RHAPSODY OF FIRE Eternal and Divine

One of Metal Sound’s absolutely favourite bands Rhapsody Of Fire is already back with their new album “From Chaos To Eternity“, just one year after monumental „The Frozen Tears Of Angels“, which marks the final chapter of conceptual story saga. We hooked up with Alex Staropoli, keyboard player and and one of founding members, to give us all the information we need.

Let’s start the interview with the question about your upcoming album „From Chaos to Eternity“ which is going to be published in less than a month. Please how would you, from your point of view, like to present your next full length?
This is the end of the big saga which started 15 years ago, the saga is ending finally as this is the final chapter. As „The frozen tears of angels“, previous studio album… we liked the idea to follow the direction we started on that one so we are having a lot of guitar and rhythm section is very hard and very powerful, we have less of orchestrations to have more „live“ kind of sound, it’s very aggressive and I’m sure everybody will really appreciate this sound. That’s my point of view but I think until now we also saw a lot of positive comments and it is great to be back.

OK, you have just said that this is the final chapter of saga, does it actually mean that this is the final, last album of Rhapsody Of Fire or just of one saga?
This is the last chapter of this saga, and this is very important because after fifteen years… I mean, looking at us having written the saga we knew that we can make just some number of studio albums about it, of course. We never told to the world that this will be the last album. Of course, we knew that it seems finished. Also because we made all this narrations with Cristopher Lee, we made it many years ago and we made all the narrations we are using right now so it was a big thing. For us it’s no surprise but for the fans, I’m sure that it’s surprising a lot. But this will only be the last CD of the saga.

All these narrations of Cristopher Lee that we have the chance to hear now were actually recorded some time ago?
Yeah, it was from when we started „Symphony of enchanted lands II“ so when we signed for Magic Circle we decided to follow the saga but also start a new one so we decided to have a narrator. Of course, it was great to have Cristopher Lee; we waited a long time to have his parts and of course we recorded everything related to this saga, so many narratons, many dialogues with different actors and people… it was a big production that was made to be useful for all the studio albums that we were supposed to do in the future.

„The frozen tears of angels“ and „From chaos to eternity“ are very linked music wise, but the new one is lighter, if I could say, when the previous one was very dark and sometimes aggressive. How would you compare the two albums?
„The frozen tears of angels“ is for sure very unique album because it has a very special sound to me and we really wanted to add this kind of cold approach to our sound, it’s still one of my favourite albums. „The frozen tears of angels“ was special chapter of this saga so it was important to have this kind of sound. For this last chapter of the saga, we wanted to have the same approach but with again different songs and different ways of arranging so this album is a little bit more raw, more powerful. Somehow we did as we did for the previous album, we leave a very long song for the end and we can compare it with the new album which has the ong which is 20 minutes long and it contains most of the narrations, orchestrations and important moments of the saga while the other songs have the more pwerful, easy listening sound. We always like to divide and combine these elements.

I can agree with your opinion that „The frozen tears of angels“ is one of the best Rhapsody Of Fire’s albums but it’s also very unique, was there any intentions to do such an orchestral but very grim and cold album?
Yeah, most of the inspiration was coming from saga. Of course, Luca is writing everything and he is responsible for the saga so he was explaining to me all the passages and lyrics that he was going to write for every song. It was clear that we wanted to have our special sound and we also used more acoustic guitars than in the past because it was important for us for this kind of sonority, it has that cold sound. Aim was to create an album with select cold ambients of the saga. Speaking about this darker episode of the band – also on the new one you have some deatils and songs which are in that vein like, for example, „Aeons of raging darkness“.

Why did you decide to record one more vocally Black Metal oriented song?
We just like the way Fabio sings, he is very eager to to so many different styles of singing. Luca was writing some lyrics so we had to to the music in this way, he wanted to have some Black singing but using positive lyrics, this is something he really likes. In the past we wnated to release the album with all songs like that one but we changed the idea and we add one song of this style in our albums because we really like the heavy approach. Our singer’s ideas are very exciting, for the very first time we recorded many things in our studio in Italy and it was fantastic for Fabio; we had the time, nice ambient, no stress…

Who did the production of the new album, Luca and you once again?
Yes of course, we produced the album. In Germany we recorded the drums and of course Sascha Paeth mixed the album and did the fantastic job, we are very happy. But this time we recorded all the guitars here, Luca did it on his own, Fabio… It was vry important for us, it was fantastic to work home, it’s just fantastic for musician to be able to do it.

