I've written about the Italian symphonic metal band Rhapsody of Fire before in my blog. After the release of the last album in their epic fantasy saga (which I wrote about here) a couple years ago, they made the decision to split the band in two. Rhapsody of Fire would continue touring and (I presume) playing their classic material, while the band's former lead guitarist, Luca Turilli, would found a new band as a vehicle for his own composition work. This new band came to be known by the (very inventive and original) name Luca Turilli's Rhapsody...
Now Turilli has released several solo albums over the years under his own name (and one as Luca Turilli's Dreamquest, which featured him on keyboards rather than guitar). I don't really see why he couldn't have simply released more music as Luca Turilli, instead of going to such confusing arrangements. But here we are, and this is what we have.
A mere year after Rhapsody of Fire's From Chaos to Eternity, the first album from Luca Turilli's Rhapsody was released, titled Ascending to Infinity. And somehow it took me almost a year to get around to buying it, probably partly because of all this two band weirdness, but here I am at last...
Unlike Rhapsody of Fire's albums, which featured a continuing fantasy tale, Ascending to Infinity is a collection of individual songs touching on different mythological topics, from Atlantis to Excalibur to Michael and Lucifer... The album seems to be wreathed in allegory, though, and to be honest, I'm not really sure what many of the songs are actually supposed to be about. Frequent snippets in Latin and Italian don't help with understanding... But in any case, it's the sound that's important here.
And the sound is... Luca Turilli doing what he does best. The compositions and arrangements are almost ridiculously epic. 'Born to sound cinematic,' the booklet proudly proclaims. Indeed. The jazzy cover song Luna, though not as such bad in and of itself, seems kinda out of place and unnecessary on the album, but otherwise it is musically pretty impressive. Turilli plays both guitar and keyboards on this album, and does both masterfully.
There's a new vocalist, Alessandro Conti, to get accustomed to, of course. But stylistically the singing remains fairly similar to Fabio Lione's vocals for Rhapsody of Fire (and equally coloured by a heavy Italian accent, but I guess no one's perfect). The other musicians are all Rhapsody of Fire alumni (Dominique Leurquin and Patrice Guers on second guitar and bass respectively, and Alex Holzwarth on drums, though he would later leave to focus on playing with Rhapsody of Fire), so there's a lot of experience and talent here.
So yeah, I do quite enjoy this album. Musically it continues in the strong, epic tradition of both Rhapsody of Fire and Turilli's solo works. It does, however, leave me a little cold on the lyrical side, perhaps suffering from the lack of a cohesive story. It remains to be seen whether this two band format will work and continue in the future. Turilli does kinda have a habit of starting projects that never go beyond one album... And just after writing that, I see on Wikipedia that a second album has apparently been announced for 2014. Welp, we'll see. After Ascending to Infinity I'll certainly be looking forward to it.