Rhapsody // Ascending to Infinity
Rating: 4.5/5.0 — -0.5 for lack of insight
Label: Nuclear Blast [EU | US]
Websites: ltrhapsody.com | facebook.com/ltrhapsody
Release Dates: EU: 2012.06.22 | NA: 07.03.2012

Luca Turilli's Rhapsody - Ascending to InfinityThe last few years have been a non-stop rollercoaster since Rhapsody got out of the functional-psychopathic grip of Manowar‘s lawyers. Unlike Manowar, whose newest album is a shade of former greatness, Rhapsody [of Fire] produced two fantastic albums (and a great EP) since 2010′s triumphant return. After mediocre output while on Magic Circle Records, the band seemed to have found their inner maestros and projected them into the recording machines; producing fast, guitar-heavy, bombastic CDs with fantastic variety and wide array of amazing parts. While 2011′s From Chaos to Eternity was probably the weaker of the two albums, its effect seems to really have been introducing one too many (be-sun-glassesed) egos into the picture, which ultimately led to Luca Turilli leaving the band to strike out on his own. A thing that most of us thought was probably a great thing, but had minor worries about. Ascending to Infinity is the answer to those questions and it is mahvelous as the Queen would say.

First, let’s get the dirty work out of the way: Ascending to Infinity is a true Rhapsody record if ever there was one. Starting out with an orchestral theme and narration, filled with ball busting heavy metal tracks, supported by Alex Holzwarth’s mighty feet, laced with ridiculous neo-baroque guitar and keyboard solos and chalk full of melodies that dig under your skin. However, aside from Luca’s own performances, the most important performance on this record was that of new vocalist Alessandro Conti—of the unknown (for a reason) Trick or Treat—who‘s vocal performance is mighty, convincing and a perfect replacement for Fabio, while not imitating him remotely. His voice is smooth and clear when he’s doing his vocal gymnastics, but he does have enough vibrato to get that “operatic metal” thing across and his accent is just as cheesy as Fabio’s so that you never forget you’re listening to Rhapsody.

Luca Turilli's Rhapsody - 2012Luca Turilli wasn’t exactly breaking out of his comfort zone while writing this record: start with orchestras and narrations, fill out the middle with good songs, and finish with a gigantic epic of ridiculous proportions. Luca didn’t budge an inch from this formula and Ascending to Infinity is better for it. One of the reasons that Rhapsody has managed to avoid the problems of being “stuck” in a specific stylistic sound is because the music is naturally entertaining enough that you always keep coming back. Sure, you know the tropes: the emphatic enunciation of certain notes with orchestral blasts; the “Village of the Dwarves” flute shows up on “Excalibur”, despite having a new “more modern” look and feel; the Latin choirs singing latinus soundingus stuffus in the background. And each time these hit home with a kind of ecstatic accuracy that leaves this Angry Metal Nerd in a reverie.

There is, however, one drawback on this record and I’ve finally decided to dock Luca points. I previously commented that I didn’t think that getting better voice acting would make Rhapsody cheesier, but they did. But Ascending to Infinity is marred by the use of “movie guy voice,” to get across the message that the band is “cinematic metal” and it makes me long for the halcyon days of Christopher Lee. I can only assume that the reason the guys in the band think this sounds good is because they’re not native English speakers. Not only are things that Movie Guy narrates ridiculously cheesy on a level that I never even thought Rhapsody could get to, but they’re poorly delivered. The lines are halting and weird, and the script sounds like it was written by an ESL Italian guy who is really good at guitar but probably never could get a job as a writer for anyone… Oh right. In any case, it is unbearable and I am forced to skip it every time. It’s embarrassing and the fact that no one said “Hey, Luca: this sounds like shit and you should change it,” should probably get someone at Nuclear Blast fired. What’s the point of being a label that bullies bands into changing their sound if it can’t be used for good?

Other than that, though, Ascending to Infinity continues a string of major Rhapsody-flavored successes. “Dante’s Inferno” and “Tormento e Passione” are two of the best Rhapsody songs ever written and the only stumble on the record is the awkward “Luna,” which still has a fantastic chorus, despite the female vocal part that shows up throughout is weak and poorly delivered. This record is a must purchase record for all fans of bombastic metal and I’m very happy that Luca Turilli has continued his dominant streak. Now it’s Rhapsody of Fire‘s turn to put out a record. I have trouble imagining that it will be anywhere near this in quality. It’s possible that despite keeping Lione and picking up a good guitar player with little writing chops himself, Staropoli lost out big time in this split. No matter, though, having a successful Rhapsody of Fire is to all of our benefits. Twice the Rhapsody ALL THE TIME! Now that’s music to my ears.

Get it? Rhapsody? Music to my ears? You see what I did there?

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  • Kalsten

    Until the last paragraph I wasn’t sure if you liked the album or not xD  I will take a look when I can, although the bit I heard, with the new singer, I didn’t like so much.

    • http://www.facebook.com/mateusz.jugowiec Mateusz Jugowiec

       Well, I am into detective stories so I deduced if he liked the album faster than you. The rating helped a bit.

    • http://www.angrymetalguy.com Angry Metal Guy

      Wha? I said that it was marvelous in the first paragraph!

