After a couple of somewhat stale albums, Rhapsody/Rhapsody of Fire managed to reinvent themselves near the end Luca Turilli’s time with the band. At first it was unclear as to why Turilli would leave the band to create yet another Rhapsody when his solo project brought us albums that were pretty much the equivalent of Rhapsody without Fabio Lione on vocals. The first Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody album made this reasoning quite obvious: Turilli wanted to become more symphonic, more cinematic, and more epic. For the most part, this worked on “Ascending To Infinity”. The album has its ups and downs, but is a decent, albeit worse and slightly different version of the music Turilli had previously made with Rhapsody. Unfortunately, “Prometheus, Symphonia Ignis Divinus” (I won’t be spelling that out again) takes it a step too far.
If the above paragraph seemed needlessy complicated, that’s because it was intentional. This is because it reflects the very problem with LTR’s new record: it is overly grandiose in its approach. There are so many things going on throughout this album that it feels like one giant blur. It does have all of the hallmarks of Rhapsody’s music: a wonderful, soaring high-pitched vocalist, plenty of keyboards and symphonics, and of course, Luca’s dazzling guitar work (with excessive amounts of sweep-picking). This sounds great, but in the end, it’s all fluff and no substance. There is minimal semblance of songwriting or anything memorable here. Even on a track like “One Ring To Rule Them All”, where Luca puts together a nice melody, it is immediately overshadowed by the sheer absurdity of the record. There are so many similar sounding melodies throughout the record that it is difficult to commit any of them to memory.
The worst part about all of these flaws is that they could be easily mitigated by doing two things: shortening the album, and singing in English. I’ll start with the former; at nearly 70 minutes, this album just keeps going. It’s one thing for a record to blur together because it has a lot of fast, short songs with similar riffs, but this album struggles because everything is as drawn out as it possibly could be. Just when you are awaiting a return to the chorus, a quiet interlude pops out of nowhere to add another 30 seconds. Even the original Rhapsody ran into this problem occasionally, but when they had wicked tracks like “Unholy Warcry” or “Reign of Terror”, the length wasn’t as bad. This album has no such track that you’re going to want to play over and over again. The last song is 18 minutes, but you'd have no idea because the whole album feels like one long, unending, painful song.
The other area where I struggle is that much of this record isn’t in English. Of course, this isn’t a phenomenon new to Rhapsody, but this is probably the most pervasive record of theirs in terms of lacking English. Most bands do sing better in their native language, and vocalist Alessandro Conti is no exception; his voice is much more soothing in what I presume is Italian. Unfortunately, this provides nothing to latch onto. I realize that metal is a very English-dominated type of music, and perhaps it is unfair to ask a band to sing in another language, but with music this over the top, the lack of English means that it feels like it goes on and on forever. On the other hand, one look at the lyrics of the title track, and perhaps it is best that they don’t sing in English.
If you listen to one song from this album, you might think all of the above criticisms are harsh, but the more I listen to this record, the more it wears thin on me. It feels as though Luca wrote an album that has all of the style of Rhapsody of Fire, but none of the substance. This isn’t trying to say that Alex Staropoli was the reason for the band’s success; in fact, the new Rhapsody of Fire albums could likewise said to be devoid of the soul they used to have. The real problem is that both of these musicians ground each other, and alone, they just don’t work (or at least, not anymore; Luca’s early solo albums were fantastic). If you’re a mega-fan of Luca’s work, buy this album; otherwise, stick with the old records and pick up “Ascending To Infinity” if you’re feeling more adventurous.
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"One Ring To Rule Them All"
3.0/5 or 60%.
Written by Scott