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I'll admit it -- I went to my local FYE, quite giddy to purchase this album. Giddy to spend my time and money on this album. Who could blame me -- it was Luca Turilli, trying something new, and it had female vocals! Sure, I'd scoff at this idea normally, but this was Luca we were talking about; he couldn't possibly go wrong with the band, right?
Wrong. As promising and enjoyable as his other solo work had been, this really took the cake for the worst album I've heard all year. One of the ways Luca went wrong was in abandoning his guitar. Through the first three tracks, I hoped I would hear something more than cheesy Nightwish-esque minor arpeggios. Sadly, I was never rewarded with anything more than this. No keyboard-driven songs, no relatively interesting synth-riffs. As you could imagine, this made the guitars even sadder to listen to. Although not bad, they pale in comparison to the guitar work in Luca's other solo projects where he, you know, actually plays the instrument he was born to man.
I also mentioned female vocals. I am an advocate of amazing metal female vocalists, and a strong opposition to that of the run-of-the-mill Tarja-clone singers that've been popping up over the past 7 years or so. One thing I do enjoy about this album is the vocals. Myst [her identity hasn't been revealed to the public for whatever reason] is actually a very talented vocalist. It almost reminds me of After Forever when I hear her voice, especially in songs where she shines -- namely "Virus" and "Energy." Sadly, there are some points where she attempts to do some "operatic" stuff -- and it's some of the funniest stuff I've ever heard. Seriously. Listen to the Italian song on the album; you'll know what I mean. It's like early Simone Simons' [Epica] gone even more wrong.
The only song I find relatively interesting would be "Virus," basically, because it's catchy as all hell and the false choir doesn't sound as overused and unnecessary as in other songs. As for everything else, the songwriting falls flat. Pancake flat. The chord progressions are strange and uncomfortable, the melodies just don't go anywhere at all [and not in a prog-rock way], not to mention the lyrics are horridly pathetic... like, 13-year trying to write poetry about dreams and philosophy. ohIt makes me want to bop dear Luca over the head with his own ballpoint pen.
So, I implore you, if you're looking for some work by Mr. Turilli, please, check out his other solo work and Rhapsody. This is by no means any good metal album at all. It is, sadly, a cheesy, trend-ridden unfinished piece of work.
The first common point between Luca Turilli and Tobias Sammet is they’ve both been seriously getting on my nerves for the last couple of years. The second one is they’ve both played in bands which have been at one point fairly decent power metal acts, but are going downhill faster and faster nowadays. Eventually, as said bands were going downhill both men got more and more involved in idiotic, useless, but so ego-satisfying solo projects. Just look: it’s LUCA TURILLI’S Dreamquest exactly the same way it’s TOBIAS SAMMET’S Avantasia.
So, while Rhapsody haven’t released anything worthwhile since Dawn of Victory in 2000 (yes, it was already seven years ago), Mr Turilli has never been so productive. It’s not a single bit surprising, as each of his releases sound exactly the same. As astonishing as it may seem, this Dreamquest managed to sound similar to recent Rhapsody, similar to Turilli’s solo band (I’ve not and certainly won’t listen to his last outfit, but I’ve listened to Prophet of the Last Eclipse), in spite of the predominant keyboards and the female vocals. Why? Turilli may have changed the instruments but the melodies remain the same, the patterns remain the same, the key remains the same, the overall slightly lively mid tempo remains the same, the use of choirs and orchestrations remain the same. Only the lyrics differ, but they’re not much more interesting, and guess what? There’s the obligatory song in Italian of course, as always failed attempt at third-grade opera.
And, most important, the SOUND atrociously remains the same. ARTIFICIAL. Far to clean to be honest, in fact. I don’t mind clear productions, but this one is over-the-top clear, if this does make sense, in other words so polished this release loses any kind of personality. As it’s supposed to be a gothic album, one would have expected a slightly misty sound with for instance muffled down drums, oppressing bass and raspy guitars, all dusted with awkward electronics. Instead of this the bass here is inexistent, the drums are triggered and all the instruments oddly seem to have been deprived of their low range. As a result everything seems flattened, standardized, mainstream-formatted and atrociously heartless.
Leaving the sound apart, the musicians’ performance is stunningly heartless as well. Even Turilli himself seems to be only remotely involved, as if this album was nothing more than another necessary chore to earn a bit more money (and what if it indeed were, after all?). When the guitars are present it’s only for a standard Malmsteen-inspired shredding solo which has already been beaten to death. Let’s be fair: Luca is a very good guitarist, in fact far better as guitarist than composer. But for the 243rd time, he could easily have copied his solos from any previous Rhapsody release no one would have noticed the difference. Coming to keyboard lines, which constitute the core of the work, they’re from the beginning to the end clichéd and predictable, and in spite of this terribly lack of any catchiness. I’ve listened to this album several times, trying to pay attention to it, and only the beginning of the title track managed to stick in my head... the irony being it might be the most disco-inspired (!) part of the whole release!
