Rhapsody of Fire
Rhapsody of Fire
Rhapsody of Fire in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2010
|Also known as|
Rhapsody of Fire (formerly known as Rhapsody) is an Italian symphonic power metal band formed by Luca Turilli and Alex Staropoli, widely seen as a pioneer of the symphonic power metal subgenre.
Since forming in 1993 as Thundercross, the band has released twelve studio albums, two live albums, two EPs, and a Live DVD. Rhapsody of Fire is known for its conceptual lyrics that constitute a fantasy story throughout all of their albums from 1997 to 2011. After using the moniker of Rhapsody for nearly ten years, the band changed their name to Rhapsody of Fire in 2006 due to trademark issues.
In 2011, following the release of their album From Chaos to Eternity which concluded The Dark Secret Saga, and after 18 years as co-leader of the band, Turilli left Rhapsody of Fire (on good terms) to form a new Rhapsody band, Luca Turilli's Rhapsody, along with two other members who left with him, Dominique Leurquin, Patrice Guers. They describe their discography as a parallel continuation of Rhapsody of Fire's discography, with their first album being their own "Rhapsody's 11th album" and consider that they didn't leave the band, rather that it amicably split in two.
In 2016, other long-term members Fabio Lione and Alex Holzwarth had left the band, and reunited with Turilli, Leurquin and Guers, to play again under the name Rhapsody for their 20th Anniversary Farewell Tour; in December 2018, several months after announcing that Luca Turilli's Rhapsody was now inactive, Turilli announced the creation of a new Rhapsody band named Turilli / Lione Rhapsody, with the lineup of the 20th Anniversary Farewell Tour (recreating, minus Staropoli, the original band's 2002–2011 lineup).
Early years as Thundercross (1993–1997)
In 1993, Luca Turilli decided to create a symphonic metal band with the vision of integrating classical music elements with metal. The first to join him were Alex Staropoli and Daniele Carbonera. These three formed a band that became known as Thundercross. Turilli has said in interviews that both Thundercross and the early Rhapsody material were heavily influenced by Helloween, Crimson Glory and Manowar's style of heavy metal, and that Yngwie Malmsteen and Jason Becker were a big influence from a guitar playing perspective.
A year later Thundercross released their first demo, Land of Immortals, with Cristiano Adacher taking on the role of vocals. During this period of time, they went through a few bassist changes in their lineup. Limb Music Products & Publishing showed interest in the band's music and shortly after the band received a proposal from the record company.
Having accepted the offer, the band soon began promoting their music and started recording their second demo, Eternal Glory. At this time they also changed their name to Rhapsody so as to highlight their connection with classical music and poetry. Shortly after the release of Eternal Glory, Cristiano (vocals) and Andrea (bassist) left the band. Rhapsody found new vocalist Fabio Lione, the former vocalist of Labyrinth and Athena, who was known for the depth and power of his voice in his songs.
Album debut: Legendary Tales and Symphony of Enchanted Lands (1997–2000)
With these four members, the band started recording their debut album, Legendary Tales, which was released in 1997. Rhapsody incorporated classical music, baroque and heavy metal styles in a subgenre they call "film score metal" due to its resemblance to movie soundtracks. The album was recorded in Germany by the well known producer Sascha Paeth (Heaven's Gate), who also helped Rhapsody with their bass parts. The album was also the beginning story of the Emerald Sword Saga. The lyrics on the album (written by Turilli) often refer to mystical medieval folklore and the heroic valor of those times and are centered around high fantasy, highlighting in particular the everlasting fight between good and evil.
In the years that followed, Turilli, Staropoli and Lione developed their new sound even more with their second album, Symphony of Enchanted Lands, in 1998, having been joined by bass player Alessandro Lotta. They wrote pieces such as "Emerald Sword", drawing on Russian folklore and Celtic style elements and adding to the Emerald Sword Saga. 1999 was a quiet year for Rhapsody, but Luca and Fabio both released solo albums.
Success and conclusion of The Emerald Sword Saga (2000–2004)
After the tour they began recording their new album, Dawn of Victory. The first single "Holy Thunderforce" was released in 2000 with some success. The new album showed Rhapsody in a whole new light, with a more aggressive style and sped-up tempo. It continued the third part of the Emerald Sword Saga, and the orchestra still played an important part of the album, with songs such as "Lux Triumphans", "The Village of Dwarves" and "The Bloody Rage of the Titans", played beside more bombastic melodies as "Dawn of Victory", "Triumph for My Magic Steel", "Dargor, Shadowlord of the Black Mountain" and "Holy Thunderforce". It was more successful than any of their previous outings, and "Dawn of Victory" ranked at #32 in the German charts, while in Japan it peaked in 4th place. In early summer 2001, Rhapsody toured through South America and Europe.
