Melted Space_The Great LieMelted Space. A project with more vocalists than Avantasia and more guests than a free beer and sex party. An ambitious metal opera, Pierre le Pape draws together myriad musicians and vocalists in depicting his epic vision on this debut, The Great Lie. It’s a monumental work – I’ve not heard a metal opera with such scope in its fusion of classical with metal, but an entangled core message tempers the effect.

The Great Lie is as close as I’ve heard to a complete metal opera. None less than the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra undertakes the elaborate symphonic work, unlike the philistines disseminating digital instruments through their metal in a feeble attempt at ennobling themselves. There’s a great variety of guest vocalists and instrumentalists performing roles, guests who traverse the heavy musical spectrum: from Mnemic frontman Guillaume Bideau, to Orphaned Land‘s Kobi Farhi, to frequent Jeff Loomis collaborator Christine Rhoades, all the way to extreme vox capably handled by scene legends David Vincent (Morbid Angel), Mikael Stanne (Dark Tranquillity) Attila Csihar (Mayhem, Sunn O)))) and even Shining‘s Kvarforth. Accordingly, the vocals are extremely diverse, matched only by the scope of a full orchestra combined with a core band, legendary instrumentalists such as Arjen Lucassen and the excellent yet unheralded guitarist Adrian Martinot.

It’s a testament to the eye of this storm, le Pape, that Melted Space isn’t a Sumatra Andaman-esque disaster of nature under the pressure of such pretension and personalities. His song-writing pen proves just as hefty as his bollocks and his centripetal powers keep each of his elaborate components coordinated and whirling in unison. A classically-trained composer and multi-instrumentalist, he handles the piano, keyboards and arrangements. There are many demonstrations of his writing prowess throughout, harmonizing the orchestra with more traditional metal dynamics. The opening to “Titania” layers airy violins over a chugging guitars and blasting percussion, and “Hopeless Crime” transitions between melodies on the strings and on the guitar very agreeably, particularly at the 2:47 mark where Martinot’s guitar solo absolutely shreds. “No Need to Fear” is stylized as a lullaby with its xylophone-heavy opening, and the subtler “Glass Castles Beast” demonstrates some good creeping tension, facilitated through Farhi’s soft clean vocals, Kvarforth’s deranged whisper and haunting piano keys.

Despite clear highlights, it’s in the song-writing that my principal criticism resides. There’s a fundamental competition between the two driving focuses of the songs. The first is the impressive attempt at fusing classicism with metal, aiming to bridge the two with pomp, circumstance and musical integrity. The second is the entirely-reasonable endeavor towards popular appeal and hooks. On neither count is the music poorly-written, but taken together, one can be seen to be undermining the other. The spotlight of Avantasia under Tobi Sammet is always on its obscenely catchy hooks, with everything else orientated around those. The Great Lie drifts uneasily between seriousness and commercialism, never settling on either. Many of the record’s weakest moments are where the choruses strive to set their melodic anchors down but just aren’t catchy enough to guarantee repeat listens, such as on “Called by the Queen” and “No Need to Fear.” Likewise, efforts at metal-classical sincerity dilute the hooks as le Pape endeavors to incorporate both.

Melted Space_2015

This is compounded by vocalists who have been given similarly confused instructions. Bideau is a prime example of this: he strips back, lacking passion in “Called by the Queen,” but sees much greater success when hamming it up on “Titania.” The obligatory ballad, “A God is Dead,” solely features Manuel Munoz from the defunct French band The Old Dead Tree, and he sounds great in the verses. But on the swells, when compelled to heighten the emotion and stretch his pipes, he just sounds strained, as though he’s been asked to reach beyond his natural range.

This is a shame as there’s no denying the talented cast employed for The Great Lie when allowed to do what they’re best at. The extreme vocalists all stand out as they remain within their comfort zones. Stanne deserves a special mention as his completely unfuckable-with growls are highlights on two of the best tracks – “Hopeless Crime” and “Titania.” On the former particularly, his bridges are underpinned by cool melodic death riffs and it concludes with an effective harmony between himself and Bideau. In addition, Rhoades offers female faux-operatics and is permitted to emote, really getting her lungs and vocal chords into the material – she’s excellent.

