Review by Rick Ossian
A new type of Dolby, you say? Well, isn’t technology something? We are getting our first dose/taste/earful of this new tech when we hear the latest from Italy‘s Luca Turilli and his band of merry men. Rhapsody have been around for quite some time now (circa 1996). They have been doing a 20th Anniversary Farewell Reunion Tour this year, and other than them touting themselves as The Creators of Cinematic Metal, I really knew very little about the band. I do know this; there are a few other members, namely Dominiuqe Leurquin on guitars, Patrice Guers on bass, Alex Landenberg on drums and the incomparably mighty Alessandro Conti on vocals.
Upon first listen to this live opus, I naturally encountered some questions: 1) It sounds like there is a choir and orchestra. Is there? or 2)Are all those extra sounds coming from keyboards? You know the type of queries I would have. But, read as I might, I was coming up with no answers. So, I decided to watch a video!
Still, no real clues revealed themselves to me. Whilst listening to the material, I did hear Alessandro mention a female singer named Miss Emily something, and he also mentions a choir, but nothing about an orchestra. The strings, particularly the violins, didn’t sound as if they were really keyboard sounds or guitar sounds, so I decided to dig a little deeper! The subsequent videos I watched provided only brief glimpses of anything that might be helpful. They mainly consisted of promotional/commercial montages of images designed to entice potential buyers, I fear. We will assume, therefore, that for now we are dealing with guitar and/or keyboard/synthesizer sounds. Argh!
There is a lot of material here. Twenty-seven tracks in all, and, as one might imagine, some rather lengthy ones. Still, all in all, it is very nice package. Everything is very victorious and triumphant, of course. One must imagine the flights of fancy likely to be engaged in if you combined, say, Yngwie or Uli Jon Roth with Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Perhaps an orchestrated version of Manowar. This is battle metal at its best, in all its symphonic, cinematic glory. There are many moments of bombast, pomp and circumstance, and of course musical jams. Excalibur, Warrior of Ice and Dark Fate of Atlantis are the longest ones, at seven-and-a-half, six-plus and nine minutes plus respectively. They are much like the shorter numbers, but there are many moments of Alessandro‘s banter with the crowd, introducing members of the band and the like.
Also included in the mix are shorter numbers and the inevitable tracks for member solos (the drum solo and the bass solo). These particular solos are notable for two things, basically; 1) They aren’t technically solos; each are supported by other instruments and mumbling from the choir, etc. and 2)both are showcases of the musician’s virtuosity. These boys have some serious skills! The shorter numbers are oftentimes set-ups or intros to the next big number ( Nova Genesis, Aenigma, The Astral Convergence, Quantum X, and of course The Finale). These tracks actually act as if they are tunes of their own, of course. All of the big production, all of the huge vocal presence, all of the guitar widdling, make just as much of a spectacle of themselves as they normally would in the medium-length numbers.
Which brings us to the meat and potatoes of this opus. The crowd-pleasers. Of course, there is Prometheus. It wouldn’t be a Prometheus package without the title track. Cigno Nero (Reloaded) is also a big fave. Rosenkreuz ( The Rose and the Cross), Land of Immortals, War of the Universe, Of Michael the Archangel and Lucifer’s Fall (Parts 1 & 2 are both included), The Ancient Forest of Elves, Son of Pain, Knightrider of Doom, Warrior’s Pride, Tormento E Passione, The Pride of the Tyrant, Demonheart, Dawn of Victory, Ascending to Infinity (wow another lengthy one at 6:42), and the ever-popular encore, Emerald Sword, are all presented and get to take their turn(s) wowing the audience.
It’s not that these tracks are all the same. Well, they all SOUND the same, but that’s not Rhapsody‘s fault. It’s not even Luca Turilli‘s fault. They are pigeonholed in a particular genre, and they don’t for a second take that for granted. They do not, for a moment, intend to fail. In the end, of course, they deliver for us. Note for note, crescendo after crescendo, we are treated to an audio-visual spectacle. Big vocals, big musical moments, HUGE arrangements, and a choir to boot – oh, and I suspect they are hiding an orchestra in the wings!