying choir vocals during the chorus, which is one of the highlights of the album. The track on the whole is absolutely stunning, though some metal fans will likely be bored by it. The longest track on the album is “I Am”, which clocks in at just over 7 minutes, and it’s also the most complex, most fully packed track on the album, with some excellent instrumental work, and a nice mix of soft, slower passages, and heavier, more upbeat passages, including more piano work, more epic keys, some saxophone, and a ton of epic symphonic arrangements, as always. It also has a guest appearance from DGM vocalist Mark Basile, who’s especially prominent during the second verse and chorus, and he gives a very powerful, emotional performance, which takes his parts of the song to new heights. The music becomes very theatrical at one point in the second half, giving off some Queen vibes, before going into a great instrumental section, and overall, the song is another stunner. Closing out the album is “Arcanum (Da Vinci’s Enigma”, which is also sung entirely in Italian, as far as I can tell. It starts out softly, with some beautiful keys and symphonic arrangements, before speeding up turning into another full scale, epic symphonic metal track, with slight power metal leanings. It’s another track which alternates nicely between some very some passages, and a very upbeat, extremely epic chorus, and it has some more outstanding choir vocals as well as some more operatic vocals from Fabio, and it’s definitely a fantastic way to close out the album!
There’s always going to be high expectations for anything Rhapsody related, and of course Luca Turilli and Fabio Lione both have a large following, and so expectations for this first offering from Turilli/Lione’s Rhapsody were sky high. Thankfully, the band has delivered an excellent debut, and while power metal fans may be a bit disappointed, anyone else should be very pleased, as it’s an amazing album that largely builds on the more epic, cinematic style Turilli has used on his previous couple of albums, while at times being a bit more accessible, and having some of his catchiest choruses ever. Fans of his epic symphonic arrangements and usage of choir vocals, as well as fans of Fabio Lione, should be especially pleased with this album, and fans of symphonic metal in general are highly recommended to check this out, while obviously fans of Rhapsody, in all its forms, will need to hear it, while power metal fans who aren’t overly into Rhapsody may want to take a pass. Overall, though, it’s an amazing album, and one I am very happy with, even if it doesn’t quite reach the heights of some of Luca Turilli’s all time best works.
Written by: Travis Green
My Global Mind – Staff Writer
Travis Green is a Canadian based writer for My Global Mind, with a particular passion for power metal, as well as an interest metal in all its forms.