You have the studio of your own, does it mean that you are going to open the studio for other bands to records?
Oh no, this is not in my plans right now because it is actually in my home. The way the house is made doesn’t allow to have the people around, I’m not the kind of guy that would ever do this. In the future I don’t know, mybe with the different facilities I would maybe do it but for now I prefer to work on my own for Rhapsody and of course for my home project that I’m working on with my brother so I’m very busy already.

When it comes to cover art and lyrical background, can you tell us is there any strong link between them?
Yeah of course, for this last chapter Luca and me decided not to speak or give the informations about it because it’s the last chapter of the saga. Considering the magic and dramatic moments we wrote for this album, everyone will experience this for himself. We are actually not giving description what’s going on, what we have.. Considering the cover artwork, for „The frozen tears of angels“ we used Felipe Machado Franco who is fantastic person and fantastic designer. Actually we have a picture with him when we went to play in Colombia many years ago, he was just a fan of Rhapsody and he was just starting to work with graphics and after so many years he became our graphic artist. He already loved Rhapsody since many years and Luca told him what to do related to the sound he came up with the sketch which was almost like the cover artwork, almost done… It was fantastic, the way he’s working is absolutely fantastic. For Luca and me it was always important to combine the graphical and musical aspects.

You have done one video clip for the previous album, „Sea of fate“, are you going to shoot some videos to promote „From chaos to eternity“?
For the moment nothing is set in, we will see about it in the future but for now on we have nothing planned…

I have asked you this question since many bands from Nuclear Blast like Blind Guardian or Hammerfall are doing the huge videos, are you going to do one video in similar vein?
I really like those videos of, for example, Nightwish or Dimmu Borgir just to mention some names, because those videos look fantastic and I have always dreamed to have a video like that but to make a video like this you need a budget which is very, very huge, I’m sure that one of those budgets would be enough to make one studio album. I have to say that at this time we do not have the possibilites to do videos such as movies, those videos are really made in fantastic way. It was always a dream of us but we could never make it. Also we know that many bands came to Belgrade to film their videos, this is an option we are considering but not for this album, maybe for the future ones. After the videos we made I think that we should really be careful what we do because we had some unsatisfying ones in the past. I have hear about the studios in Belgrade doing the good things.

Rhapsody is very active when it comes to performing live recently, you are more concentrated on summer festivals in the next period but are you going to do one proper full European tour in the autumn?
Yes, we want to do this! After so many years when we were not playing, we started with Russia, we went to China, Taiwan, for six weeks and then we went all the way to South America which was fantastic experience. And we also did some dates in Europe, it was a good start up because after so many years the market changed, the fans changed, the band was not working for 3-4 years so we really had to start carefully. In the end it was fantastic, we had the venues sold out, we came back and the people were still there after so many years. Actually now after these summer festivals, very important for us, we are going to play more shows in many countries and for sure in Europe. Starting from fall and winter, we will for sure organize the tour.

I would like to ask you for the end about „The cold embrace of fear“, your mini album so can you please give us some comments about it? It really reminded me on some old drama broadcasts because of those narrations!
Especially for me as keyboar player and arranger, it was fantastic to work on this musical. This was an EP, and we composed before „The frozen tears of angels“ and a part of this long song on the EP but the idea was that „The frozen tears of angels“ to sound the way it sounds and the EP to be more orchestral, more in the vein of film scores. We have put, as you said, many narrations of Cristopher Lee, many dramatic epic arrangements. Someone in Germany have described it by simply saying „movie for your ears“ and it’s fantastic because we really wanted to give the impression that it’s really like a movie, the experience to give the picture in your mind. So it was great to do it and to give such a gift to the fans because in the end for the price of EP you have 35 minutes of music, very intense music. I’m very proud of it.

Answers by Alex Staropoli
Interview was done by Marko Miranovic