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Rhapsody Of Fire

Formed by guitarist Luca Turilli and keyboardist Alex Staropoli, Rhapsody of Fire is an Italian band who pioneered the symphonic power metal subgenre by using massive classical orchestration and choirs alongside rock instrumentation. Formerly known as Rhapsody, Rhapsody of Fire was created as a quintet during the late '90s. Provocatively, their first four albums -- 1997's Legendary Tales, 1998's Symphony of Enchanted Lands, 2000's Dawn of Victory, and 2002's Power of the Dragonflame -- were all part of a conceptually linked, mythical song cycle dubbed The Emerald Sword Saga that, in turn, initiated the multi-volume The Algalord Chronicles. Its second cycle, The Dark Secret Saga, was initiated by 2004's Symphony of Enchanted Lands, Vol. 2: Dark Secret, and continued with 2006's Triumph or Agony utilizing a 70-piece orchestra and choir. The final part of the Algalord cycle began with 2010's The Frozen Tears of Angels, continued with the 35-minute EP The Cold Embrace of Fear: A Dark Romantic Symphony at the end of the year, and concluded with 2011's From Chaos to Eternity closing out the Dark Secret Saga. In the aftermath, Turilli amicably parted ways with the band, initiating a period of lineup changes. 2016's Dark Wings of Steel marked Rhapsody of Fire's first standalone album. In 2018, they issued The Eighth Mountain, initiating The Nephilim's Empire Saga; it was extended on the I'll Be Your Hero EP in June 2021, and the full-length Glory for Salvation that followed later that year. Rhapsody of Fire began life as Thundercross in 1993. Turilli decided to create a symphonic metal band with the vision of integrating major elements from classical music with metal. The first to join him were drummer Daniele Carbonera and keyboardist/composer/arranger Alex Staropoli. In order to better reflect the conceptual narrative aesthetic they'd decided to pursue, they changed their name to Rhapsody before issuing the 35-minute, seven-song demo Eternal Glory in 1995 with bassist Andrea Furlan and vocalist Cristiano Adacher. By the time they released their debut full-length, 1997's conceptual Legendary Tales (kicking off both The Emerald Sword Saga and The Algalord Chronicles), Furlan and Adacher had left the band, and classically trained vocalist Fabio Lione (Labyrinth) had assumed the microphone. The album, produced in Germany by Sascha Paeth -- who also contributed bass parts -- incorporated classical music, Baroque, and heavy metal styles in a subgenre the band called "film score metal," reflecting the music's similarities to various movie soundtracks. 1998's Symphony of Enchanted Lands extended the cycle and marked the debut of bassist Alessandro Lotta as well as the final date for Carbonera. While 1999 proved quiet for Rhapsody, Turilli and Lione each released solo outings. After completing their first tour, Rhapsody entered the studio with Paeth and recorded Dawn of Victory. The role for orchestra and choir had been expanded to better reflect the band's ambitious aesthetic. It landed at number four on the Japanese charts and precipitated Rhapsody's first tours of South America and Europe. In 2000, Rain of a Thousand Flames was an introductory, 42-minute EP that preceded charting fourth album Dawn of Victory, which in turn narratively and musically foreshadowed the conclusion of The Emerald Sword Saga. It included narration by Sir Jay Lansford, the Helmstedt Kammerchoir, violinist Maggie Ardorf, and Baroque opera singer Constanze Backes. It also marked the debut appearance of unidentified drummer Thunderforce. The release was globally celebrated for its epic vision and sonic bombast. Lotta left after the tour and it was left to Paeth to once more play the bass parts on 2002's Power of the Dragonflame. The set concluded The Emerald Sword Saga and garnered the most consistently positive reviews of any of the band's releases to date. Further, it extended The Algalord Chronicles into the next saga. Before the ensuing tour, Rhapsody hired drummer Alex Holzwarth and bassist Patrice Guers. In 2004, Rhapsody issued The Dark Secret, a five-track EP that initiated The Dark Secret Saga narrative. It featured guest narration by actor Christopher Lee, the Bohuslav Martinů Philharmonic Orchestra, the Brno Academy Choir, and various classical soloists. It also featured second guitarist Dominique Leurquin, who had been part of the touring ensemble since 2000. It was followed just months later by Symphony of Enchanted Lands, Vol. 2: Dark Secret. Recorded at the same time, it included