About Me

Interview with Rhapsody Of Fire

When people say that Italian is the language of love and Power Metal, they are not wrong. Listen to “Un’Ode Per L’Eroe”:
“…Il vento porta un cantico
Un'ode per l'eroe
Spande già
L'antica melodia…”

Metal Imperium had the opportunity to chat with Alex Staropoli, keyboardist, composer and co-founder of Rhapsody of Fire about “Glory Of Salvation”, that was released via AFM Records on 26th November. He told us about the music process, lyrics, songs in different languages and much more.  Did you know that the singer Giacomo Voli participated in an Italian TV show?

M.I. - Hi there, guys. Metal greetings from Portugal to Italy. Hope you are great and thanks for accepting this interview.

Hello, Raquel Miranda! I’m Alex Staropoli, thank you for this interview!

M.I. - “Glory For Salvation” is your thirteenth studio album, which was released on 26th November via AFM records and is the epic continuation of your trilogy, which started with 2019’s “The Eighth Mountain”. It’s the second chapter of The Nephilim's Empire Saga. Could you please tell us more about the saga and the trilogy? Where does this album lead us to?

“Glory For Salvation” is the second chapter of this new Rhapsody Of Fire saga. At this time in the story, the hero opens his eyes and realizes the reality around him and understands that he will have to fight with all his strength to accomplish his goals. There isn’t a real connection with our daily life or our society, but it is a metaphor to propel, to drive people to believe in themselves and to make them realize that every one of us has a second chance and, in order to do so, we have to work hard for it.

M.I. - We can see a maturation on both band’s lyrics composition and music. But let’s talk first about the lyrics, shall we? You were responsible to write all the songs for the record. How was this challenge, since Luca Turilli was the composer with you? What were your main influences and what lessons did he learn with it?

I have spent the last two years working on this new album production. The search for new melodies, new musical landscapes and new elements to integrate in the sound. The songwriting was spontaneous and I felt inspired and motivated the whole time. Being able to write epic music for our epic fans has always been a privilege. The music comes first. I do create all the songs and program all the instruments first in demo version, including the vocal melodies. Based on that, Giacomo will then work on the lyrics. That’s really the final step. The more I work on each song, the more ideas and new inputs I get. The process stays open until we begin the mix. If I have last minute ideas and additions, I will do everything to make that happen even during the mix. About influences, I can mention nature, movies, classical music, film music, and all the available instruments that allow me to create and compose. Everyday you can learn something from anything, if you are willing to listen and be perceptive.

M.I. - And what about musically? You wrote some of the songs and guitarist Roby De Micheli has credit on others, for the creation of the riffs. How did you create the music, since it gets into the wildest dreams of the listeners? How were the magical orchestrations made and added in between each song? “Infinitae Gloriae” features some traditionally uplifting Rhapsody style chorus. Who are the singers of the chorus?

I do compose songs by myself, but Roby De Micheli is a part of the process as well. Roby offers a lot of ideas, especially for guitar riffs, guitar solos and other parts. There are no specific rules to write a song. Often I just start from the desire to use specific instruments and that’s the case of “Terial The Hawk”, for instance. I wrote the song wanting to have the Uillean pipes, the Celtic harp, flutes, solo strings and, the desire to use those fantastic instruments, drove me into the composition process. I have recorded two choirs, the operatic and the so called epic choir. In both we had several singers, their names are all in the booklet’s credits. In both choirs, there are a lot of tracks, several tracks for each melody, harmony, octaves, etc. It was a huge work to accomplish the sound result I needed but it was definitely worth it.

M.I. - Giovanni Davoli recorded and filmed the introduction of 'Terial The Hawk' with Uilleann pipes, the characteristic national bagpipe of Ireland. Did you ever think to make a fusion with baroque and traditional elements on this record?

Giovanni is a fantastic player. I love the pipes and all the Baroque and Celtic instruments. I find the blending between Metal and those intruments very exciting and I am surely going to do more of that in the future.

M.I. - Three songs are in different languages. “Un’Ode Per L’Eroe” (An Ode For the Hero) and “La Esencia De Un Rey” (The Royal Essence of a King) are Italian and Spanish versions of “Magic Signs.” Why did you decide to make two different versions of this song? 