Then there is the singer. Ah. She doesn’t want to reveal her identity, and she’s well-advised to do so. In the light of some off-key radio-sounding passages the idea struck me it could be my beloved Sharon den Adel (a picture of whom I should consider buying... to throw darts on it when I’m bored), but the rumour it’s Floor Jansen could be true as well, considering how much the track Too Late evokes After Forever’s Forlorn Hope. Nevermind, they both overall suck, and are exchangeable, as they’re also exchangeable with the chick from Epicrap I don’t even remember the name. In other words it’s the kind of high-pitched pop-ish voices which gave gothic metal a bad name – sorry, it’s NOT gothic metal, Suckin’ Temptation isn’t gothic metal and Lost Horizons isn’t either. Actually it well sums up to Rhapsody deprived of all of its most metal elements to retain only all the synthetic, artificial garbage.
Lost Horizons is thus from the beginning to the end empty and disposable, but I’ve to admit it didn’t make my ears completely bleed either. St Anger did, Slipknot did, Goth Romance did, Headline did (if you don’t know these last two bands, don’t try to), but this didn’t. It might still be used as background music, though I still have to find a chore which could fit with such insipid background music. However it at least served to confirm the following: Alex Staropoli was Rhapsody’s mastermind in the good old days, and as soon as Turilli began to extend his hegemony upon the band the end came near – as this man’s inspiration is pretty limited.
Highlights: er... Lost Horizons maybe?
First of this is not power metal. It is closer to the lighter end of symphonic metal, very close to the Dutch scene in sound and certainly not as dark and involving as the Scandinavian gothic metal scene. It’s quite slow but not depressing; it walks a line between uplifting and slightly melancholy, whilst always being shamelessly melodramatic and romantic. The influence of Luca’s favourite band, Nightwish, is very clear.
The album’s highlight are the extremely strong and charismatic female vocals singing many of the most powerful vocal lines and catchy chorus I have ever heard. Almost every song on this album reverberates in the head after the first listen. Luca’s Keyboards are also excellent, with atmospheric electronica inspired parts and extremely epic classical inspired melodies. The inclusion of Eastern melodies and vocals in songs such as Kyoto’s Romance and Lost Horizons are fantastically beautiful.
The weakness in this otherwise perfect album is the weak metal side; though the solos are perfectly good (they are not as frequent as Luca’s other work) there are no guitar riffs of any real note. The rhythm section is competent but hardly special. These flaws are largely forgotten in the splendour of the keyboards and vocals but they keep the album from being just about perfect.
A must have for any fan of female fronted symphonic metal, especially After Forever and Nightwish. If you are into Luca’s other projects for the speed and virtuosity, steer well away.
Luca Turilli has been probably the busiest composer the metal movement has seen in a long while, having 10 full length studio releases in 10 years, and now successfully juggling 3 separate projects. Dreamquest is the latest of his conceptions and the most stylistically removed from his Rhapsody work, lacking the speed elements of the former and being heavily oriented towards keyboard and vocal work. It carries some commonality with the marriage of electronic music and his more traditional symphonic tendencies as found on his solo release “Prophet of the Last Eclipse”, although the tempo of the songs tend to be slower as was the case with 3rd solo release “The Infinite Wonder of Creations”, and flirts with a more Gothic lyrical approach.
The guitar on here is mostly a support instrument, relying on heavily simplistic riffs meant to bolster the sound of the whole. Guitar solos on here are few in number, but when they are present former Dreamchild axe man Dominique Leurquin proves to be just as technically able as Luca. The songs “Dreamquest”, “Kyoto’s Romance” and bonus track “Gothic Vision” contain the bulk of the lead work on here, and their infrequency tends to work to their advantage and give them twice the power that would normally be felt on a more guitar oriented Rhapsody song. Most of the other occasional lead breaks are usually short and sparsely placed upon more Neo-Classical oriented tracks such as “Frozen Star” and “Shades of Eternity”.
The vocals on here are the principle focus of this album, which was the case with Luca’s last solo effort, but here the music and the voice meld together better and the songs have been shortened to keep them from growing tiresome. Many have speculated as to who the vocalist is on here, as her voice is quite operatic, yet also seems well suited to the rock/metal genre at times. Some speculate that it is After Forever’s Floor Jansen, while a Myspace account under the Dreamquest states that the singer is Bridget Fogle, who has worked much with Luca in the past with both Rhapsody and his solo project
The various influences that Luca draws upon for the songs on here is highly varied, but mostly falls into the typical categories that he has previously cited as inspiring past works with Rhapsody and his solo project. “Virus”, which was also the albums single, sounds like an outtake from the Matrix Revolutions movie soundtrack with a more accessible song structure and a more organized keyboard theme. “Dreamquest” and “Gothic Vision” are the most up tempo and are drawn from the better parts of Luca Turilli’s uninspired solo effort “The Infinite Wonders of Creation”. “Black Rose” and “Shades of Eternity” have a more Gothic Metal tinge to them, and end up sounding like a hybrid of Nightwish’s later work and Tristania.
Although I did enjoy this album, it does carry a lot of the same musical elements that turned Rhapsody and Luca Turilli fans off to “The Infinite Wonders of Creation”. We have a bit more guitar activity on here than on that rather lackluster release, but there is nothing on here resembling speed metal. Fans of Gothic Metal and more electronically oriented music will probably like this, as will fans of more Progressive Metal outfits. If you are unsure of whether or not to spend some of your hard earned money on this release, picture a slower version of “Prophet of the Last Eclipse” and then ask yourself if speed is a vital component to your enjoying the album. If it is then obviously spend your money elsewhere, but if not then it will definitely be worth it.