THE BIRTH OF CINEMATIC METAL
LUCA TURILLI is the Italian guitar player and composer who in 1993, together with the keyboard player ALEX STAROPOLI, founded the symphonic metal band RHAPSODY. The band released their first album, LEGENDARY TALES, in 1997 and quickly followed with their sophomore release, SYMPHONY OF ENCHANTED LANDS one year later, both reaching high chart positions and establishing what became called “Hollywood Metal” at first and then some years later becoming known as “Film Score metal.” Both genres were clearly describing a new style of music based on the connection between the most epic and glorious power/speed metal of the late ‘80s with Luca and Alex’s infinite passion for the cinema and the world of soundtracks. This genre - enriched by folk music influences, guitar playing of neoclassical inspiration and lyrics related with the fantasy “sagas” created by Luca Turilli himself, influenced a whole generation of new bands in the years to follow and RHAPSODY became one of the most important acts of the last decade in the world of heavy/rock music. In 2003, the band was forced to change their name to RHAPSODY OF FIRE because of legal reasons due to copyright problems. That same year, they started an exclusive collaboration with Sir CHRISTOPHER LEE, the most filmed actor in the history of cinema. His presence as special guest and narrator for the “Dark Secret” saga added great pathos to the heroic tale told over 5 albums.
After 15 years, 10 official albums, and more than 1,500,000 copies sold worldwide, the cycle related with the fantasy sagas (the epic tale on which all the music & lyrics of the band were based) came to an end. In that same moment, Luca Turilli and Alex Staropoli decided to proceed with a friendly split and continue their artistic careers separately while both keeping the name RHAPSODY - mainly to be able to go on with the same artistic possibilities in the name of all the personal economical investment made by both parties to bring the band to the top through many years of hard & passionate work. The split was communicated officially to the press on August 2011.
Alex Staropoli agreed to continue as RHAPSODY OF FIRE while Luca Turilli moved on as RHAPSODY, adding his name on top of the logo due to the same legal reasons of the past not allowing to him to use the word RHAPSODY alone. While the original singer FABIO LIONE remained with Alex, Luca was followed by the two band members & personal friends DOMINIQUE LEURQUIN (Guitar) and PATRICE GUERS (Bass). ALEX HOLZWARTH (Drums) deciding to keep his place in both bands.
“Before starting to compose a new RHAPSODY album, we needed to find the most important member of the new family. This means: the new singer,” says Luca. “Not an easy task as he had to be versatile, able to sing in different styles and able to offer different vocal colors. As in RHAPSODY before and RHAPSODY OF FIRE later, I always loved to compose songs stylistically very different from each other. Also for this new adventure, I wanted to find the perfect person allowing me to not have limits while composing the vocal lines for an album.” The final choice was the Italian singer ALESSANDRO CONTI, a real vocal virtuoso, able to pass with extreme easiness from crystalline high-toned vocal lines to whispered low tones, from aggressive to lyrical/operatic parts. He learned to control his vocal expression studying as a tenor at the Corale Lirica Rossini, the same school attended by the great and unforgettable maestro LUCIANO PAVAROTTI. “Alessandro is just a fantastic singer,” affirms bassist Patrice Guers. “One of those voices making the difference. I am sure this was a winning choice and in the years to come, Alessandro will establish himself as one of the most appreciated singers of the music scene, while contributing in an important way to the artistic perspectives of our band.”
Always trustful in his artistic plans & visions, once the new singer was found and after signing a new contract with NUCLEAR BLAST, Luca started working on the new RHAPSODY album. In that same moment, the first official news related with the new band was released through a promotional video trailer where the new name of the band was finally revealed to the world. In a second news trailer, the new album title was presented: ASCENDING TO INFINITY. The cover was created once again by Colombian artist FELIPE MACHADO FRANCO and its European release date is JUNE 22, 2012.
It is true that in those same months and after the new RHAPSODY band started releasing their first official news, the split was still causing many rumors, as most of the people did not understand the truth behind what really happened. Many of them didn’t know what to expect artistically from the new RHAPSODY band, so Luca released an official statement clarifying the whole situation: “Some months ago, Alex and I proceeded with the friendly split thinking that there is surely space for both bands. It’s obvious that ASCENDING TO INFINITY represents for me and the rest of the band the 11th RHAPSODY album. We like and need to underline this to make fans understand what they can expect from our band now and in the future. ASCENDING TO INFINITY was never meant to be a 4th LUCA TURILLI solo album or the title of a different project like some people wrongly thought at first. I wanted to go on writing RHAPSODY music, nothing else. This was always clearly agreed with my ex-colleague Alex Staropoli. I wrote all the music on those RHAPSODY albums together with him since 1993, and so I composed this new album of RHAPSODY in the same way I composed all the others in the last 20 years. Of course, as the fantasy saga came to an end, I had the chance to evolve the sound, to add modern elements and to write about all those subjects we love so much: the mysteries of the planet, enigmas of the past, myths, psychology, anthropology, science, science fiction, soul evolution, etc., but still the essence is RHAPSODY and it shows all my infinite passion for the cinema and the world of the soundtracks. It is not true that I, Dominique, or Patrice ever left RHAPSODY OF FIRE. Nobody left anyone. I personally would have never done it after all that I personally invested and did for the band in these years. Alex and I simply decided to proceed with a friendly split because the working feeling was not the same anymore - something that can happen in the best families. Therefore, all was agreed on with an extremely friendly basis and the band name was kept by both parties for obvious reasons, essentially to be able to start with the same artistic possibilities. None of us could have asked of the other to renounce the name or the logo, simply because to bring this same name/logo to the top through the years, both Alex and I have made and are still making huge economical efforts. So, as now we’ll release what we consider to be the RHAPSODY album number eleven, in the same way soon Alex, Fabio and the rest of their band will release what for them will be the perfect 11th RHAPSODY album. This is to explain that there are no problems at all between the two bands, and that we respect each other as always.”
