Keyboardist / songwriter and co-founder of the original Rhapsody, Alex Staropoli, is no stranger to change. From the band's evolution into Rhapsody Of Fire in 2006, to parting ways with guitarist / co-founder Luca Turilli in 2011, to bringing aboard new singer Giacomo Voli in 2016, Staropoli has stood strong and forged ahead even though it looked from the outside like everything was falling apart. With each new change, Rhapsody Of Fire defied the odds and succeeded in winning over fans and critics alike with each consecutive album. Perhaps the greatest test came in the form of the band's 12th studio album, The Eighth Mountain - released in 2019 - which featured the first saga in the band's history not written by Turilli, and Voli's first recorded work as Rhapsody Of Fire's frontman.
It was a rousing symphonic metal success, solidifying the foundation for Glory For Salvation.
"It's a shock for everybody when a band loses their singer, but most people are very happy with the outcome because we've moved on to create a new and exciting situation," Staropoli says of working with Voli on The Eighth Mountain and Glory For Salvation. "Even though we respect and honor our past, it's still the past. We've gained some new fans and things are very positive. Giacomo is a great person to work with. We can be very serious and professional but we also have fun working together."
Adjusting to the new dynamic within Rhapsody Of Fire was not easy at first, due to the fact Staropoli was responsible for writing all the new material by himself. The new situation was as well very exciting for him, and Staropoli admits it helped him grow even more as a composer and as a musician in general. He considers it a blessing in the end, and the lessons he learned making The Eighth Mountain helped to build Glory For Salvation into the epic production it is. While Staropoli wrote some of the music entirely on his own, he credits guitarist Roby De Micheli - who has been with Rhapsody Of Fire for a decade now - for creating riffs and sections that influenced the making entire songs.
"I never have a precise plan," says Staropoli, "but I have ideas that I want to express and imagine trying to present them live. It always depends, but I generally like to start with the guitar parts because I want to create a solid base for a metal album. Most of the final orchestrations come at the end.
Glory For Salvation would not be a Rhapsody Of Fire album if it wasn't rooted in a concept, thus it acts as the second chapter of The Nephilim's Empire Saga, which began with The Eighth Mountain. The saga centers on the argument of redemption and the valor of life. The hero is aware of his mistakes, wants to remedy them in order to seek redemption, and to fight for what is right. Taking things a step into the real world, Staropoli feels the saga can be viewed as the development of an individual; a development that will bring a person to the highest point, which is the complete realization of who he or she truly is. The concept was developed by Roby De Micheli and Staropoli, with the lyrics written by Giacomo Voli and being the very last element added to the musical compositions.
"Knowing the story, how the saga evolves and those various moments, I try to compose music that will fit the story as much as I can," says Staropoli, "but I don't want to do that too much. I don't want to make a 100% full concept album. I want something that gives me more musical freedom, which is why the lyrics come at the end. So when I make a demo it has everything including the vocal melody, so based on that Giacomo is working with the lyrics on top of my vocal melodies. Things might change a bit here and there of course, but the lyrics are always the last thing to be added."
Thirteen albums, three EPs and two live albums over 24 years and Staropoli shows no signs of slowing down. In many ways he is just getting started with Rhapsody Of Fire, with Glory For Salvation being the all important next step. Music has always been his passion and this new album is most certainly not "business as usual." When asked what keeps Rhapsody Of Fire exciting for him so deep into his career, Staropoli credits his love for music and his work as a producer, his bandmates and Glory For Salvation mixing engineer Sebastian "Seeb" Levermann (Orden Ogan) for keeping the spark alive.
"It's the environment that plays a big part in that. Knowing I have a band that can express this music on stage, it gives me a solid background and a solid base where I can compose with confidence. Also the fact that I know what I'm composing for Glory For Salvation is a bit more complex than usual, and it is in the hands of a mixing engineer that can make things sound the way I hear them in my head. And the way this album sounds, it's absolutely mind-blowing."
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