“Born to Sound Cinematic”. That is the tagline on Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody website. Turilli has been known for writing movie-score metal for all of his previous endeavors, but the thing is, he embraces the concept and proudly flies the symphonic flag. That said, there probably is no band that does this style better, either. LTR live up to the self-billing on their Nuclear Blast recording Ascending to Infinity.
After leaving Rhapsody of Fire and a split from Manowar’s Magic Circle Music label (among other silliness), Turilli has embarked on an adventure with his own version of Rhapsody. I caught Rhapsody of Fire in 2005 with Manowar and thought that they were performing for a movie score, and frankly, I didn’t care for them at all. I have acquired several of their albums , along with Luca Turilli’s over the last few years, and still, I didn’t get much out of the whole, seemingly overblown performances. Ascending to Infinity, though, seems to be an improved effort and one I have found to be enjoyable in places.
The band is in full movie mode right from the beginning with Quantum X, starting with an atmospheric, Middle Eastern vibe, accompanied by a spoken word part that sounds just like a film introduction (only would have been better if they had gotten that movie announcer guy), inviting us on a journey “that will blow your mind”. It quickly transitions into a Planet of the Apes horn section and then a choral section, reminiscent of a climax of an adventure movie deep in a jungle or of a sacrifice being made on a volcano. They then launch into the title track, an upbeat, melodic, symphonic number with swirling keyboards and galloping guitars, soaring vocals and dueling keys and guitars. The definite neo-classical guitar work of Turilli is all over the place for a good part of the 6-plus minutes of the song. Dante’s Inferno is next, clearly at home in any number of soundtracks, quite symphonic and even bombastic at times, although there is some metal to be had with the guitar work, but there is quite a bit of orchestral instrumentation throughout. Turilli does put on display some very good soloing here.
Next is a medieval intro with lutes and flutes in order to introduce Excalibur. Off it goes into cinematic bliss with nice sections of tension and release, propelling the listener off into the English countryside accompanied by a symphony and metal mix. The 8 minute track seems to be a journey unto itself, neoclassic in the guitar, classic in some of the other passages, trading off among a number of different instruments and feels. Oh, and more spoken word bits, along with bombastic timpani, string sections and metal guitars. Tormente E Passione starts with what sounds like silent film era piano and male and female operatic singing, shifting into a more modern sounding rock song – then back again. The middle section does drag on a bit too much, but it is ultimately very classical in its feel and construction.
Dark Fate of Atlantis, the first single from the album, brings back the Middle Eastern atmosphere, before launching into an alternatively fast – mid-paced more standard Power Metal song. No doubt there are still a significant amount of orchestral sounds and instruments here, but overall it comes across as one of the more “metal” songs on the album. Fantasia Gotica, a ballad, is not anything close to metal. Nice tune, I can see it on a movie soundtrack, but metal? No – skip it. Clash of the Titans brings back the heaviness, a song that seems to have a sense of urgency, even with some nice double bass and fast riffing. Orchestra, of course, and some nice dual leads and guitar soloing – even some aggressive vocals.
Album closer is an epic, three-part song lasting about 16 minutes, called Of Michael the Archangel and Lucifer’s Fall. It starts off slow and foreboding, setting the atmosphere nicely dark. The song picks up speed and intensity throughout Part I (Alma Mundi), before launching into the sweet Power Metal section of the song, evolving into a more melodic, orchestral composition. Part II, Fatum Mortalis, picks up with the PM theme of Part I, essentially a redux of the metal part of the song. Ignis Divinus – Part III – is the conclusion of the song and of the album as well, starting off with pipe organ, more neo-classical guitar work from Turilli, and yes, some more orchestral stylings from the band. At about 4 minutes left, they transition, somewhat, with a slower, building construction, adding more and speeding up, slowing down, really creating a chaotic (but under control?) mood, finally bringing the theme together in epic fashion.
Not sure I understand it, but here is the video for Dark Fate of Atlantis:
I can appreciate what Turilli does, particularly with his strong songwriting skills and ability to orchestrate and make it all sound heavy, yet accessible. Usually I think this style is way over the top and overblown, as some of the choral passages, in particular, get to be a bit much, but musically, it is a superior work. I would appreciate a balance leaning more toward the metal and a reduction of some of the orchestra. Ascending to Infinity didn’t necessarily “blow my mind”, but is an album I found entertaining and will definitely have to be in a certain mood to listen to.
Outstanding tracks are Excalibur, Dark Fate of Atlantis, Clash of the Titans, and Of Michael the Archangel and Lucifer’s Fall (though it is a bit long).
I hear the sound in a METAL way.