It’s a tradition now. We did the same in “The Eighth Mountain” with 4 different languages, that were released on our latest EP: “I’ll Be Your Hero”. It’s fun to do! It’s a nice challenge for Giacomo, but moreover, it’s a gift to all our fans around the world. In specific, those lyrics are not just mere translations, but every different language lyric has been specifically created, of course, in line with the story and the meanings atttached to it.

M.I. - It’s the first album for Giacomo Voli as the frontman and therefore you’ve created a remarkable sound. Do you think that the lineup change contributed to it, specially the departure of drummer Manu Lotter and Paolo Marchesich replacing him? What new sound did Paolo bring to the band’s atmosphere that was missing?

I think that is clear that Giacomo, which by the way has been in the band for 5 years already, brought a fresh wind of change and a great sound. I was amazed how incredibly well he was welcomed by our fans around the world. In front of such a talent and amazing voice, it is impossible to not get impressed. New drummer Paolo Marchesich is a great guy and, besides being friend with Roby De Micheli and Alessandro Sala, he’s from our home town! His drumming is fantastic and he is really a sweet guy. So right now, the atmosphere is pretty great!

M.I. - Every location of your videos is so epic and powerful. How do you choose the location for them and has the director the same vision as you?

Director Simone Vrech came out with the perfect location after I told him I wished to film in the Italian Alps. To shoot in these kind of locations, especially at 2.000 mt above the sea level, with almost zero degrees Celsius, plus wind and rain, it’s not easy, but we had a great organization. Beside the grandiosity of those mountains, we are proud that we could show our beautiful territory to the world. Trieste, our home town, it’s just a few hours a way.

M.I. - Sebastian "Seeb" Levermann (Orden Ogan) kept the flame alive from the first album. How is it working with a friend that works with the same genre as you?

Having a mixing engineer as Sebastian “Seeb” Levermann makes my composition process more exciting, because I know that at the end of the entire process of composing, arranging and recording, there is a talented person that is going to make sure that each song will sound exactly the way it was meant to be, and this is a very important element. I am very grateful to “Seeb”. With “The Eighth Mountain”, he did a great job and with “Glory For Salvation”, he did raise the bar in a way I would have never imagined. The sound is powerful, rich and yet defined and clear. The fact he is in the Metal world as well I see it as a very positive factor. I want the band to sound more Metal and powerful than in the past. So, it’s a great choice to use his services for mix and mastering.

M.I. - You have confirmed a 30-date long touring plan over the European lands: “Glory For Salvation Tour”! It's booked for January/February 2022 and features support from Nightmare and Phantom Elite (opening act), warm-up bands, Existance and Manigance, in France. Will Portugall be added? What surprises do you have for the fans?

It’s going to be a fantastic tour! We are working to play in Portugal as well of course. We are happy to finally being able to go back on tour and play some of the news songs. We all can’t wait!

M.I. - Do you know any new Power Metal bands? If so, mention your favorites. What bands/artists do you listen to and recommend?

I do not know new Power Metal Bands really. All I do is to be concentrated on the work I do for Rhapsody Of Fire and generally I am not even interested in what other bands do. I have too much work on my plate anyway, and moreover, I prefer to not listen to Metal in general, from a composer point of view, I am sure it’s a common behavior.

M.I. - Let’s talk something beyond Power Metal and Metal in general. Amazing performance by Giacomo on the Italian TV show “All Together Now”! How was the invitation for the show and the choice for the song? 

Giacomo is an amazing talent. He applied for the “All Together Now!” show and got accepted right away, and I am not surprised. Every participant has a list of songs to choose from, also based on the type of voice and personal taste, I guess. Giacomo is so versatile, and he did stand out in every song he performed so far. We are proud of him!

M.I. - Thanks so much once again for accepting the interview. Do you want to say anything else to your fans?

Since the very first time I came to Portugal, I fell in love with your beautiful country and with our incredible fans as well. Last time I have enjoyed some free days and visited places. I am looking forward to repeating the experience and to have some shows again in 2022. I am working on it. I wish things will go back to normal and all enjoy live shows again!
Stay safe and healthy!
Alex Staropoli.

For Portuguese version, click here

Questions by Raquel Miranda