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Luca Turilli's solo project appeared to be just a Rhapsody spin-off when I heard the album "King of the Nordic Twilight". I like Rhapsody very much, and Luca Turilli was a slightly better variant on vocals, but you might have the feeling "been there, heard that". But then, when you listen to "Prophet of the Last Apocalypse", it's a complete, and pleasant, surprise!
First of all, a big difference with "King of the Nordic Twilight" and Rhapsody; the classical orchestra has been changed for more keyboardsounds. The intro "Aenigma" has a very cosmic sound, as if you were floating through a vast and empty intergalactic space, but this quickly changes and "War of the Universe" has a nice fast tempo, the guitars and keyboards together creating an image of a space battle, the likes of Star Wars. This sound is continued throughout the whole album.
One of the things I like about Luca Turilli, are the vocals. Olaf Hayer knows how to sing in English (a thing Rhapsody sometimes misses) and he has a very powerfull voice.
The choirs on this album are also very important, sometimes really dominating. They have a feminin sound, as if there were no men to sing. But it adds to the eery space sound, which is definitely a bonus. On "War of the Universe", the cosmic effect would have been decimated if these choirs weren't present.
When listening to "Prophet of the Last Eclipse", you get the feeling you're flying at near lightspeed. Most songs have a slower part, but there are only two songs that are on a low tempo. Which is fine. A cosmic album such as this one doesn't deserve to be slow, it would diminish the fly-through-space feeling. "Prince of the Starlight" and "Demonheart" are two fast-paced, powerfull songs that feel like hyperspace.
The Grand Finale, "Prophet of the Last Eclipse" is a song of nearly twelve minutes, which forms a magnificent end to the album. It has bits of all songs, meaning that is consists of different parts; an eery space choir, a sole female vocalist singing, very powerfull guitarriffs, ...
This album is a must for people who are looking for a different power metal; one without dragons, knights or evil dark knights. Fans of space opera will like the lyrical themes and be gratefull for the choirs and keyboards present on this masterpiece.
Every once in a while there is an album that is both utterly amazing and simultaneously able to capture an audience big enough so that it’s amazing nature is well known. Some albums that I’ve heard such as Maiden’s “Somewhere in Time”, Judas Priest’s “Painkiller”, and Black Sabbath’s “Heaven and Hell” are amongst these rather revolutionary yet well respected albums. While musically very different in nature than these albums, “Prophet of the Las Eclipse” provides a genuine step forward in the possibilities of the metal genre, much in the same way that those previous albums did. But above all else, it is an entertaining listen with plenty of songs that are listenable and stick in your head after the first listen.
Although quite different from the last solo effort “King of the Nordic Twilight”, the same strength of vocal accessibility is present. Olaf Hayer’s voice is cut from the more moderately operatic fold, in the same respect as Rob Halford but a good deal cleaner, which definitely seems to agree with more listeners. By contrast, Rhapsody/Ex-Vision Divine singer Fabio Lione who has a voice highly reminiscent of opera seria tenors, featuring an extremely wide voice vibrato on longer notes, almost to the point of sounding like 2 notes being trilled back and forth rapidly. For those of you out there who like Rhapsody’s brand of Neo-classical Power Metal but don’t like this style of singing, this album along with Luca’s last one feature something similar (the latter a lot more than the former) to that but with a more listener friendly voice. He shines throughout the entire album, but most particularly on “Prince of the Starlight” and “Timeless Oceans”.
The marriage of electronic music to Luca’s blend of Opera and Metal is apparent from the rather otherworldly sounding prelude “Aenigma”, which sounds like something that could be found on the Matrix soundtrack. Likewise, “War of the Universe”, “The Age of Mystic Ice” and “Demonheart” feature a large amount of electronic ambiences mixed in with Luca’s rather standardized approach to speed metal. The last of the three tracks listens a tiny bit similar to “Lord of the Winter Snow”, featuring a percussive sounding synthesizer intro and plenty of speed and vocal dynamics.
Other songs actually feature a lot of traits from the opposite end of the musical spectrum and bring a more folk/acoustic atmosphere to the mix. The most blatant is “New Century Tarantella”, which features an accordion, some mandolins and a woodland pan flute. It listens like the dance it is named for, sharing some similarities with the Polka and Tango styles. “Zaephr Skies’ Theme” has a lot of electronic percussive sounds, but the two driving forces that make for a beautiful atmosphere is the harp and the female solo voice. “Rider of the Astral Fire” features a middle vocal section that sounds like it was lifted off the Beetlejuice soundtrack, Luca obviously being a fan of Danny Elfman’s film music.
