Luca Turilli is so much more than a guitarist. Not only did he write every note and lyric you hear on Prophet of the Last Eclipse – his second full-length CD – but he also composed all of the orchestral arrangements, oversaw four different choirs and managed to link 10 grand and galloping songs to a tragic love story that takes place in another universe. Call it "symphonic cosmic metal." That's what Turilli calls it. Of course, he also made up the term "Hollywood metal" to describe the sound of Rhapsody, the Italian band he founded in 1995 that's heavily influenced by classical and orchestral elements, as well as film scores.
Turilli's description of his latest solo album hits the mark. Prophet of the Last Eclipse features the same roster of musicians as Turilli's solo debut, 1999's King of the Nordic Twilight – singer Olaf Hayer, bassist and guitarist Sascha Paeth, keyboard player Miro and drummer Robert Hunnecke-Rizzo – but musically and thematically, the differences between the two discs are dramatic. While the story told on King of the Nordic Twilight takes place centuries ago, this new chapter happens in a futuristic galaxy with different characters. Flourishes of electronica, lots of synthesizers, sound effects and otherworldly choirs enhance what has come to be the traditional Turilli/Rhapsody sound. Standout tracks include the experimental "Demonheart," the epic 12-minute title track (featuring American singer Amanda Somerville) and the ballad "Timeless Oceans."
But in his zeal to make an album bigger, bolder and more bombastic than its predecessor, Turilli overlooked some details. King of the Nordic Twilight is, according to its liner notes, the first chapter in the "Virtual Odyssey" trilogy. Now, the guitarist writes in the liner notes for Prophet of the Last Eclipse, the tale is called "The Dark Comet Saga." A petty criticism? Perhaps. But in a tale whose understanding is crucial to fully appreciating the scope of Turilli's work, it matters. An even stronger gripe is the fact that the songs from King of the Nordic Twilight resonate longer and deeper than the tracks on Prophet of the Last Eclipse. Granted, the new record takes several listens to digest, but even then, half these tracks may not linger in your ears long after they fade from your speakers.
Still, at age 30, Turilli is one of the most talented metal musicians on the scene today. His ability to make his musical vision reality is admirable, and each of his songs is more exciting than what many of his counterparts in other bands are delivering these days. Turilli also surrounds himself with the best people in the business – in this case, impeccable producers Paeth and Miro, Germany's outstanding String Quintett Hamburg and renowned artist Marc Klinnert (Rhapsody, Axel Rudi Pell, Shadowkeep). While Prophet of the Last Eclipse didn't make my best-of list for 2002, it at least deserves honorable mention here. Very seldom does metal music sound this huge.
(A limited-edition of Prophet of the Last Eclipse comes in a bound book with detailed liner notes penned by Turilli and two bonus tracks featuring Angra's Andre Matos on vocals. Why? I do not know.)