Rhapsody are a progressive speed metal band, although the band call themselves "Italian, Epic, Hollywood Metal." The band was formed in Trieste, Italy in 1993 under the name Thundercross. The band members are: founder Luca Turillib (guitars), Fabio Lione (vocals), Alessandro Lotta (bass), Alex Staropoli (keys) and Alex Holzwarth (drums). Guitarist/songwriter Luca Turilli is also in Luca Turilli. Vocalist Fabio Lione also sang for Vision Divine with members of Labyrinth.
This band has split and splintered several times with their being two version of Rhapsody recording, Rhapsody of Fire and Luca Turilli's Rhapsody. I refuse to break them up and have three pages for this band, so I have one with all versions here.
Rhapsody - Legendary Tales (SPV) 1997
1. "Ira Tenax"
I'm not sure why, but after collecting five other Rhapsody disc, I was still expecting this first album to be a bit more simplistic and straighforward. Well, that simply was not true. "Legendary Tales" is every bit as complex as their later recordings. While there is plenty of speedy riffs and double bass, there is an equal amount of progressive song structures, symphonic elements, and celtic influences as well. Can't really say, however, that if you've heard one, you've heard them all. Each album really has it's own personality, although Rhapsody really have developed a unique sound that is matched by few other bands.
Rhapsody-Emerald Sword (SPV)1998
1. "Emerald Sword"
Pre-release, teaser CDsingle for "Symphony of Enchanted Lands." "Emerald Sword" is from that album. "Where Dragons Fly" is an excellent speed metal track that is exclusive to this EP. "Land of Immortals" is a re-recorded version of a track from the bands debut, "Symphony of Enchanted Lands." Musically this band is in league with few others, save for Blind Guardian.
Rhapsody - Symphony of Enchanted Lands (Lucretia) 1998
Absolutely phenomenal. Progressive metal at it's finest! I picked this up in a trade on the advice of the trader. He was right, I liked it.
Rhapsody - Holy Thunderforce (SPV) 2000
1. "Holy Thunderforce"
"Dargor, Shadowlord of the Black Mountain" also appears on the full length disc "Dawn of Victory" but in a much shorter state. While the song is 8:28 on this EP, the album version is almost half as long a 4:48. All three songs from this EP appear on other Rhapsody releases, I just don't happen to have them yet.
Rhapsody - Dawn of Victory (Limb/SPV) 2000
1. "Lux Triumphans"
As I sat listening to "Dawn of Victory" for the first time, I was reading through the extensive liner notes in the 32-page full color booklet and couldn't help but laugh at the band's statements about this new cd. Co-founder and keyboardist Alex Starpoli described the sound as "more direct, with a tougher guitar sound and a very aggressive, basic attitude." What makes this statement so funny is that these guys don't know the definition of the word "basic." As with past Rhapsody releases "Dawn of Victory" is complex, technical and anything but basic. Perhaps the guitars do have a 'tougher' sound, but the orchestral elements and keyboards are still as much a part of the sound as they ever were. This is what makes Rhapsody, well, Rhapsody. Few sound like them, if any. As such, in order to truly enjoy this cd, you must have plenty of time to listen from beginning to end and be able to divert most of your attention towards the music. Background music Rhapsody are not. There are no anthem like, sing along choruses, nor is this your typical heavy metal experience. While there are some nice vocal melodies and plenty of progressive metal fury, much of the music on this disc is more impressive for it's arrangements and complexity rather than for it's hooks. Imagine mixing together the soundtrack to some intense sci-fi movie with the complex heavy metal of Gamma Ray or Helloween, then throw in a touch of Celtic and folk music, the lead guitar playing of Yngwie Malmsteen and some layered Queen-like vocals. This might give you an idea of the sound contained here-in. Lyrically the band continues their story of dungeons, dragons, trolls, knights, swords, and holy battles of good vs. evil with the emerald sword still leading the way. Can't say that I find the story as interesting as the music itself, but it is still an integral part of the Rhapsody experience. By the end of the cd, I almost feel tired and expect to hear clapping and shouts of 'bravo, bravo' and see roses being thrown towards the stage.
Rhapsody - Rain of A Thousand Flames (SPV) 2001
1. "Rain of a Thousand
This is suppose to be "just an EP," but at 42 minutes of length, I have seen full length albums that are shorter. Anyhow, this disc, unlike past EPs from Rhapsody, contains all new material that is all suppose to be exclusive to this disc. Musically, once again, Rhapsody continue to explore and conquer realms of speed metal and symphonic, progressive metal that few other bands have dare to explore. They simply just blow me away. The sheer speed of some of the double bass work would send most black metal drummers into a coma. Rhapsody are definitely over the top, mixing in orchestral elements, opera vocals, layered/choir-like vocals, beautiful acoustic passages and neo-classical, theatrical based, fantasy, heavy metal. The arrangements are all very well done and the song writing still contains enough hooks to keep your attention without sacrificing complexity.
