CONCERT REVIEW: Ghosts of Atlantis – Existentialist – Draugrheim Live at Colchester Arts Centre


No review from the Colchester Arts Centre would be complete without hailing the best small venue in the UK. Able to host 400 when packed to the architraves, its post-COVID refurb has cleaned up and modernised where needed (toilets, bars), whilst maintaining the features and character that every converted church that is now a gig-hosting venue should. Added to that, great views and a powerful sound-system, and the stage is quite literally set for a much more adventurous and welcome Tuesday night than you might normally get in the Britain’s oldest (and newest – Google it) city*

*It’ll always be a town, to me. 

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Symphony Of An Enchanted Mind (Part 2) – Luca Turilli of Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody

Luca Turilli Rhapsody

With his Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody project – now onto their second album Prometheus: Symphonia Ignis Divinus through Nuclear Blast – he is putting out some of the most daring, distinctive and emotionally resonant music to be released under the Power Metal label in years.

Luca Turilli’s music is passionate, powerful and filled with a sort of joyous open-mindedness, and even through the muddy and unreliable medium of an international Skype call it’s clear as Luca enthuses about music, spirituality and his work with the late Sir Christopher Lee that he possesses all of these qualities himself.

Do you think you might ever return to the kind of serial concept stories that you wrote with Rhapsody/Rhapsody Of Fire?

“I cannot guarantee anything, but I prefer writing about different things. There is a mini-concept across the last two albums – there are three titles on this album connected to four titles of the first album, and there will be three on the next album, for example the third part of ‘Michael The Archangel’. I like always to have connections between songs  – there is a mini-concept about spiritual evolution and the connection between the past and the future – but I don’t think I will ever release one album devoted to one unique concept only.”


Some internet fans have been calling quite vocally for a sequel to Prophet Of The Last Eclipse (Limb/SPV) to finish that album’s story.

“Oh no!  That was a trilogy of albums with one about the past, one about the present and one set in the future – the trilogy is finished, and now with Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody I can do whatever I want; it makes no sense for me to go back to a solo career.”

Some people might take this as an insult, but ever since Italy re-entered Eurovision I can’t help but think that you’d make a great Eurovision entry. Is that something you’d consider doing?

“No, although I think for me that music would be very easy to compose.  I started in the world of Heavy Metal, my influences were of course Helloween with Keeper 1 and 2 – incredible albums – bands like Crimson Glory, and guitars players like Yngwie Malmsteen, Marty Friedman, but my potential for composition expands all the time. 

“If tomorrow they would ask me to compose music for a musical, I could do it very easily, but for now I like to keep attached to the world of Heavy Metal.  It would be very easy for me to leave Rhapsody and focus entirely on music for the entertainment industry, but I would feel the loss of the second element of Rhapsody, this Melodic Metal. Equally, if you restrict me to compose a Heavy Metal song just for guitars, drums and voice I could not do it – for me the best music I can create, to express myself and to give my positive message the most impact is the combination of the cinematic music of the soundtrack and the melodic Metal that I like.”


I was fortunate enough to catch you live in London a few years ago, and one thing that stood out was the sheer joy that came from all of the musicians on the stage, yourself included.

This positivity often seems quite at odds with many other Metal bands, and is sometimes treated as something of a joke by journalists and other musicians.  How do you approach that?

“Let me say one thing – of course we transmit a positive message, our music wants to be a hymn to life, so we try to capture that live when we perform. But I must say that we’re really serious about the message, this is really something I don’t laugh about. It is part of my life, and I see it as sort of like a mission, you know? 

“Every artist has a responsibility, I think, to speak to the heart of the people. Emotion is a weapon, a weapon that you can use in a positive or negative way. As you speak to the younger people through your music, every artist has the responsibility to spread a positive message – that’s why I’m so against those bands who use the negativity to sell or to impose themselves in the market or whatever. When you move some steps in a spiritual direction you realise that values such as love and respect are the fundamental values on which mankind can have any hope for the future – all the rest leads to destruction.

“The message that I include in my songs, I like to be serious about it.  I’m not the typical Metal guy, drinking and smoking, you know – I practise yoga and meditation, I discovered a lot of things about the spiritual world by practicing on myself, not by reading books.  When you experiment with your own spirituality, you can really have a wider understanding of what life is all about.  There are too many people happy to live exclusively in a material perspective, they find the joy of life in satisfying their own ego, but there is a kind of universal law that means that for every joy you can get from the ego it comes with a negative consequence, but if you really go beyond the ego you reach a point where we are all connected.”


