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Trying to Mix Bach with Wagner. - 58%

hells_unicorn, February 14th, 2007

Luca Turilli has been one of my favorite musicians of late, exemplifying the work ethic that many successful Metal musicians lack, a rigorous work ethic and frequent releases for fan consumption. The annoying phenomenon of all these different hybrid metal styles that he has individually coined is well known and is a consequence of constantly shifting influences, most particularly with his solo work. But his greatest strength has also proven to be his greatest weakness on this release, as his large well of ideas has reached so far that his attempts at constantly reinventing self has led him astray.

The primary problem with “The Infinite Wonders of Creation” has little to do with the speed or lack of presence of Olaf Hayer’s vocals (though these are definitely flaws in the release that are right to be addressed as they are symptoms of this deeper issue) but with the contradictory set of musical inspirations employed. I expected this release to be radically different from “Prophet of the Last Eclipse”, just as I expected that one to be different from its predecessor, but I expected it to make musical sense. The principle influence present here is not the usual Neo-Classical maestros such as Bach, Beethoven, Paganini, and opera composer Verdi (who was probably pretty influential on Rhapsody’s sound) but that of Richard Wagner. Although Wagner is widely influential in the general metal community, how his music has been an influence has been less a matter of musicality and more of the subject matters of the various Libretto’s that he has for his Music Dramas, namely the Ring Cycle.

Wagner’s Music Dramas, in my unchanging opinion, are an utter bore fest and are musically defined by melodies that meander and a confused sense of tonality. The chord structures of Tristan and Isolde, which I hear greatly when I listen to this album, are particularly plagued by a sense of aimless wandering, not progressing but phasing in and out of intelligibility and somehow accidentally arriving at a destination that eventually alleviates the listener of his confusion. The prelude “Secrets of Forgotten Ages” (which is way too long and over-developed for a prelude/overture) and the epic title track that closes the album are the worse offenders, but there are traces of this sort of chord change meandering in several other tracks. Suffice to say, the same reason why this album hasn’t fared well with fans is probably the same reason why Nazism didn’t last, the anthems they chose as their theme music was dreadfully un-listenable.

Now, unlike those who have bashed this album intensely, I don’t see this album as a complete throw away, but it is definitely not something that I can qualify as great, or really very good. What I expect when I listen to a Luca Turilli album is to be able to listen to the whole thing without getting bored, and on this release I only counted 5 tracks that I enjoyed and would want to listen to again. Although I am a rather avid fan of orchestral and classical music, having a bombastic Wagnerian orchestra behind you alone does not impress me, particularly if you don’t have songs worthy of the instrumentation.

Of the songs found on here there are some examples that have enough remnants of Luca’s Baroque era influences to counter Wagner’s bastard presence on this album. “Miracle of Life” and “Mystic and Divine” have the most powerful choruses, and though they lack speed they make up for it with a triumphant melody and a driving backdrop in the guitars and bass. “Pyramids and Stargates” makes good use of a more eastern set of ideas, particularly music found in Egypt and the Middle East, and has a top notch vocal performance from both Olaf and Bridget Fogle. “Angels of the Winter Dawn” has a nice simple theme and a good guitar presence, not to mention a slight tinge towards music found on the “King of the Nordic Twilight” release. “Cosmic Revelation” carries a lot of remnants from “Prophet of the Last Eclipse”, though it is far too slow to have made it onto that album.

All the rest of the stuff on here has some serious problems that disqualify it from being a quality song, although certain moments within the some of these songs are not bad. “Mother Earth” has no discernable chorus, it’s essentially a vocal display from start to finish, but it does have an excellent guitar solo. “Altitudes” and “Silver Moon” have good vocal work on them, but the songs themselves meander around and are basically devoid of any hooks or exceptional moments.

Although the musical content of this CD is clearly confused as to whether it’s a Neo-Classical Power Metal Album or a Wagner Drama, the lyrical content on here is where Luca really loses me. His words contain a philosophical statement, articulating a sense of incredulity towards the universe and a sort of confused mish mash of Existentialism and Romanticism. Picture Kierkegaard and William Blake having a debate about whether the universe is either controlled by powers beyond our comprehension or if powers beyond our comprehension control the universe. This makes Timo Tolkki’s lyrics about his various philosophical caprices sound like intelligent thought.

