Ghost Cult Ed and part-time Blaze Bayley impersonator Steve Tovey recently claimed that Power Metal needs its own version of Portal. Not a band with multi-coloured clocks on their heads playing abstract Noise Metal about unicorns (though that would be brilliant), but a band who can shake up a moribund genre by playing music that is entirely rooted within it while taking a very different approach to song-writing and composition. Having already given his chosen style a massive shock to the system with the original line-up of Rhapsody, Luca Turilli is in the position to do so again – if enough of his peers are prepared to listen.
Following on directly from 2012’s revelatory Ascending To Infinity, Prometheus – Symphonia Ignis Divinis (both Nuclear Blast) sees Luca and friends fusing his original Rhapsody format with Italian Operatic and Symphonic Pop but integrating it more smoothly. Whereas Ascending declared this influence with a straight, guitar-free cover of Alessandro Safina’s ‘Luna’ alongside more traditional Rhapsody-style songs, Prometheus blends these elements – and the film soundtracks that Rhapsody had always aimed for but never achieved this well – into a seamless whole. If this leaves the album with nothing quite as breath-taking as Ascending’s stand-out ‘Tormento e Passione’, it creates a more consistent feel across the album, not to mention a subtle, understated piece of dark symphonic pop in the shape of ‘Notturno’, which is in an entirely different league to the ballads most Power Metal bands would settle for.
In case it hasn’t been clear already, this is not straight-forward European Power Metal. Just as Portal baffled many older Death Metal fans with their lack of recognisable riffs and melodies, there’ll be Rhapsody fans left frustrated by the unconventional song structures and the relatively minor role that the guitars often play compared to the other elements. Like its predecessor, it manages to capture the feel of classic Rhapsody while pulling off moves that they would never have been willing (or, frankly, able) to handle.
Prometheus, like its predecessor, is both a bold reinvention of European Power Metal and a celebration of its traditions, simultaneously familiar and challengingly new, and it offers a template of how the old warhorse could be given new purpose – the question is whether that’s what the rest of the Power Metal world wants.
Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody on Facebook