Is this purely a personal journey for you, or do you feel a connection to any formal spiritual or mystical traditions?

“There is a great teaching of the Tibetan monks – when you’re part of nothing, you are really part of everything.”

You’re referring to the Buddhist doctrine of Anatta or “not-self” – that the sense of personal consciousness is a conceit binding us to empty physical attachments.

“When a person says “I am x”, “I am a Christian etc”, they are binding themselves into a single way, but there are lots of different ways of approaching this. I don’t like to limit myself. I came to my position after having some… supernatural experiences that inspired me. In England of course you have a long tradition of spiritualism and spirit mediums.”

Italy does too, but the spiritual or religious conversation in that country is often dominated by the Church. How do you feel that your own spiritual journey relates to your origins in a Catholic country?

“Well, I grew up with very Christian values. When people ask me about the connection with Rhapsody and religion, I always say that I respect the positive values of every religion when they intersect with the Universal values of love, but the problem is when they are in any way contaminated by the ego.  When they adapt themselves to the social view – that is something I don’t want to be a part of. 

“For me Jesus is one of the great characters of history, he expressed these values of love and respect, but I like to go directly to the primordial spiritual source, and scientists can help by revealing the details of the universe. There is a part where all religious traditions, all science, all metaphysical disciplines come together. In the end, life wins everything.”




Symphony Of An Enchanted Mind (Part 1) – Luca Turilli of Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody


It’s not an exaggeration to say that Luca Turilli has changed the face of Power Metal as a genre.

When Rhapsody’s debut Legendary Tales (Limb Music) burst onto the scene in 1997 amidst a shower of rainbows and unicorns it hit a moribund, tradition-bound genre like a glass of ice water to the face. Combining huge Power Metal choruses with the panoramic sweep of film soundtracks, a completely irony-free fantasy concept (complete with map) and the kind of genuine, unmodified joy that isn’t often heard in popular music of any kind, the band became genre-leaders overnight, and guitarist/composer Luca Turilli cemented his importance through a string of solo albums before branching off on his own. With his new Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody project – now onto their second album through Nuclear Blast – he’s putting out some of the most daring, distinctive and emotionally resonant music to be released under the Power Metal label in years.

Luca Turilli’s music is passionate, powerful and filled with a sort of joyous open-mindedness, and even through the muddy and unreliable medium of an international Skype call it’s clear as Luca enthuses about music, spirituality and his work with the late Sir Christopher Lee that he possesses all of these qualities himself.


One thing that seems really striking about the last two albums is how far they go beyond the traditional Heavy Metal influences, taking in not only the expected Classical and Soundtrack influences, but also Italian Pop. Did this feel like a risky move after leaving a band with such a clearly defined sound?

“Yes, absolutely – it’s always risky to do something like that, but when you are a composer you can’t just compose the same thing fifteen years after you started. I have such energy flowing in me every day – I put myself in front of the computer or the piano, or with the guitar to compose and I channel this into my music.  For PrometheusSymphonia Ignis Divinus I wrote twenty songs in the first two-three months, then I had to select ten or eleven titles, which at 70 minutes is already the longest Rhapsody album.

“We have so many different styles – I really consider myself more of a composer than a guitar player or a piano player – I always have this variety between albums.  Especially now, since the split with Rhapsody – for the first ten albums everything, musically, lyrically was related with this saga I created, this kind of fantasy saga. After finishing that, I think the possibility of covering different themes, different topics – even though they’re all connected by this main theme of spiritual evolution – it means I can say different things, offer different styles and different colours, on the one album. I was really feeling the need for this, and I feel very proud of this new album. 

“It was very risky, of course – there were some people saying “What is this? What about Enchanted Lands? (Limb)” – this is a problem of illegal downloading, where people will just pick up the new one and say “what, you changed style?”. I’ve been doing this already! I also have a completely new audience, and it’s amazing for me to have this potential crossover – I can reach people who like soundtrack music from the cinema, people who like more opera – I think Rhapsody has always had this potential in some way, but with this new band I’m really free to reach anyone.”


