|Orchestral Power Metal, Symphonic Power Metal
Nuclear Blast Records
July 3rd, 2012
Release length: 57:34
With the band referring to themself as a “Cinematic Metal” act, there’s almost no hiding the focus on the Symphonic elements of the album. The keyboards really stand out here, but not really taking away from what bite the rest of the musicians bring with them. This is largely thanks to how restrained the contributions of this instrument end up being. There are plenty of additional choir vocals and Operatic performances found throughout the recording, such as during “Dante’s Inferno,” and it does help to push the Classical and epic sensations a little further. The guitars sound rather weak with a mildly mid-tempo sound that seems more like a buzzing than anything else at times, which can also describe the bass, but a little deeper in tone. The drumming sounds pretty good, though again not making much of an impact. The cymbals are at decently podded and come through pretty clear, while the snares share the same level with a natural higher sound that carries a bit of an echo. The bass kicks also don’t stand out too much, but the click can still be picked up on. However, the fault does come down to the fact that the audio is a bit too high pitched and clean, an issue one would argue a potential deal breaker. However, Ascending to Infinity has plenty of rich performances, which makes this recording a far stronger one than you might expect.
The audiio quality doesn’t stop Ascending to Infinity from having some really solid tracks. “Excalibur” is one of the most impressive, blending together an epic atmosphere with simpler fantastical Power Metal riffs common to the Rhapsody of yesterday. The melodies used are simply infectious and that additional boost in volume to the keyboards really accentuates the Symphonic side of the music well, especially when the choir singing and deeper male operatic vocals kick in during these bridges and passages, making it all feel natural amid the many shifts in the sound that keep it fresh for the over eight minutes it plays out. “Ascending to Infinity” focuses more on a stricter Power Metal performance than anything else, which works out great in weaving strength to its impact with a decent amount of enthusiasm captured all around. But, once you get past the half-way point, the Classical influences become apparent thanks to a guitar solo that feels like a grand composition condensed to fit the style, and a few more orchestral builds that amp up the tension that the final chorus delivers on.
“Tormento e Passione” doesn’t quite reach those over-the-top levels, but blends together some really beautiful sections and awe-inspiring operatic vocals from both the male and female leads. The keyboards give it a bit of an upbeat vibe with some simpler Metal passages that are completely infectious with a chorus that instantly grabs the listener in a very emotional manner. “Of Michael the Archangel and Lucifers Fall” is the longest track here, and while it’s rather diverse, it does take from the previous eight songs, such as the Middle Eastern atmospheric material similar to “Dark Fate of Atlantis.” There also are some eccentric moments where the music goes into somewhat chaotic directions, and even a Gothic style that would nicely fit the soundtrack to a Castlevania video game. All of the elements work together quite well, and all of it sounds natural, especially during the transitions in and out from one style to the next.
There are songs that will make you question the intent of this group. The introduction track “Quantum X,” for example, is a largely Techno or Industrial driven track with additional narration incorporated. This is a decent epic build to the release, but far from something that sets the proper atmosphere, making listeners expect more of a sleaker, electronic-driven richness, something “Ascending to Infinity” thankfully fails to deliver on. Even “Dante’s Inferno” has some passages that have a similar out-of-context sound from the keyboards despite the largely Operatic Power Metal foundation. There also is some out of place narration that has a bit of an Industrialized feel similar to “Quantum X” on “Of Michael the Archangel and Lucifers Fall,” but it isn’t anything that ends up hurting anything in the long run.
Ascending to Infinity really is a surprisingly great album, and one of the best to carry the Rhapsody name and lineage. There’s so much variety to this release that you’re guaranteed to never get bored with it. The mixture of Classical compositions with some well executed epic and Operatic tendencies is near perfect. Sometimes things do go a bit too far out of the spectrum, such as with “Quantum X” being an entirely different sound all together, but for fans of this style of music, or Luca Turilli’s other works, this is a recording that simply will not let you down. If this is any sign of what this incarnation can bring to the table, than Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody is going to be one of the best things to happen to Power Metal in recent years.
01. Quantum X – 2:26
02. Ascending to Infinity – 6:15
03. Dante’s Inferno – 4:56
04. Excalibur – 8:06
05. Tormento e Passione – 4:52
06. Dark Fate of Atlantis – 6:30
07. Luna – 4:15
08. Clash of the Titans – 4:14
09. Of Michael the Archangel and Lucifer’s Fall – 16:00
|Overall Score: 9.5/10
Digital review copy of this release provided by Nuclear Blast Records.