      • Kalsten

        But it’s lik a sandwich. You start saying a good thing on the beginning, then the middle paragraphs show mostly bad things, and then you finish saying that this is a great album. And a 4.5, for a review where you point so many good things, make it difficult to undertand, in my case. But I am very special, you know? :)

        • http://www.angrymetalguy.com Angry Metal Guy

          I said only one bad thing. Saying that he didn’t do anything new was no insult. :p

    • http://www.facebook.com/potticus Emily Potter

       I didn’t like the preview they released much either.  AMG, is the preview a fair reflection of what’s on offer here?

      • http://www.angrymetalguy.com Angry Metal Guy

        Um. I didn’t see the preview. Unless you don’t like the new vocalist you should love this record.

  • http://twitter.com/OldLeafNick Nick Cane

    Can you explain the relationship between RoF and plain old Rhapsody?  Same band?  Different?  Huh?  Italians?

    • http://Angrymetalguy.com Steel Druhm

      AMG can explain fully… but I bet he can’t do it without bashing Manowar.

    • randomtime

      Luca Turilli left Rhapsody to start Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody. All the other Rhapsody of Fire members are still in Rhapsody of Fire. Luca’s band is completely new (apart from the drummer on this album, who is Rhapsody of Fire’s drummer – he can’t play in both bands live, so he’s been replaced with a new drummer).

      From statements from the bands, it seems like this was a friendly split where they both decided to keep the name because people knew the name.

      • http://twitter.com/OldLeafNick Nick Cane

        TY man.  I sure like RoF, so this’ll have to do.

  • HohenheimOL

    Oh god, they’ve started doing those really bad spoken word narrations again? Listening through Symphony of Enchanted Lands and Power of the Dragonflame again, that’s the one thing on those albums which kills my power metal boner every time…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stefano-Kevin-Prince-Vitali/100001520051937 Stefano Kevin Prince Vitali

    Luca Turilli belongs to a different plane of existence. One where English simply does not exist… Instead, it’s bursting with elves, dwarves & dolphins, just to make up

    Seriously, I love my country, but we have serious issues with English language. Luca Turilli is bad even for Italian standards.

    Check out Nanowar (Of Steel), a parody band whose only purpose is to poke fun at Luca Turilli (and Manowar, of course). They deliver epic lines like this: “Luca Turilli is mad, Luca Turilli is bad, but we don’t want with singing this to make Turilli sad”. ironically, this sentence doesn’t make sense. on purpose.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/UO5CV4SIGSAK7X4VHEIQHI4UKI Piet

    You dont like Luna so much? That was the best sounding track for me on the preview… Need to check out the full album!

  • Juular

    I was never a fan of the narration on their albums, but Christopher Lee — while not entirely necessary — sounded pretty cool on Frozen Lake of Angels Tears of Glory, or whatever that album was called.

    You’re probably one of the few people who were happy that they band’s split. Trying to keep track of their happenings has caused me to have many headaches ever since it happened.

    Though, I gotta say I’m pretty happen with Fabio being out of the picture, at least in this iteration of Rhapsody. He’s a great vocalist, but over the years I started to find his voice pretty abrasive. Ever see him perform as Roy Khan’s replacement in Kamelot? Absolutely terrible.

    ANYWHO! I really enjoyed the review. I’m gonna pick this up soon. Hope my opinion holds similar to yours.

    Also:

    “singing latinus soundingus stuffus in the background”

    Just brilliant.

    • http://www.angrymetalguy.com Angry Metal Guy

      Thanks! Yeah, Fabio is a bit problematic at times. 

  • http://www.metalvortex.net/ [HKK] Hell³

    I think you will be hearing from RealNetwork’s lawyers soon.

    I was a bit apprehensive about Luca Turulli going “solo”, since his record on side projects has been spotty at best, but I’m glad to read this positive review. Did RoF kept the relationship with good ole’ Saruman? I heard we was releasing his own second metal-ish album himself around this days, you guys have any info/input on that?

  • http://underratedreviews.wordpress.com/ Fuzius

    Cool review, this sounds promising. I heard the new vocalist on the trailer, and think Fabio is better. Still, I can’t wait to check the album out( and hope Luca doesn’t overdo it with the solos)

  • Fabrizio Cosentino

    Btw, Luna is a cover, Luca said that in an interview. And it has been placed as “filler”, since they couldn’t mix Fantasia Gotica (tha track that should have been there instead of Luna) intime before the deadline.

    • http://www.angrymetalguy.com Angry Metal Guy

      Ah! What’s going to happen with that track, then?

      • http://www.angrymetalguy.com Angry Metal Guy

        It will do.

  • Lord_Snow

    I haven’t heard this album yet, but it’s going to take a lot for it to knock Pathfinder off the “cheesy, non-native english speaking”  throne it currently presides on.

  • Thiago Oliveira

    I have to say that this is more of the same, Luca really sticks to his patterns. Nothing really remarks this album from the others, aside from Conti’s vocals, I find him really nice to listening. I’ll pass this one or at least till I get tired of Pathfinder, which is not anytime soon.

     3,0/5,0. Highlights: Excalibur, Dark Fate of Atlantis

    • http://www.angrymetalguy.com Angry Metal Guy

      Are you kidding? Who cares if it’s more of the same! It’s seriously entertaining! C’mon, man. Did Luca do your gf or something?

  • http://www.facebook.com/jasonlgreenberg Jason Lee Greenberg

    Great review!  I am really excited to hear the entire album.  This quote made me laugh hard: “What’s the point of being a label that bullies bands into changing their sound if it can’t be used for good?” At least the movie guy voice doesn’t have a lisp like the “Yesth, Mighty Warrior!  What you hear now are the thuffering voithes of all the heros that crothed these landth before you!”