the same extended lineup as the preceding EP (in addition to narration, Lee also sang with Lione in the song "The Magic of the Wizard's Dream"). Critics remarked on its more progressive nature, while the band claimed it their heaviest outing to date. Their touring dates across Europe sold out in minutes and they played bigger festival stages than ever before. The following year, the band was forced to change its name (due to copyright issues with the corporation of the same name) and chose Rhapsody of Fire. With the arrival of their next album, 2006's Triumph or Agony, fans discovered that nothing else had changed about the elaborately conceived, progressive, and Baroque power metal unit. The second chapter in The Dark Secret Saga, Triumph or Agony, employed a live 70-piece orchestra and choir; Turilli and Staropoli self-produced the work with assistance from co-producer Paeth. They signed to Nuclear Blast for the ambitious Frozen Tears of Angels, the third chapter in The Dark Secret Saga; it was followed by the 35-minute EP The Cold Embrace of Fear: A Dark Romantic Symphony. Both the saga and The Algalord Chronicles concluded with 2011's From Chaos to Eternity, a set that saw the band's lineup expanded with the addition of rhythm guitarist Tom Hess and Leurquin. It also included Lee as well as five other narrators. The long-player marked the amicable departure of co-founder Turilli and bassist Guers. They formed the group Luca Turilli's Rhapsody, and in agreement with Staropoli, shared Rhapsody's history as their own until they split. Hess briefly took over as lead guitarist, and Alex Holzwarth's brother Oliver was recruited as Guers' replacement. Roby De Micheli joined the band as its only guitarist at the end of September, replacing Hess. Rhapsody of Fire embarked on the From Chaos to Eternity World Tour in the spring of 2012. Their largest and longest, it spanned three continents. In December the band signed with AFM Records and in May of 2013, Live: From Chaos to Eternity was issued. It was recorded during the European segment of their world tour. Later that year, the new incarnation of Rhapsody of Fire issued Dark Wings of Steel. It was the group's first album to stand on its own outside of The Algalord Chronicles. Despite the absence of Turilli's iconic neoclassical metal guitar playing, the set sold extremely well and charted higher than any of their previous outings. In August, bassist Oliver Holzwarth left the band and was replaced by Alessandro Sala in early 2015. Sala had previously played with De Micheli in Sinestesia. In January 2016, Into the Legend appeared with new drummer Manu Lotter. Though universally well received --Staropoli's compositions were at least as well-loved as Turilli's -- after a short, exceptionally well-received promotional tour, Lione and Alex Holzwarth left the band in September. Two months later, Turilli, Lione, Guers, Leurquin, and Alex Holzwarth announced a Rhapsody of Fire 20th Anniversary Farewell Tour for 2017, in parallel with the current edition of Staropoli's band. The tour began in April of 2017, and the band's former members performed both Legendary Tales; and Symphony of Enchanted Lands. The year-long performances ended in March of 2018. Meanwhile, Staropoli was busy recruiting new members for Rhapsody of Fire. His hired vocalist Giacomo Voli and drummer Manu Lotter. They made their studio debuts on 2017's Legendary Years, that featured re-recordings of notable tracks from their Rhapsody years. They made their debut as a headliner at Trieste Summer Rock Festival in July, followed by a tour with Orden Ogan that fall. In March of 2018, Rhapsody of Fire announced on their Facebook page that they had composed the album The Eighth Mountain as the first chapter in The Nephilim's Empire Saga. Released on February 22, 2019, its lyrics were co-written by Voli and De Micheli and narrated the circumstances of its protagonist escaping hell with assistance from the Nephilim. Though Lee had passed in 2015, the set still carried some of his narration, left over from a writing session with Staropoli. During the quarantine of 2020, Lotter announced his departure from Rhapsody of Fire. He was replaced by Paolo Marchesich. To coincide with the announcement of the personnel change, Staropoli also announced the completion of an album. In June 2021, Rhapsody of Fire released the eight-song, 40-minute EP I'll Be Your Hero as an introduction to the concepts explored on the full length Glory for Salvation released later that year.
© Thom Jurek /TiVo


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