Rhapsody of Fire (formerly known as Rhapsody and, originally, as Thundercross) is an Italian symphonic power metal band led by Alex Staropoli. Since forming in 1993, the band has released ten studio albums, one live album, two EPs, and a live DVD. Rhapsody of Fire is known for its conceptual lyrics that constitute a fantasy story throughout all of their albums.
Early years (1993--1997):
In 1993, Luca Turilli decided to create a Symphonic metal band with the vision of integrating classical music elements with metal. The first to join him were Alex Staropoli and Daniele Carbonera. These three formed a band that became known as Thundercross. Turilli has said in interviews that both Thundercross and the early Rhapsody material were heavily influenced by Manowar's style of heavy metal, and that Yngwie Malmsteen was a big influence from a guitar playing perspective.
A year later Thundercross released their first demo, "Land of Immortals", with Cristiano Adacher taking on the role of vocals. During this period of time, they went through a few bassist changes in their lineup.Limb Music Products & Publishing showed interest in the band's music and shortly after the band received a proposal from the record company.
Having accepted the offer, the band soon began promoting their music and started recording their second demo, "Eternal Glory". At this time they also changed their name to Rhapsody so as to highlight their connection with classical music and poetry. Shortly after the release of Eternal Glory, Cristiano (vocals) and Andrea (bassist) left the band. Rhapsody found new vocalist Fabio Lione, the former vocalist of Labyrinth and Athena, who was known for the depth and power of his voice in his songs.
Legendary Tales and Symphony of Enchanted Lands (1997--2000):
With these four members, the band started recording their debut album, Legendary Tales, which was released in 1997. Rhapsody incorporated classical music, baroque and heavy metal styles in a sub-genre they call "film score metal" due to its resemblance to movie soundtracks. The album was recorded in Germany by the well known producer Sascha Paeth (Heaven's Gate), who also helped Rhapsody with their bass parts. The album was also the beginning story of the Emerald Sword Saga. The lyrics on the album (written by Turilli) often refer to mystical medieval folklore and the heroic valor of those times and are centered around high fantasy, highlighting in particular the everlasting fight between good and evil.
In the years that followed, Turilli, Staropoli and Lione developed their new sound even more with their second album, Symphony of Enchanted Lands, in 1998, having been joined by bass player Alessandro Lotta. They wrote pieces such as Emerald Sword, drawing on Russian folklore and Celtic style elements and adding to the Emerald Sword Saga. 1999 was a quiet year for Rhapsody, but Luca and Fabio both released solo albums.
Dawn of Victory, Rain of a Thousand Flames and Power of the Dragonflame (2000-2004):
In the spring Rhapsody started their first tour, starting in Sweden. They performed with Stratovarius and Sonata Arctica in Spring 2000 supported by their new drummer Alex Holzwarth.
After the tour they began recording their new album, Dawn of Victory. The first single Holy Thunderforce was released in 2000 with some success. The new album showed Rhapsody in a whole new light, with a more aggressive style and sped up tempo. It continued the third part of the Emerald Sword Saga, and the orchestra still played an important part of the album, with songs such as Lux Triumphans, The Village of Dwarves and The Bloody Rage of the Titans, played beside more bombastic melodies as Dawn of Victory, Triumph For My Magic Steel, Dargor, Shadowlord of the Black Mountain and Holy Thunderforce. It had more success than any of their previous outings, and Dawn of Victory ranked at 32 in the German charts while in Japan it peaked in 4th place. In early summer 2001, Rhapsody toured through South America and Europe.
Rain of a Thousand Flames served as a bridge between the last part of the Emerald Sword Saga and "Power of the Dragonflame". Power of the Dragonflame was released in February 2002 and had incredible success around the world. Marking the end of the Emerald Sword Saga, it contained soft ballads and upbeat metal melodies. The band was joined by another two members, Patrice Guers (bass) and Dominique Leurquin (Guitars). Alex Holzwarth, who had been playing drums for Rhapsody onstage since 2000 was listed in the official band line-up on these releases, although Holzwarth has played drums in the studio since The Dark Secret EP.
The Dark Secret and Symphony of Enchanted Lands II (2004-2006):
The Dark Secret EP was released on June 28, 2004. It gave listeners a taste of what could be expected from the new album, labelled Symphony of Enchanted Lands II: The Dark Secret which was released several months later in September. Christopher Lee was involved in this project, narrating part of the storyline. Symphony Of Enchanted Lands II was a follow-up to the Emerald Sword Saga called The Dark Secret Saga. Symphony Of Enchanted Lands II features a wide variety of sounds and style.Unholy Warcry mixes powerful heavy metal with Staropoli's elaborate choral arrangements. On Never Forgotten Heroes, Gregorian choir voices and majestic piano sounds create an eerie atmosphere before the composition turns into a straight piece which is enriched by Turilli's guitar leads. Erian's Mystical Rhymes and Sacred Power Of Raging Winds are two pieces that are each more than 10 minutes long. These two could easily be considered rock operas because they showcase classical string sequences, as well as an orchestra, bass drum, and a choir. The violin and the cello produce dark sounds and a magical atmosphere is created by the duels fought between the woodwind players and the strings. Together with the lead guitars by Turilli and Lee's spoken parts, they give the whole work a magical mood, which is then intensified by Fabio Lione's flexible voice.