Despite all of the various extra instrumentations that have been added in to create this highly original and revolutionary sound, this is still primarily a metal album. We have plenty of solid guitar riffs and solos that take precedence at key points and keep the aggressive edge needed for the Power Metal genre. “Prince of the Starlight” definitely takes the cake for the most infectious riffs, and the guitar solo is short and simple, but highly memorable. “The Age of Mystic Ice” and “Demonheart” also feature decent solos, as Luca has not forgotten how to sweep pick his way into a technically impressive yet musical area.
For those out there who are in the market for a great album and who are willing to part with a few extra bucks, I highly recommend getting one of the special editions of this. I received the one with the 2 bonus tracks, of which “Dark Comet’s Reign” is another great speed metal classic that sounds a bit similar to material on the last solo effort, while the Andre Matos version of “Demonheart” features plenty of crazy high notes and impressive vocal acrobatics. But regardless, if you like your metal fast and melodic, this album is probably the best concept album out there in the Epic Power Metal genre save perhaps Blind Guardian’s “Nightfall on Middle Earth”. The music, like the riveting yet tragic story it depicts, is not of this world and will take you to an amazing place where drama and intrigue are the order of the day.
Time to do it right, isn’t it? Luca’s actually managed to switch the entire musical concept from that King of the Nordic Twilight album. Everything that was bad has been turned into a magnificent example of what he’d call Symphonic Cosmic Metal. Evolution, anyone? The fact that Prophet of the Last Eclipse follows two indifferent Rhapsody releases made it even more unpredictable.
Someone said that this was Turilli on LSD. Sure, he must’ve got quite a kick to write this. Let’s picture it. We’re far away from the / his usual fantasy landscape, no elves around here. Yet there’s an enclosing evil, epic battles, a brave knight and his sad love story. Yes, that’s far from close to his usual cheesiness. The artwork disturbs me a little though. A fat mechanical warrior with some light pulse weapon extracts blood from what’s supposed to be a demon. It’s strange. And strange is actually a word to keep in mind. Luca Turilli’s second solo album is really an odd piece.
Gone is the rock’n’roll base, gone is monotonous drumming, gone are sloppy vocals, gone are the excesses in keyboards, gone are video game soundtrack sound-alikes, gone is the strumming, gone is virtually everything that was bad. Prophet of the Last Eclipse is the opposite of bad. Prophet of the Last Eclipse is an amazing album. Influences from everywhere – Rossini and Italian folk for example, have been put together on a power metal platform to explore the boundaries of symphonic metal.
The drumming is varied, it’s dynamic, ever different yet rhythmical. Luca’s even let him experiment a little. There’s not an ounce of drum machine feeling on this one. Where Luca never showed what he was able to do with his guitar last time he now plays the ass off himself. That tarantella playing style of his is very interesting. It gives sweeping, innovative sounds. The vocals are better this time too. Olaf Hayer has an unique and extremely powerful, scratchy voice, and this time he outdoes himself. He’s in deed one of my favourite vocalists and while King of the Nordic Twilight was one of his worst attempts at singing (he was still great though), this is one of his best. That range, that power… It’s excellent. He has some skill too, for sure, but is yet fairly unpolished.
The female vocals have been placed further back from the microphone – or in the mix at least. They don’t have a place as prominent as before, and overall more choirs have been introduced. There’s one thing that hasn’t changed though: The keyboards are still in the foreground. Fortunately they are way better and more tasteful this time. From being a repetitive and necessary mean to cover up for the rotten tier of beams they’ve become an interesting part of a splendid sound picture. Quite a change. The cheap ping-pong effects are no more.
Now they’re a mean of atmosphere as well as rhythm and melody. Their sweeping elegance adds feeling to it – and an occasional strange sound effect. They are the mean to provide the “cosmicness” that this album possesses. They picture everything from the happy calm before the storm, the destruction and the havoc. It’s amazing what you can show (or what that Miro guy can show) using his bloody synths! Especially since he was lousy last time I heard anything from him.