Is this freedom something you’ve gained since leaving original Rhapsody/Rhapsody Of Fire? Do you feel more able to express yourself honestly with this new set-up?

“Many people ask me “Will you go on with your solo career now you have Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody?” and I always say no.  Why should I? If you look the solo albums I was composing when I was with Rhapsody or Rhapsody Of Fire, you will notice all of these sounds I could not use in Rhapsody because of this fantastic story connecting ten albums – I don’t know how many bands in the history of music have honestly done that, it was a real emotional journey for us, incredible – but in some ways it was missing something.  I am more of a composer than a player, for me it’s important to compose, and I like a lot of soundtrack styles – at that time it was the beginning of 2000, there were a lot of films like Lord Of The Rings, but there was also The Matrix Trilogy with this kind of soundtrack, very electronic.

“So I really felt the need to compose the soundtrack albums to include what I could not use in Rhapsody – not that I could not because Alex (Staropoli) wouldn’t let me – just because of what we were doing. So now, of course, there is no need for me to make any more solo albums because of what I can do with this new Rhapsody. I’m looking at lots of different opportunities to make music for movies, for video games, but Rhapsody will always be my top priority simply for one thing – I have complete freedom. With Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody band I have found the perfect equilibrium, total freedom and an amazing situation.”


The symphonic and soundtrack elements have been present since the first Rhapsody album, of course, but with the last two albums you’ve become considerably more successful at realising them.

“Now, when I write orchestral parts, it is so much easier than it was with early Rhapsody. Now with computers, I have one of the most powerful systems for classical composition in Europe in my home. I really want to be able to compete with the great composers of soundtracks in the US and Hollywood, so I really need technological support. In the morning I have breakfast, then I have all of the sounds in the planet in front of me – my own creativity is the only limit!

“When we started Rhapsody in the 90’s with the aim of doing something new the support of the technology was not that great – we were typing note by note on a keyboard sequencer! The Korg 01/W Pro – I remember because it was our partner in the composition of the albums, and in some way of course that’s why it was taking so long.  Now it’s easier, and I can create a great orchestration in a shorter time. That’s also part of the freedom I talked about – just technically I can make music now that would have been impossible or taken too long in the beginning.”


Prometheus: Symphonia Ignis Divinus is available now via Nuclear Blast



Rhapsody of Fire – Dark Wings of Steel


Eighteen months ago, a year after amicably departing the band to create counterpart Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody, the man himself Luca Turilli strode up, calmly removed his (slightly camp) leather gloves, smiled sweetly, and flicked fingers across the right cheeks of his former bandmates affectionately, before aggressively slapping them hard across their left, dropping the gloves at their feet and turning on his heel with a flourish, striding confidently away. By doing what Rhapsody (of Fire) hadn’t truly delivered since 2002’s Power of the Dragonflame (Limb), Ascendency to Infinity (Nuclear Blast) was dramatic, dynamic, interesting and taking a bombastic risk, moving cinematic metal forward and well and truly throwing down the gauntlet.

In days of yore, once the gauntlet was dropped it meant a challenge had been made and men came out fighting, desperate to save their honour and name from being besmirched.

Unfortunately, Rhapsody of Fire have ignored the humiliating slap to the face, and stood there with their fingers in their ears, ignoring their smarting chops and carried on as if it hadn’t happened. Rather than the salivating prospect of 2 true kings of symphonic metal doing battle round Europe, trading musical blows each trumping the other at each turn, Rhapsody of Fire have conceded the fight, making only a token appearance on the battle ground to wave a white flag.

So predictable is Dark Wings of Steel (AFM) that I could have written this review without actually hearing it. It sounds like the last 3, overflowing with musicianship, but short on songs. The huge choruses and rousing power metal passages are conspicuous in an underwhelming absence. All the requisite is there; it’s exceptionally well played, Alex Staropoli’s baroque keyboard passages twinkle and the as-ever-impeccable Fabio Leone’s soaring vocals are once again the saving grace, while tracks like ‘Silver Light of Tears’ show the flame of creativity can still flicker.

In the main, though, it’s disappointing. Rhapsody of Fire can and should deliver more. More thrills, more epic peaks, more tumultuous choruses, more majestic passages, and bigger driving metal chugs and licks. Instead they seem content to limp along in the shadows of their former glories.

6.0 / 10

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