To fans of Rhapsody and Luca Turilli’s previous works, this is not the same band nor is it the same music. If you like classical music and Wagner ranks as one of your favorites, you may be taken in by this, I am not. If you like Speed, there is none to be found here. If you like Olaf’s singing style, he’s only on 4 of the songs on this release. Basically, if you like Luca Turilli as he’s been up until now, you won’t like this. Although I’m tempted to give it a lower score, there are some redeeming moments on here so I’ll simply say that if you don’t want to take my word for it, at least shop for it at $7 or less. I can not nor will I ever condone any fan of Power Metal paying full price for this.

What a horrible follow-up to 'Prophets'... - 15%

DaggersAndIce, June 28th, 2006

This year has so far been rather disappointing for metal releases, with many mediocre releases by quite promising bands or just straight up disappointing records. The reviews of this record have been pretty much all positive, and everyone talking about the album seems to enjoy it... So out of everyone on my meager list of artists that I listen to a lot, Luca Turilli was the last person that I expected to release a poor album. It is pretty disappointing to see another artist live up to the power metal stereotype of releasing a couple of excellent albums and then start churning out boring, slower tempo records that have very little lasting power.

The introduction track delivers quite nicely and is, in my opinion, one of the best introduction tracks featured on any Rhapsody or Luca Turilli record. It paints a picture of a rather dark and sinister setting, and for the first three and half minutes I was excited that we'd finally find out what happened the world of Zaephyr and Arkan. Was Zaephyr spared? What was that white light that Arkan was surrounded by? With the fading notes of the introduction, I was bracing myself for what was soon to come, would it be a speedy and aggressive power metal track in the vein of Rhapsody (like Black Dragon from 'King...')? Or would we be treated with another extremely catchy track with a big sing along chorus? Unfortunately, I was severely disappointed with a Nightwish inspired track. Sure, the backing is rather epic, but the song itself is a snoozer with predictable changes and really nothing interesting. On top of it all, this track sets the stage for the rest of the very slow and repetative album.

Bridget Fogle delivers a decent performance but her vocals aren't really that pleasing. She sounds more like a soul music type singer a lot of the time, and her vocals contrast too much with Olaf Hayer's - especially when they sing at the same time. Olaf's performance, unfortunately, is very weak. If he was singing as powerfully as he did on Prophet Of The Last Eclipse', this album would be a little bit more interesting to me. I've read interviews that he was sick during the making of this album, so he couldn't hit his high notes and they had to bring in Bridget to replace him on a lot of the main vocals.

The real problem with this album lies in the blandness of the guitar riffs and slow / simplistic drumming. Luca either wanted to write a very slow record or decided to start using all his epic and speedy songs with Rhapsody. Drumming wise, Robert Hunecke Rizzo was restricted to slower beats and doesn't even make use of his speedy double kick drum technique. The keyboard work, as always, is superb, this time handled by Luca himself. I think that if Luca would've spent more time focusing in on guitars instead of keyboards, perhaps this record would be much more interesting. I've yet to hear Dreamquest (and what I've been told is that it is more of the Nightwish inspired metal) but I really hope that it is more interesting and powerful than this mediocre album

Overall the album is just very boring, slow, and not very epic. The whole record plods along delivering track after track of halfway interesting music. There never is any speedy or kick ass tracks throughout the entire record. The Miracle Of Life, Mother Nature, and Cosmic Revelation (I keep expecting it to take off but it never does) are probably the best tracks overall on the record, but that isn't saying much. Where are the rest of the catchy songs? Where's the speed? Where are those triumphant moments? Obviously they're not on this boring record.

Bottom line: A couple of decent tracks, overall nothing really noteworthy / purchase-worthy.

Maturing at last - 95%

wyvern, May 21st, 2006

I hate Rhapsody, no seriously they represent part of what is bad and cheesy with power metal and metal in general.

Then why I'm buying stuff from Luca Turilli then? Because the guys from Heavens Gate where playing in it, and I love those Germans (sadly departed).

So yes I got into Luca's solo material and being cheesy as can be and frankly very Rhapsofish to my ears I dug it. So imagine my surprise when I finally checked the last album, a lot of the cheese is gone, the female vocals are great: measured, deep, emotional without the grunts of a Gossow or the operatic Tarja (which I love and miss btw), a very different approach of female vocals which I embraced immediately. I would had her singing in all the songs but Olaf is still there, oh well he's not that bad.

The keys are more measured and by courtesy of Luca himself and i'm surprised i was expecting a keyboard drenched masturbatory exercise but I find pretty good measured keys without the majesty of a Wakeman but also without some key shredding.

I feel this to be the most mature, intelligent and best Luca album to the date. I'm also afraid that this will be the closeup to the trilogy and maybe his last as Rhapsody and Dreamquest may be consuming all his time. But saving the best for last is the mark of a good musician.