There’s legs in the idea of a metal opera incorporating extremity and I appreciate what was achieved here, with impressive orchestrations and solid metal elements. If anything, there could be more aggression to complement the harsh vocals, and expand the already-epic scope of Melted Space (or even a metal opera exclusively with extreme vocals, how cool would that be?!). Trem-picking and blast beatz would further unleash and highlight the likes of Kvarforth. But the greatest deficiency is that the record is snared between the lovable and the sincere: the hooks and the respectability. Address this and le Pape will truly be able to demonstrate his compositional dexterity between his two composite genres.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320kbps MP3
Label: Sensory Records
Releases Worldwide: October 16, 2015

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  • Wilhelm

    I don’t understand going through the effort to hire a full orchestra, writing, arranging orchestral parts, etc… and then just flattening the dynamics. Most people, I think, would not hear a difference between this and some artificial orchestration. But that aside the song was alright, it needs a better, or at least a more powerful, female singer, some more guitar behind the chorus and a more overall meaty sound, otherwise it sounds like this (pop-power metal).


      Agreed. Everything about this seems so wrongheaded, from treating an orchestra like a metalcore band to including David Vincent for some reason.

      • Monsterth Goatom

        I think this unusual Classical-Metal hybrid fails the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups challenge. Metal and Classical just don’t go together like peanut butter and chocolate. “You got your Classical in my Metal!”

        Now Symphonic Metal, that’s different. As the phrase makes clear, “symphonic” is modifying, enhancing, adding to, the metal. Needs more “Trem-picking and blast beatz” indeed.

      • Norfair Legend

        Somebody has to hit the backstage snack table wrapped in nothing but a towel.

    • WalrusKing

      I listened to the sample track before reading the review and thought the orchestration was artificial. Probably would have sounded a lot better without the overproduction. Also agree about the female singer. She didn’t sound bad, but wasn’t exciting or interesting. I did dig the death vocals, but they were few and far between.

  • I think Avantasia’s hold on the Throne of Metal Opera is safe.

  • Kronos

    I might listen to this just for Stanne.

    • As much as I like Stanne and Dark Tranquillity, he sounds out of place on the embedded track here.

      • Kronos

        You’re right, they didn’t give him anything to work with here. What a shame, he’s my favorite vocalist ever.

  • You wot m8?

    This is weird. Really, really weird. I kinda just want to listen to it a bunch out of morbid curiosity, but I fear the buildup of cheese would be too much.

  • Dr. A.N. Grier

    What in the hell?? So much name-dropping for this? Are we in fucking Bizarro World?!

    • Should we have click-baited it better? Maybe something like: Kvarforth joins the opera, and you won’t believe what happens next!

      • Dr. A.N. Grier

        Yes, the click-baiting was not up to company standards. I have no idea how we are suppose to implement reliable quality assurance when the ball is dropped this badly. I suggest we create AMG commercials and run them on the AMG YouTube channel.

        • I can finally launch my weekly show: How to Survive a Bladed Encounter With Angry Readers.

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            If only Dave Brockie were still around to help produce this show.

          • In his tragic absence, I suggest we obtain Eli Roth.

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            Maybe he can bring some cannibals along.

          • Monsterth Goatom

            Nice. Will that run on the same day as the Unicorn Husbandry Hour?

          • Due to federal regulations, that has to air after midnight.

          • Monsterth Goatom

            Fair enough.

      • Monsterth Goatom

        “The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra is making a record with who???!!!”

        • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

          And then we punctuate every sentence with a gif of one or more cats doing cat stuff!

          • Grymm

            Or have every paragraph consist of one sentence.

            It seems to be a new trend on list-sites.

            I don’t know anyone who doesn’t find this at least a little annoying.

            Do you?

          • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

            Some people find it annoying indeed.
            But you won’t believe what THIS celebrity had to say about it!

      • “Metalheads feel stupid for not hearing this one trick album!”

  • In all seriousness, one metal opera or whatever the hell you want to call it project that I really enjoyed, but never went anywhere was Aina – Days of Rising Doom. For once, there was a pretty talented core of musicians who knew how to make “metal” that also had elements of full scale orchestration and telling a story. That album was loaded with some of the best symphonic/power metal of the early 00s. “The Beast Within” would easily make a top 10 power metal song list in my opinion. Yet there was only ever one album. If you’ve never heard this album, I strongly recommend it!

  • So I like opera. I own opera albums. Mostly German composers. I don’t think this qualifies as opera. I’m really tired of having people say rock opera when what they mean is musical. It’s an easy test. Does anyone speak during the piece? Then it’s not a fucking opera. Are people singing lines of boring dialogue? It’s a fucking opera.

    Here’s what needs to happen. The Human Abstract just did a very solid job of taking the moonlight sonata and making metal out of it, while retaining its orchestral core. It’s a thing of beauty. Someone needs to have them make Ring des Nibelungen into a metal opera. Then we’ll have one. And crap like this can be relegated to symphonic metal where it belongs.

  • sir_c

    Less violins more violence