Here’s a fun fact for you stat geeks: the average score gaily awarded to full Rhapsody releases by the resident Turilli fangirl (our great leader himself) is 4.83/5.0. Check ’em here. Clearly a much more objective party needed to intervene to prevent further such madness, offering a view impervious to Turilli’s rugged Italian charms. Unlike his former bandmates, Turilli escaped the division of his band relatively unscathed, Nuclear Blast record deal in hand and Pluto-sized bollocks between his legs. The debut under his new moniker is probably my favorite Rhapsody release, and he now follows it up with the overly verbose Prometheus, Symphonia Ignis Divinus. I must foreground this review by acknowledging that this is basically a pointless exercise. This is to all intents and purposes Ascending to Infinity Part II, replete with all the symphonic trimmings you loved or hated (but probably loved) before. If you want to hear this thrice more in greater detail, read on.
Everything that was there last time reappears once again. The bombastic orchestrations awash with sobbing strings, grandiose horns, backing choirs and chants. The twin guitars effectively harmonize with each other and typically violins in the backing orchestras, offering neo-classical noodling pioneered by Yngwie Malmsteen. Alessandro Conti’s smooth vocals are paired off against the unnamed operatic prima donna, gelling brilliantly in the vocal duels, an articulate argument to narrate Turilli’s splendid tales. Songs where all these elements pull together are as majestic as you’ve come to expect from this overachieving Italian – such as highlights “Il Cigno Nero,” “Prometheus” and “Yggdrasil.” There’s nothing new here but it’s fairly undeniable.
Even structurally this is repetition and not a development. As is ever the case when under Turilli’s command, the record is composed of slick narratives interspersed with strong songs, a mid-point ballad to re-energise the flow, before closing with a monstrous epic. The positioning of “Notturno” (the obligatory ballad) is at track 7, just as it was on Ascending to Infinity, and the conclusion is a direct sequel to its predecessor: “Of Michael the Archangel and Lucifer’s Fall Part II.” It’s still excessively long, as I thought it was before, too. There are no curve balls or new elements introduced, nor should it be expected. Turilli has distilled his trade to a fine brew and if he keeps hitting winners, why change?
The only drawback is that not everything is such a winner here. Prometheus is not quite as consistent as Turilli’s other recent output. There’s nothing that’s outright bad, but there are certainly a couple of tracks which could have been trimmed (notably the aforementioned closer), or pale in comparison to their neighbors (“King Solomon and the 72 Names of God” and “Il Tempo Degli Dei” for example). “One Ring to Rule Them All” is exactly as it sounds, opening with a shitty faux-Gollum voice – it’s like that one friend who delusionally thinks they’re amazing at accents and imitations, except Turilli wrote an entire song around it. It’s not bad but feels cheap compared to the grandiosity achieved elsewhere.
Despite the couple of slips and his unerring commitment to his finely-honed style, leaving progression by the wayside, you do have to admire Turilli’s self-indulgence. No-one else can touch his fusion of Italian classicism with heavy guitars, and he marches ever onwards on his quest to document every ancient civilization and elven kingdom. Just don’t expect him to change, and most importantly, don’t tell him that dragons aren’t real. He doesn’t like that.
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: v0 MP3
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Websites: Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody Official | Facebook.com/LucaTurilliRhapsody
Release Dates: EU: 2015.06.19 | NA: 06.30.2015