In 1997 a holy thunder rolled through the international metal scene as Rhapsody, the Italian metal band, released their debut album, "Legendary Tales". Cofounders Luca Turilli and Alex Staropoli created an epic sound with this first album. Incorporating classical music and baroque sounds, they invented a completely new genre, "Hollywood Metal," in which they blended the styles of such composers as Vivaldi, Bach and Paganini with melodic heavy metal of today and contents from the fantasy genre.
In the years that followed, Turilli and Staropoli, joined by Fabio Lione (vocals), perfected this new sound with their albums: "Symphony Of Enchanted Lands" (1998), "Dawn Of Victory" (2000), "Rain Of A Thousand Flames" (2001), and "Power Of The Dragonflame" (2002). They wrote pieces such as "Emerald Sword" (the "Smoke On The Water" of the late '90s), drawing on Russian folklore and Celtic style elements.
Turilli is the band's lyricist, as well as guitarist. His lyrics often refer to mystical lore from the medieval age and the heroic valor of those times, reminding us of the everlasting fight between good and evil, "Evil can be found everywhere," says Turilli, "but it will never win as long as there are enough good people who fight against it.\rdblquote
"The Dark Secret" EP, which was released on June 28, 2004, gave listeners a fantastic taste of what can be expected from the new album, "Symphony Of Enchanted Lands II - The Dark Secret," which will be released at the end of September, 2004. Turilli and Staropoli were responsible for the production of the album, a first for both of them. Christopher Lee was also involved in the project, narrating part of the storyline. The value of his contribution cannot be overstated; as the grand seigneur of film, Lee is still in high demand and busier than ever. "A dream came true for us," said Turilli after the recordings were successfully finalized. "We feel especially honored that such an outstanding personality of film and theater has agreed to be a part of our album." Staropoli agrees, "More than this, Christopher Lee has filled our saga with life and magic. His voice is simply fantastic and truly majestic."
Christopher Lee's vocal narrations were produced by Joey DeMaio, world-renowned bass player of Manowar. DeMaio no doubt was able to call upon his experience in producing another grand master of cinema, Orson Welles. With the complete support of DeMaio's record company, Magic Circle Music, Turilli and Staropoli were able to concentrate on what is essential: the perfect realization of their artistic visions. During the course of production, six studios in England, Italy, Belgium, Germany, the Czech Republic and the U.S. were employed to ensure not only perfect working conditions, but also to maintain the integrity of the sound during each phase of recording.
The new album is a true work of art, showcasing 12 pieces with a total playing time of 72 minutes. With this production, Rhapsody has once again created a new genre from now on known as "Film Score Metal." The opener, "The Dark Secret," immediately features Christopher Lee, speaking in the role of the wise and all-knowing king, who over the course of the saga returns with words of wisdom to lead the listener through the storyline. Coupled with vivid sound effects, his voice creates a magical fantasy in the listener's mind.
The "Symphony Of Enchanted Lands II - The Dark Secret" features a wide variety of sound and style. The complexity of the work will have the listener discovering new details even after having heard the album a hundred times. "Unholy Warcry" perfectly mixes the dramatic art of voluminous heavy metal with Staropoli's opulent choral arrangements. On "Never Forgotten Heroes", Gregorian choir voices and majestic piano sounds create a spooky, Black Sabbath-like atmosphere before the composition turns into a straight piece which is ennobled by Turilli's excellent guitar leads.
"Elgard's Green Valleys" is a trip into Renaissance times. "The Magic Of The Wizard's Dream" is a melancholic piano- and flute-driven ballad. Fans of traditional heavy metal will be drawn to "The Last Angel's Call", an up-tempo piece that sounds like a definite hit. Another heavier track is "Shadows Of Death", a powerful piece in true Rhapsody tradition that, again, is driven by Turilli's excellent leads combined with Staropoli's brilliant orchestral parts. The power ballad "Dragonland's River" with its harpsichord sounds and baroque-flutes ensemble will delight all metal heroes. "Guardiani Del Destino", a track featuring medieval instruments and sung in Italian, has an instant appeal because of its dramatic flair.
"Erian's Mystical Rhymes" and "Sacred Power Of Raging Winds" are two monumental masterpieces that are each more than 10 minutes long. These two could easily be considered mini rock operas. They showcase classical string sequences, as well as an orchestra, bass drum, and a choir. The violin and the cello produce threatening dark sounds and a magic atmosphere is created by the duels fought between the wind players and the strings. These elements are fascinating and unusual for a heavy metal composition. Together with the splendid lead guitars by Turilli and Lee's spoken parts, they give the whole work an incredibly magical mood, which is then intensified by Fabio Lione's flexible and beautiful voice.
"Nightfall On The Grey Mountains", the grand finale of the album, is carried by a powerful choir, fanfares and church organs as well as Christopher Lee's epilogue.
This piece will no doubt raise existing standards for all musicians to new heights. Where else can a listener enjoy the sound of a 50-voice choir and the Czech Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic Orchestra performing in perfect unity with pure heavy metal and creating an unstoppable power?
On September 27, 2004, the world of metal will change forever with the worldwide release of Rhapsody's latest album, "Symphony Of Enchanted Lands II - The Dark Secret". Metal will never be the same!