But they aren’t the only foreground layer. The orchestrations, the string arrangements, they are pretty prominent too. They are done just as tastefully but aren’t as varied or conveying as the keyboards. The production is excellent, although rhythm guitars and bass has been lost somewhere back there in the mix… Not too big of a loss seeing that the “visible” parts kick buttocks. Highly recommended.
It’s finally here. Three years after the release of his first solo work, KING OF THE NORDIC TWILIGHT (which I prefer even to Rhapsody’s amazing catalog), PROPHET OF THE LAST ECLIPSE, the second solo album by Rhapsody’s mastermind Luca Turilli has arrived. Fans of Rhapsody as well as Luca’s solo debut, KING OF THE NORDIC TWILIGHT will know exactly what to expect from this album. The lineup stays the same with Luca on guitars; Olaf Hayer: vocals; Miro: Keys; Sascha Paeth: Bass; Robert Hunecke-Rizzo: Drums. Again, as on KotNT, Sascha and Miro handle production duties.
The result? Luca calls his latest work “Symphonic Cosmic Metal,” a description that is right on target. PROPHET OF THE LAST ECLIPSE is a concept album set in the future, and Luca has incorporated a number of spacey/futuristic synths and effects on this album to create a sound that could easily fit as the soundtrack to a computer game or sci-fi movie.
“War Of The Universe” starts the album off following a typical Rhapsody-style intro. The song is full of sweeping power, and it sets the theme for the rest of the album to come. “Rider Of The Astral Fire” carries along in the same vein before winding down into the first atmospheric movement of the album, “Zaephyr Skies’ Theme.” Amanda Somerville provides the vocals on this track; her voice is soft and delicate. I could continue to detail each song one by one, but my words cannot describe in detail the sheer force and epic nature of this album. Luca put everything in his repertoire into this album. Every note on the album fits seamlessly together; soaring leads, bombastic choirs, operatic female vocals, and thundering double-bass kicks jump out and hook the listener at every turn.
The closing three tracks on this album eclipse (no pun intended) even the excellent first half of the album. “Demonheart” is a slightly more beefed-up version of the track that appeared on the EP teaser by the same name. I find the drums and solos on “Demonheart” to be exceptional. This is one of the best tracks that Luca Turilli has ever written. The choirs on the chorus simultaneously send chills up my spine and almost bring tears to my eyes. You must hear this song to believe its sheer power!
“New Century’s Tarantella” deviates from the futuristic theme of the album in favour of a folk-metal song combining the Italian tarantella (with accordion), Peruvian wood flutes, and Luca’s unique metal style. The concept behind this song is brilliant, and its inclusion on the album becomes clear when one reads the lyrics and associated storyline. Closing the album is the title track, an epic nearly twelve minutes in length. This epic musically sums up nearly all of PROPHET OF THE LAST ECLIPSE.
In addition to the excellent musicianship on the album, Olaf Hayer’s vocals make the album truly special. Olaf’s voice is perfectly suited for this type of metal; he has a great vocal range and can sing with power throughout it. Truly, he is one of the best vocalists in the power metal genre today. In addition, Rannveig Sif Sigurdardottir, who exclusively performed the female vocals on KING OF THE NORDIC TWILIGHT, returns to perform backing vocals and a solo on the album’s title track. My only complaint is that Rannveig does not have more parts on this album; her voice is very rich and beautiful.
The version I have is the limited edition book, which comes in a beautiful hardbound book-styled case, and in addition to the lyrics, contains liner notes of Luca’s comments regarding each song. The album also has two bonus tracks, “Dark Comet’s Reign,” and the EP version of “Demonheart” with Andre Matos (Angra) on vocals. While his performance does not compare to Olaf’s, it is still an interesting track.
Luca Turilli delivers another excellent album with PROPHET OF THE LAST ECLIPSE. I cannot fairly compare this album with Rhapsody’s catalog, nor even with Luca’s first solo album, but as far as my personal preferences go, both Luca Turilli solo albums are superior to Rhapsody’s entire catalog. This album is going to strike into my top 5 for the year for sure. Power metal fans should not miss this one!
(originally written by me for www.metal-rules.com, December, 2002)
For those familiar with Luca Turilli's work, you know that he likes his music big, huge, bombastic, and sweeping in composition - which is both a turn off for some metal fans and the reason a good deal of his audience is rabid about his work. Love or hate his material, one would have a hard time denying the strength of his melodic sense and compositions, along with the fact that throughout his career he has kept upping the ante, making the music bigger and bigger and bigger.......