Must also add that the cover art for this disc is outstanding. The creatures on the cover art are quite amazing. Although it's hard to see on the small scan above, there is one creature that is about to get taken out by a fireball that is kinda cute. I feel bad that he is about to become part of the blood soaked ground.
Rhapsody - Power of the Dragonflame (SPV) 2002
"Power of the Dragonflame" is Rhapsody's fourth full length disc and sees the band getting even deeper into the symphonic elements, adding even more layers of vocals and keyboards, to their heavy metal assault. Fans of progressive metal that think Dream Theater are the bomb of technical songwriting and stellar musicianship have probably not yet heard Rhapsody. Tracks like "When Demons Awake," "Agony is My Name" and "Steelgods of the Last Apocalypse" are some of the fastest and heaviest the band has written yet. However, these tracks are also more complex and technical than anything the band has written to this point, which is actually saying a lot since their last albums were pillars of technical musicianship. The double bass work in these tracks are simply unbelievable and almost inhuman. The pure speed and aggression would put most black metal bands to shame. Even songs like "The Pride of the Tyrant" that manages to knock the speed down a half a notch would send most drummers screaming for the hill. The addition of harpsichord-like keyboards, multiple part harmonies, choir type vocals, female vocal parts, and astounding songwriting takes away from the sheer brutality and speed of the songs and adds a flare of melody and charisma that black metal bands only dream of. Other tracks like the beautiful piano "Lamento Eroico" bring a more somber emotion. Even this track, however, is filled with brilliant sounds like the chilling flute and keyboard break in the middle of the song. As with the bands past albums, there is a storyline weaved throughout, although the story line doesn't interest me as much as the music itself. According to the extensive liner notes, the story is part four in the "Emeral Swords saga" and one which brings the story to an end. The album ends with a fitting multiple part, epic song titled Gargoyles, Angels of Darkness." This track alone makes the album worth the price of admission.
1. Quantum X (2:26)
2. Ascending to Infinity (6:10)
3. Dante's Inferno (4:56)
4. Excalibur (8:06)
5. Tormento e Passione (4:50)
6. Dark Fate of Atlantis (6:30)
7. Luna (4:18)
8. Clash of the Titans (4:15)
9. Of Michael the Archangel and Lucifer's Fall (16:02)
As the story goes, Luca Turilli left Rhapsody of Fire in 2011 to for Luca Turilli's Rhapsody. Why? Who knows. Who cares! Fact is there are now two Italian "power metal" bands recording under the name Rhaspody.
If you were to go by the logo, cover art and album titled. However, when dealing with the actual music, the level of familiarity with the first two Luca Turilli albums ("King Of The Nordic Twilight" and "Prophet Of The Last Eclipse") is far greater than any of Rhapsody Of Fire's back catalog. Turilli takes the band further into what many have jokingly called "flower metal", as there is little here that is actually heavy metal. Rather the music herein relies heavily on symphonic orchestral elements, some more folksy moments and what use to be known as neo-classic metal. Even Yngwie Malmsteen would be forced to smile and nod to some of the guitar work buried in this wall of musical menagerie. There's a folksy nod at the beginning of "Excalibur" that ebbs and flows into a symphonic anthem. As well there is a bit of an Eastern flavor to"Dark Fate Of Atantis". There is also a piano-based ballad titled "Luna" that is apparently a Alessandro Safin cover. Honestly, had I not looked that up I never would have know it was a cover, though the song does stand apart from the rest of the album. It's almost like a musical intermission from the fast-paced wall-of-sound that the rest of the album is built upon. While this song is playing you have time to run to the snack bar and grab a Pepsi and some popcorn before returning to the feature presentation.
The other element that sets this album apart from previous Rhapsody albums is layers and layer and layers of vocals. Vocalist Alessandro Conti has a fine voice that is mixed with tons of background vocals and accompanied female vocals. At times it's almost to the point of describing it as opera metal. Perhaps that can be then newest in a sea of heavy metal sub-genres.
"Ascending to Infinity" is definitely a high-powered and interesting musical menagerie. I cannot say it's something that most heavy metal fans would cling to, but those who enjoy the dungeons and dragons European-style power metal will find this to be a top-notch release.