Rain of a Thousand Flames served as a bridge between the last part of the Emerald Sword Saga and Power of the Dragonflame. Power of the Dragonflame was released in February 2002 and saw incredible success around the world. Marking the end of the Emerald Sword Saga, it contained soft ballads, upbeat metal melodies, and the epic 19-minute-long concluding song, "Gargoyles, Angels of Darkness". The band was joined by another two members, Patrice Guers (bass) and Dominique Leurquin (guitars). Alex Holzwarth, who had been playing drums for Rhapsody onstage since 2000 was listed in the official band line-up on these releases, although Holzwarth has played drums in the studio since The Dark Secret EP.
Beginning of The Dark Secret Saga (2004–2006)
The Dark Secret EP was released on June 28, 2004. It gave listeners a taste of what could be expected from the new album, labelled Symphony of Enchanted Lands II: The Dark Secret which was released several months later in September. Christopher Lee was involved in this project, narrating part of the storyline. Symphony of Enchanted Lands II was a follow-up to the Emerald Sword Saga called The Dark Secret Saga.
Symphony of Enchanted Lands II features a wide variety of sounds and styles. "Unholy Warcry" mixes powerful heavy metal with Staropoli's elaborate choral arrangements. On "Never Forgotten Heroes", Gregorian choir voices and majestic piano sounds create an eerie atmosphere before the composition turns into a straight piece[vague] which is enriched by Turilli's guitar leads. "Erian's Mystical Rhymes" and "Sacred Power of Raging Winds" are two pieces that are each more than 10 minutes long. These two showcase classical string sequences, as well as an orchestra, bass drum, and a choir. The violin and the cello produce dark sounds and a magical atmosphere is created by the duels fought between the woodwind players and the strings. Together with the lead guitars by Turilli and Lee's spoken parts, they give the whole work a magical mood, which is then intensified by Fabio Lione's flexible voice. Christopher Lee also sang with the band as a guest with Fabio Lione in the song "The Magic of the Wizard's Dream".
Name change, legal issues and Triumph or Agony (2006–2008)
In July 2006 the band formerly known as Rhapsody changed their name to Rhapsody of Fire due to trademark issues. The band's website goes into further detail: The band members consider this a great new start, reflecting the emboldened and increasingly grandiose direction that their music has taken. "The power of the Dragonflame will burn brighter than ever before," says guitarist/songwriter Luca Turilli. Keyboardist/songwriter Alex Staropoli adds, "The name Rhapsody of Fire better represents the energy that has always been present in this band and its music."
The band released Triumph or Agony, on September 25, 2006, in Europe. The second chapter in The Dark Secret Saga, Triumph or Agony, continues the bombastic Rhapsody of Fire tradition with a live 70-piece orchestra and choir as Turilli and Staropoli continued to self-produce the band's work with the assistance of co-producer Sascha Paeth. New songs include "Silent Dream", "Son of Pain" and the epic 16-minute-long "The Mystic Prophecy of the Demonknight", an example of a cinema soundtrack adapted to a metal song. In addition, vocalist Fabio Lione gave his songwriting debut for Rhapsody of Fire with the song "Il canto del vento".
In June 2008, Luca Turilli reported on the band's official website about a "hard legal fight with Magic Circle Music and his main representative Mr. Joey DeMaio". Since then, the band went on a hiatus for nearly a year and a half. Any studio or live activity was suspended for the period. Luca Turilli concentrated on his solo albums, Fabio Lione collaborated with Vision Divine and Kamelot, Alex Holzwarth collaborated with his brother Oliver, and Staropoli also announced his plans to record a solo album.
Final albums with Turilli, end of The Dark Secret Saga; split in two bands (2009–2011)
On November 18, 2009 it was announced that the band had signed with Nuclear Blast Records and that their new album, The Frozen Tears of Angels, would be released on March 5, 2010. However, Nuclear Blast stated that the album would not be released until April 30. On March 5, 2010 the official Rhapsody of Fire website announced that it would indeed be released on April 30. A new song was made available to download soon after. The album was produced by Luca Turilli and Alex Staropoli and mixed and mastered by Sascha Paeth at the Gate Studio in Wolfsburg. As well as the standard edition, it was released as a "special limited deluxe digipak" which included two bonus tracks and a 32-page booklet, and on vinyl.
A 35-minute EP entitled The Cold Embrace of Fear – A Dark Romantic Symphony was released in Europe on October 15, 2010 and in the United States on January 25, 2011. The story is directly connected to The Frozen Tears of Angels.
Rhapsody of Fire's eighth studio album, From Chaos to Eternity, was released on July 12, 2011. From Chaos to Eternity is the final album in the band's fantasy storyline, The Algalord Chronicles, which began with the release of Legendary Tales. It also marks the conclusion of The Dark Secret Saga, which began on Symphony of Enchanted Lands II: The Dark Secret. The final song on the album, the five-part "Heroes of the Waterfalls' Kingdom", is the band's longest, at almost twenty minutes long.