Composing ASCENDING TO INFINITY started in August 2011. From August until December, Luca prepared the basic versions of the songs, the minimum necessary for the drums to be recorded. The real studio production started in December with the drum recordings while the mix ended in the very end of March 2012. This new album was produced by Luca Turilli and the studio he chose for the production was the BACKYARD STUDIOS of SEBASTIAN ROEDER (Kempten, Germany). Sebastian Roeder was the person who recorded, edited, and mixed the album. While the drums, bass, vocal parts and the choirs were recorded in Kempten, other studios were used to record the other instruments. Dominique recorded the rhythm guitars and some lead parts in the HIROSHIMA STUDIO of ARNAUD MENARD (Challonges, France) while Luca recorded the lead guitar parts and all the keyboards in his private home studio in Trieste, Italy. The person who mastered the album is CHRISTOPH STICKEL (MSM STUDIOS, Munich, Germany).
“After 10 RHAPSODY/RHAPSODY OF FIRE albums realized at the court of my friend SASCHA PAETH in the Gate Studios of Wolfsburg, I felt the time arrived for me to turn the page and to start a new adventure in trying something different,” affirms Luca. “That said, Sascha will remain in the history of our music for being a great sound engineer and for the legendary mixes he made and that he will make in the future for other bands. My meeting with Sebastian Roeder happened on the last tour I performed with RHAPSODY OF FIRE. He was the FOH sound guy, the main man behind the sound the band had on stage. He is a very nice person and between us was born immediately a great feeling. I surely don‘t need to spend many words about the incredible talent he has while working live for a lot of famous bands. The fact is that in a short time, knowing he is the owner of a recording studio, I asked him about the possibility of working together on the new album. He reacted enthusiastically and so we started our professional collaboration.”
“The composition of the album ASCENDING TO INFINITY has truly been a unique life experience. A real spiritual journey through parallel dimensions, I would say. Eight months living and breathing for this album, sometimes forgetting to eat and sometimes even to sleep, ha ha. This to underline how important ASCENDING TO INFINITY was for me and for the other band members, the record company, for Sebastian, for all of us. I wanted to realize an album sounding modern, massive, cinematic, and choral as never before!” says Luca. “The hardest moment of the production happened in February and March when I was defining the orchestral arrangements and simultaneously had to record the main guitar and the keyboard solos. On top of that, I had to cross-check the mixes of the songs. In that same moment, also for Sebastian, life was not that easy. I sent him more than 180 tracks of keyboards just for the 16 minute-long song OF MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL AND LUCIFER’S FALL and together with the other tracks recorded and the 90 tracks used only for the choirs, we established a new record of tracks to mix, for me and for him too, ha ha. We both consider this as the most crazy experience of our whole artistic career. It also happened we both didn’t sleep for 3 nights consecutively to be able to respect our record company’s deadlines. We’ll never forget that, ha ha.”
Cinema is the heart of everything in RHAPSODY and this will be soon underlined thanks to the new generation of videos created for the band by the talented director OWE LINGVALL of DREAMDAY MEDIA, and the promotional trailers (created by Luca Turilli himself) that the band will release from now on. The same “motto” created to advertise the artistic proposal of the new RHAPSODY music is: “BORN TO SOUND CINEMATIC.” This means: No compromise. The birth of CINEMATIC METAL is a new reality!
“The love for the cinema and the choral music is something clear and evident in each song of the album. The epic, cinematic impact of the music is something flowing in my blood and carved in my genetics; there is nothing to do. I love movies of all styles and especially the big blockbusters of Hollywood full of special effects. I love soundtrack composers like HANS ZIMMER and DANNY ELFMAN and surely the best part of every production corresponds for me to the moment I have to create and define the orchestral arrangements. Many bands having orchestral parts in their album normally use external people to arrange their music for an orchestra. In the case of RHAPSODY, I write every single note for each section of the orchestra by myself and of course this process needs and takes time, dedication, and passion. At first, I start creating a main orchestral theme with some sounds inspired by the mood or the style of one song. Later I arrange the same theme for each section of the orchestra: strings, brass, woodwinds, percussions, etc. In a third moment, I add elements of sound design to add a further touch of modernity to the whole thing and this is the magic moment when a ‘traditional’ classical composition can turn into a modern and cinematic musical part that becomes also very ‘visual,’ too. The intro of this new album is called QUANTUM X. It took me 5 days to compose and arrange it and I consider it as one of the best orchestral pieces I ever realized because of that specific balance between the traditional and modern elements that is typical of the new generation of soundtracks and that I like so much.”
