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Full of emptiness - 30%

Sean16, February 25th, 2007

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?