After the release of From Chaos to Eternity, the band underwent many line-up changes. On April 15, 2011 it was announced that Tom Hess had become Rhapsody of Fire's second guitarist. Hess had actually joined the band in December 2010, recording all the rhythm guitar parts and contributing several solos for From Chaos to Eternity. Hess began touring with the band starting in 2011.
On August 16, 2011, Rhapsody of Fire announced the friendly departure of long-time guitarist, songwriter and founding member Luca Turilli, along with bassist Patrice Guers. They went on to found a new Rhapsody band, Luca Turilli's Rhapsody. With the departure of Turilli, Tom Hess became the lead guitarist of the band. Oliver Holzwarth, brother of drummer Alex Holzwarth, was announced to be Guers' replacement on September 1, 2011. Soon after, on September 27, 2011, the band announced that Roby De Micheli had joined them as a second guitar player.
Continued line-up changes, parallel farewell tour (2012–2017)
The band embarked on their "From Chaos to Eternity World Tour" in the Spring of 2012. This tour was their largest yet, spanning three continents. Later that year, on December 11, 2012, the band signed with AFM Records. On May 3, 2013, a second live album was released, titled Live – From Chaos to Eternity, recorded during the European dates of their From Chaos to Eternity World Tour 2012.
In July 2013, Tom Hess respectfully parted ways with the band due to "philosophical differences" with Alex Staropoli. Hess would not be replaced, with the band continuing with just one guitarist. Recording for the band's next studio album, Dark Wings of Steel, also began in July 2013. Dark Wings of Steel was released at the end of the year and was the band's first album not to be based on the band's fantasy saga, The Algalord Chronicles, which spanned from Legendary Tales to From Chaos to Eternity. A European tour followed the release of the album.
Bassist Oliver Holzwarth left the band in August 2014. Alessandro Sala was announced as his replacement in June 2015, although he had joined the band a few months prior. Sala had previously been a bandmate of Roby De Micheli in the band Sinestesia.
Songwriting for a followup to Dark Wings of Steel began in the Fall of 2014. Album artwork and the track listings for the new album, titled Into the Legend, were revealed in November 2015. The album was released in January 2016.
After a short tour to promote the new album, Fabio Lione announced his departure on September 28, 2016. Drummer Alex Holzwarth also announced his departure on the band's Facebook page a couple of days later on October 9, 2016.
On November 21, 2016, former members Luca Turilli, Fabio Lione, Alex Holzwarth, Patrice Guers and Dominique Leurquin announced a Rhapsody "20th Anniversary Farewell Tour", in parallel to the current band. The tour celebrated the 20th anniversary of Rhapsody's first album Legendary Tales and featured, among other songs, the album Symphony of Enchanted Lands played in its entirety. The 20th Anniversary Farewell Tour started on April 26, 2017 in Annecy, France and ended on March 20, 2018 in Madrid, Spain.
On January 20, 2017, the band announced that their new album will be 14 classic Rhapsody songs re-recorded. The new album titled Legendary Years was announced on March 17, 2017 from the band's Facebook page. The album was released on May 26, 2017.
The new lineup performed for the first time at the Trieste Summer Rock Festival at the castle of San Giusto on July 29, 2017 in Trieste, Italy. Following after the new line-up's debut performance was a tour with Orden Ogan in the fall of 2017.
The Nephilim's Empire Saga (2018–present)
On March 14, 2018, the band had posted a narrative extract on their Facebook page, hinting that another album was being made.
The band had later revealed the title of their twelfth album The Eighth Mountain, as the first chapter of a new saga titled The Nephilim's Empire Saga on November 16, 2018. The album was released on February 22, 2019.
On April 6, 2020, Vocalist Giacomo Voli in an exclusive interview, had revealed that the band are currently working on their next album. Giacomo said, "This year we will record the new album and probably start already in the summer. At the end of the tour I will start working on the lyrics with Roby De Micheli because some songs are already in the pre-production phase so they can be released in the spring of next year. As for the development of the saga, we will continue to narrate the events of this strange protagonist who was able to get out of hell thanks to the Nephilim. There are many possible ways and we will see what will happen."
Rhapsody of Fire had announced that the recording of the album had been completed on September 24, 2020, and are now currently mixing and mastering the album with orchestral arrangements to be completed.
Former session musicians
- Legendary Tales (1997)
- Symphony of Enchanted Lands (1998)
- Dawn of Victory (2000)
- Rain of a Thousand Flames (2001)
- Power of the Dragonflame (2002)
- Symphony of Enchanted Lands II – The Dark Secret (2004)
- Triumph or Agony (2006)
- The Frozen Tears of Angels (2010)
- From Chaos to Eternity (2011)
- Dark Wings of Steel (2013)
- Into the Legend (2016)
- The Eighth Mountain (2019)
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