ASCENDING TO INFINITY is an ambitious album and varies musically & lyrically. “Before, as there was a fantasy saga to respect, the music and the lyrics were built around that tale exclusively and there was no real possibility to write about different things, although in the last RHAPSODY OF FIRE albums, I had the chance to add a lot of modern elements already,” Luca explains. “Writing the text of some songs, I used - in many cases - the narrative technique of ‘symbolism,’ hiding deeper meanings behind the apparent simplicity of some words and sentences. This limited ‘field of expression’ was also one of the reasons why through the years I felt the need to start a solo parallel career and to release different albums speaking about different topics. But now, for the new RHAPSODY, there are no artistic boundaries anymore and there is not a fantasy saga to respect musically & lyrically. That’s also the reason why from now on there is no need for me to express myself in a different band and that’s why in August of 2011, when we announced the new adventure of our RHAPSODY band, in the same news I officially announced to have definitely ended my solo career as LUCA TURILLI, to be finally able to dedicate myself, heart and soul, to RHAPSODY only!” He expands on concepts of the new album: “Every song is a little excerpt of my soul. Every title and its lyrical and musical content is the gate and an emotional passage to another world. QUANTUM X, ASCENDING TO INFINITY, DARK FATE OF ATLANTIS and OF MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL AND LUCIFER’S FALL, for example, are connected together as they are part of a concept related with the theories of the multiversum, the secrets of the Kabbalah and the genetics of human beings. Again, I love to use the narrative technique of ‘symbolism’ and ‘double meaning’ passages while facing the texts of the songs. For example, writing EXCALIBUR, I didn‘t really intend to speak about the famous tale of Arthur, but instead about the symbolic valor of that mystical weapon and the spiritual meaning given to it through the ages. Then I personally consider OF MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL AND LUCIFER’S FALL as one of the best songs I ever wrote. I love its modern cinematic touch. The deep meaning of the lyrics really touches my soul. It happened many times that I found myself crying while listening to the music and thinking of the meaning of those words at the same time essentially because it is an emotional journey through the heart of the universe and includes scientific, esoteric, and religious aspects. There are a lot of Latin lyrics, like in my best tradition, and some of them were taken or inspired by the ‘Apocalypse’ of St. John.”
Two tour agencies are actually working for the band and a worldwide headlining tour will start in the fall of 2012. It is just the first step of the new RHAPSODY’s artistic journey and recently something really important happened in relation with it. “We tried it but we understood quickly that it would have been really impossible to have our friend and drummer ALEX HOLZWARTH playing for both RHAPSODY and RHAPSODY OF FIRE. In these conditions there is simply no way to go on and so we agreed that the best is to keep the two bands completely independent from each other. That’s why we found the only solution possible. Alex Holzwarth will go on playing for RHAPSODY OF FIRE and this makes sense as his brother is playing in that band too. From our side, after thanking Alex for all the wonderful moments shared together and to have recorded the new album showing once more all his great technical skill, we started looking around and trying to find a special person that could have taken his important place. Well, we can tell you that we found that person and he is surely special, very special… honestly one of the best drummers around that we had the chance to listen to!” affirms enthusiastic Luca. “We are really proud to announce that the new drummer and permanent band member of RHAPSODY will be ALEX LANDENBURG (ANNIHILATOR, STRATOVARIUS). We are honored to have Alex with us, we admire his unique talent and we are sure we will have a lot of fun together, in the years to come, on the stages of the whole world!”
“Honestly, the addition of Alex to our family is something really amazing from the perspectives of the band. Now we are looking forward to presenting the new RHAPSODY music and to play these epic songs in our future concerts” states new lead vocalist Alessandro Conti. Guitarist Dominique Leurquin pledges: “In our future shows, we want to offer the best RHAPSODY experience possible, therefore we’ll insist both on the musical and the visual aspect of the show, to offer to our fans some cinematic nights to remember!” Bassist Patrice Guers adds: “Be prepared for the ASCENDING OF INFINITY worldwide tour. We’ll play the new songs, the old ones, and on top there will also be a couple of surprises from the solo albums of Luca. We feel to be a real family and great companions of the path of this new adventure, ready to spread our energy around the world for each one of you out there!” Luca shares this important message with all RHAPSODY fans from around the world: “Respect and love to you and your families. Enjoy the miracle of life and most important of all… STAY CINEMATIC!”
© Nuclear Blast / Luca Turilli