Name change and Triumph or Agony (2006-2007):
In July 2006 the band formerly known as Rhapsody changed their name to Rhapsody of Fire due to trademark issues. The band's website goes into further detail: The band members consider this a great new start, reflecting the emboldened and increasingly grandiose direction that their music has taken. "The power of the Dragonflame will burn brighter than ever before," says guitarist/songwriter Luca Turilli. Keyboardist/songwriter Alex Staropoli adds, "The name Rhapsody Of Fire better represents the energy that has always been present in this band and its music."
The band released Triumph or Agony, on September 25, 2006, in Europe. The second chapter in The Dark Secret Saga, Triumph Or Agony continues the bombastic Rhapsody Of Fire tradition with a live 70 piece orchestra and choir as Turilli and Staropoli continuing to self-produce the band's work with the assistance of co-producer Sascha Paeth. New songs include Silent Dream, Son Of Pain and the epic 16-minute long The Mystic Prophecy Of The Demonknight, an example of a cinema soundtrack adapted to a metal song. In addition vocalist Fabio Lione's gives his songwriting debut for Rhapsody Of Fire with the song Il Canto del Vento.
Legal fight with Magic Circle Music and a hiatus (2007-2009):
In June 2008, Luca Turilli reported on the band's official website about a "hard legal fight with Magic Circle Music and his main representative Mr. Joey DeMaio". Since then, the band went on a hiatus for nearly one and a half years. Any studio or live activity was suspended for the period. Luca Turilli concentrated on his solo albums, Fabio Lione collaborated with Vision Divine and Kamelot, Alex Holzwarth collaborated with his brother Oliver, and Staropoli also announced his plans to record a solo album.
In late 2009 Limb Music re-released their back-catalogue from 1997 to 2001, along with the compilation album "Tales from the Emerald Sword Saga" on digital music stores.
Return, Frozen Tears of Angels and Nuclear Blast (2009-2011):
On November 18, 2009 it was announced that the band had signed with Nuclear Blast Records and that their new album, The Frozen Tears of Angels, would be released on March 5, 2010. However, Nuclear Blast stated that the album would not be released until April 30. On March 5, 2010 the official Rhapsody of Fire website announced that it would indeed be released on April 30. A new song was made available to download soon after. The album was produced by Luca Turilli and Alex Staropoli and mixed and mastered by Sascha Paeth at the Gate Studio in Wolfsburg. As well as the standard edition, it was released as a "special limited deluxe digipak" which included two bonus tracks and a 32 page booklet, and on vinyl.
A 35 minute EP entitled The Cold Embrace of Fear - A Dark Romantic Symphony was released in Europe on October 15, 2010 and in the United States on January 25, 2011. The story is directly connected to The Frozen Tears of Angels.
On March 5, 2011 Rhapsody of Fire announced that they have finished the mixing of their new eighth studio album From Chaos to Eternity, which was due to be released on June 17, 2011 but close to the release date was changed to July 12, 2011. It is their final fantasy based album that follows the chronicles of Algalord. The album is to contain nine tracks, one of which, Heroes of the Waterfalls' Kingdom, is almost twenty minutes long and is split into 5 parts.
Acquisition of a second guitarist, Turilli's departure and line-up changes (2011-):
On April 15, 2011 it was announced that guitarist Tom Hess (from the bands HolyHell and HESS) has become a new official member of Rhapsody Of Fire. Hess actually joined the band in December of 2010 and recorded all the rhythm guitar parts and contributed several solos for the band's CD From Chaos to Eternity and began touring with the band starting with the festivals taking place in 2011.
On August 16, 2011, Rhapsody of Fire announced the friendly departure of long-time guitarist, song-writer and founding member Luca Turilli, along with bassist Patrice Guers. After the friendly split by Rhapsody of Fire Tom Hess became the band's main guitar player on the same day.
On September 1, 2011, the band announced their new bassist, Alex's brother and former Blind Guardian session member Oliver Holzwarth.
On September, 27, the band announced that Roberto De Micheli (from Sinestesia, an Italian prog-metal band also from Trieste) has joined them as a second guitar player.
Luca Turilli continues under the monicker of Luca Turilli's Rhapsody with Alessandro Conti on vocals..
Alex Staropoli - Keyboards (1993-present),
Fabio Lione - Vocals (1995-present),
Tom Hess - Guitar (2010-present),
Roberto De Micheli - Guitar (2011-present),
Oliver Holzwarth - Bass (2011-present),
Alex Holzwarth - Drums (2000-present),
Luca Turilli - Lead/rhythm guitar (1993-2011),
Cristiano Adacher - Vocals (1993-1995),
Andrea Furlan - Bass (1993-1995),
Daniele Carbonera - Drums (1993-1999),
Alessandro Lotta - Bass (1995-2001),
Patrice Guers - Bass (2003-2011),
Dominique Leurquin - Guitar, live & Stage member member (since 2010),
Jay Lansford - Narration, 1997 to 2002,
Christopher Lee - Narration Symphony of Enchanted Lands II - The Dark Secret, Triumph or Agony, "The Frozen Tears of Angels", The Cold Embrace Of Fear - A Dark Romantic Symphony and From Chaos to Eternity. Additional vocals on The Magic of the Wizard's Dream.,
Thunderforce - Drums, 2000-2002,
Sascha Paeth - Bass on Legendary Tales and Power of the Dragonflame,
Robert Hunecke-Rizzo - Bass on Legendary Tales,
Brandon Lavigne - Tin Whistle on Dawn Of Victory,
Petr Pololanik - Conductor and orchestrator on Symphony of Enchanted Lands II - The Dark Secret and Triumph or Agony.