The Female Vocalist Ruined the Album - 80%

Nil3x, March 28th, 2006

Being a huge Luca Turilli Fan, I've been awaiting this release for years. I was curious to hear if he could top 'Prophet of the Last Eclipse'.
Basically here are my problems with the album:

- The Female Vocalist: Probably the worst voice for this band, she doesn't fit the music or any sort of Metal in General at all. She sounds like a Black Gospel singer (which is a huge turn off). Honestly, this would have worked if the singer sounded more Classically trained like Tarja from Nightwish (Default example, but cmon. She's the best, if she sang on this cd it would be 100% better)

- The Lack of Olaf: This man is the voice of Luca Turilli. The fact that he sings on less than half the album just simply bothers me. Biggest Mistake ever.

- The Lack of Speed, and Double Bass drumming : Honestly, this is probably the least Metal album Luca has ever done. Where the hell is the Power Metal guitar work & Drumming? Luca is basing all the songs on Operatic Elements, which is good. But, there's a little too much focus on Opera in this album.

- Chord Progression: This album has some weird Chord Progression, which makes the music lose most of it's Catchy Element which had always attracted me to songs like 'Demonheart' and 'Black Dragon'.

Other than that, this album is seriously good. It has alot of strong points. It's not my favorite, but it's defiently worth listening too. That damn Female Vocalist screwed it all up. Oh well, atleast Dreamquest is amazing.

Infinite Wonders Of Creation - 84%

revon, March 26th, 2006

They have changed. There are so many interesting changes such as Olaf doesn't sing enough (we have a female singer instead of him in so many songs) and I think it's the biggest problem of the album, but fortunately there aren't so many electronical effects that makes this album a little bit closer to the first. This album is a mixture of Dark-Power -, Prog metal and Opera, that means the band lost its real power metal image, it makes the album little bit slow sometimes. Let's see the songs..

Secrets Of Forgotten Ages is a long intro song with a little gregorian influence. (I love gregorian) In my opinion it's a perfect opening. 10/10

Mother Nature starts with nice keyboards, then the guitar comes in and we meet the female singer who has a very good voice, but I miss Olaf.. Then comes the beautiful chorus, maybe the violins and other symphonical isntruments make it that good, later we get a short guitar solo, then chorus, etc. Without Olaf it's 'just' 8,5/10

Angels Of The Winter Dawn is the next, finally Olaf is here making a nice duet with the female singer. That's awesome 10/10.

Altitudes is a slow song, female singing with the company of symphonical instruments. 6,5/10

Miracle Of Life is in the some category with the Angels Of Winter Dawn, nice keyboard solos, powerful vocals, kicks ass 10/10

Silver Moon starts with a play of piano, in the background you can hear a guitar solo then the symphonical intruments take place in this slow song, however there is the classic guitar in the background with the drums of course, and sadly yes, there is no Olaf. 7/10

Cosmic Revelation starts with keyboards and some guitar riffs, after this we can hear a little bit mystical vocals, it has a good chorus, and then finally we get a real guitar solo. It would be very nice, but no Olaf. 7/10

Pyramids And Stargates has really good sound effects, you can feel like you're in Egypt. And yes, here is Olaf, producing powerful, but a little bit slow vocals, but that's not problem in a slow song. It's duet too. 7,5/10

Here comes the song called Mystic and Divine, Olaf starts the song with the company of piano, the female singer is here too, and then this thing has fast speed up, especially after the piano solo, kicks ass 10/10

The last song is usually the best on the albums, but now i can't say this. The Infinite Wonders Of Creation has a long intro, it's a very solemn song just like the whole album, the song starts only around 02:40, yes, the female singer is here, the song goes on, a guitar solo comes. The song has power but it blasts off only in the end, in the last 2 minutes, that's not too bright. 7,5/10

This album is a good ending for the trilogy, it's very solemn, very different from the others. Duets are usually good, but my biggest problem was (you could see) Olaf doesn't sings enough, I miss him very much in many songs. Okay, you can say 'there is Nightwish, there was the beautiful vocalist Tarja, and we didn't have missed the male vocals.' But Luca Turilli had builded up an image, in wich Olaf the leader vocalist and everything. Maybe I'm not the only with my opinion about this. I have to say the first album is the best by far, but this is the second one. If I were Luca, I would put the Angels Of The Winter Dawn to the end of the album, instead of the song The Infinite Wonders Of Creation because that's the best song on the album.
Keep it going Luca Turilli!