Ascending to Infinity (Nuclear Blast)
After 15 years of being a part of RHAPSODY OF FIRE, LUCA TURILLI and ALEX STAROPOLI amicably decided to part ways to move in different directions artistically. Due to the immense contributions both had made to RHAPSODY OF FIRE both LUCA and ALEX are continuing the work of their former band only on different branches with ALEX retaining the original name and LUCA now using LUCA TURILLI’S RHAPSODY in order to release the new album Ascending to Infinity.
The album is a strong power metal record produced by LUCA himself and mastered by CHRISTOPH STICKEL with the end result being an excellently produced and beautifully arranged album. Power metal records can at times sound like one track broken into many parts, but little twists and subtle differences throughout this record prevent Ascending to Infinity becoming tired as the tracks progress. ALESSANDRO CONTI’s lead vocals have such and strength and range that when lent support by the choir produce a barrage of vocals that both compliment the underlying music and lend depth and strength to it.
“Quantum X”, and the tribal beat that underscores it, opens the album. While a good track it is not as strong a start as the album arguably deserves. Hot on its heels “Ascending to Infinity” lifts the album up with faster paced percussion and more prominent guitars.
The next two tracks “Dante’s Inferno” and “Excalibur” are my favourite two tracks on this album. “Dante’s Inferno” starts with a slow, tension building lead up before launching into great guitar riffs and solos. “Excalibur” has stronger vocals with the lead and chorus building up to crescendos regularly through the track and creating what can only be described as an epic vocal sound. This track also has some good guitar riffs and solos on it, but perhaps not as good as those on “Dante’s Inferno”.
The remaining tracks continue in the vein of the largess of the vocals and guitar riffs shining through from the music underneath while managing to add their own variations, “Tormento E Passione” is the first track the keyboards take more prominence and the contrast of male and female vocals work really well. “Dark Fate of Atlantis” has a much more eastern and oriental feel to it, “Clash of the Titans” has musical parts that almost sound like battle scenes and the closing track, at almost 16 minutes in length, is an onslaught of sounds from eerie atmospheric music, to keyboard sounds and sinister spoken words.
“Luna” is really the only disappointment to me on the album, the soft female vocals that start this ring clear, however, the overall sound of the track is more something that you would expect to hear in the background, for example in an advert. This is a shame as the remainder of the album really draws you into the music and holds its own in the foreground. The track does build to a stronger sound, but leaves you with the feeling it didn’t quite get there.
“Luna” aside, Ascending to Infinity is an excellent album and fans of RHAPSODY OF FIRE, THERION and perhaps to a lesser extent BLIND GUARDIAN and some of DEVIN TOWNSEND’s more experimental work will really enjoy this album. The only things that leave this album just short of higher accolades is the track “Luna” being a lot weaker than the others and overall, despite the grandiose sounds and the sheer depth of the musical layering of vocals and instruments, it would be nice to see something a bit more ground breaking coming out of this genre.
by Maria Long
(Editor’s Note: you can follow Maria’s blog at Heavy Metal Bullet – www.heavymetalbullet.blogspot.com)