And then, there was Prophet of the Last Eclipse.
On this, Luca's second solo album, the sound has gone so through the roof it can barely even be seen anymore. This is big, this is powerful, this is in your face, but this is also stretching a few boundaries of what can even be called metal...rather, the music on Prophet of the Last Eclipse sounds like a hyperactive symphony from outer space, with a metal band guesting to back it up. There are almost 30 choir members on the album, in 4 seperate choirs, along with the String Quintet of Hamburg, Germany, plus a timpani player. Add to this Luca's normal guitar/bass/drums/keyboards/vocals band and his brand of epic composing, and you have one of the biggest and most pompous albums to come out since.. well, the last Rhapsody release actually. But this may be even more giant sounding, and the best thing about it is; it's of the same quality.
Prophet of the Last Eclipse is a conceptual work, telling an odd story revolving around love and apocalyptic prophecy on a distant planet. While not on the same level as a successful author's material, Luca manages to craft a short and interesting, as well as even a bit original (for science fiction), tale.
The album is also a nice evolution in Luca Turilli's sound in ways; first, as aforementioned, the album sounds like a symphony with a metal band as opposed to a metal band with a symphony. In the booklet, it's learned that Luca restrained himself guitarwise on this album in order to let the compositions and the classical instrumation come through a lot more. For this, he gains extra respect from me and what's good is that contrary to what most people would fear, the music is actually enhanced by a little less guitar. There are never any guitar parts battling with string parts for volume or attention, or any loose ends on the album, every part of the huge arrangements is placed within the songs tastefully and professionally. Although, once in a while the rhythm guitar work can get a bit lost in the large mix, but it doesn't detract a great amount - that's how big the orchestration is here. Second, there is now a good amount of a surprising element added to this music - an electronic influence ranging from techno-esque to dark and ambient....something of a crash course in awkwardness or metal suicide in print, yet on this album the new electronic elements are placed absolutely without flaw, meshing perfectly with the choirs, strings, and metal guitars and drums. This becomes apparent as soon as Aenigma, the album intro, hits with a dark sounding programmed beat that soon melts into one with the sounds and rhythms of the European Renaissance-era styled choir. After 2 minutes, the intro explodes into War of the Universe, an excellent speedy song with great vocals from Olaf Hayer and a shredding, aggressive violin/cello riff. Yes, that's 'violin/cello riff', and it shreds well right along with the thunderous drumwork and subtle little synth bleeps and bloops underneath the verses. Nice melodic guitar solo from Luca here as well. Next is Rider of the Astral Fire, where the creativity of the sound and Turilli's sense of melody really start to create some huge sparks. Excellent programming, rhythm guitar riffs, and even a good use of a children's choir can be found here. The first minute of the song is also sheer melodic brilliance, with a slow, pulsing, and dark intro building up to a galloping and positively glorious sounding viola/violin harmony with a heavy riff underpinning, taking a breather with some light keys before going into the first verse. Fantastic. Zaephyr Skies' Theme is a slower, ballad like instrumental with a gentle electronic pulse and some beautiful female vocalizations. Another major high point is the album's single, Demonheart, with some menacing programming, slashing guitar work, and an unbelievable chorus punctuated by a powerfully contrasting choir. New Century's Tarentella is another good showcase of the album's creativity, being a power-metalized rendition of classical Italian tarentella style music, though lacking a bit in the overall songwriting department. The album closer, the epic title track, is nothing short of stunning in parts and though with some weak links in the middle section, is a fitting climax for the album. Starting with the same Renaissance-styled choir heard singing in Aenigma, the song soon morphs into a ball of pure intensity, fading into a fanatical keyboard part and bursting into a crushingly heavy double bass drum attack, layered with orchestral strikes and a Latin-chanting male choir that brings almost frightening shivers. The verses also work well, after the song slows to mid pace, the female vocal in the middle part after the almost gothic keyboards is perfect, and the song closes with the same intense opening which slows down to a final, peaceful sounding Latin verse by the choir.
Overall this is one of the best, truly symphonic metal releases around. There is a track or two hindered by weaker songwriting, such as Timeless Oceans which has a few awkward melodies, and the album can also tend to give off a feeling of wanting more, but this is an album more than worthy of attention if you're not put off by the amount of symphonic elements involved. Superb.