The concept of the "metal opera" is one that has been growing in popularity over the last decade or more. Several artists have tried to assemble the cast of musicians and singers to make the idea work, and most have found some degree of success along the way. Tobias Sammet, months away from the release of another Avantasia album, springs to mind. As does Timo Tolkki, whose Avalon project debuted to critical acclaim. But there are subtle differences between each project, whether it be in the personnel or the overall arc of the music. And Melted Space, spearheaded by Pierre Le Pape is changing the script in his own way. For in his metal opera, the hired guns aren't always the ones you'd expect. With a combination of soaring voices and those known for powerful growls, The Great Lie sets itself apart from the pack, and forges a new path.
If you've arrived at this point looking for an album that is either shy or timid, you've come to the wrong place. Le Pape, who handles the keyboard and piano duties, along with conducting all orchestrations, has gone to great lengths to make the album as boisterous and over the top as possible. With the help of The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, he's done that and more. There is something inherently majestic about the use of a full orchestra, and it shines through every step of the way. Even when paired with the blaring guitars and blasting drums, it manages to take a starring role, if albeit a subtle one.
But along with the magic La Pape creates in string and keys, his enlisted troop of guest vocalists bring something otherworldly to the project. Whether it's the male/female dyanmics of the straightforward Called By The Queen, or the laundry list of some of the best metal vocalists in the world that adorns the mix of No Need To Fear, La Pape is seeing his vision through. Where he steps out of the shadow of operatic metal projects that have come before, though, is on the aforementioned No Need To Fear, where pristine, pitch perfect melodies are shattered by the harshest of vocal lines. It's something that, until now, hasn't been fully harnessed by composers. Here, it permeates the album, adding an unexpected and wholly successful element. It's a perfect example of going off the page, and throwing caution to the wind.
Also of note, the pairing of light and dark elements allows each individual vocalist to put his or her stamp on their respective parts. It'd be a dangerous and likely mistaken decision to ask any of these voices to do something they simply wouldn't do in their given projects. To that point, Le Pape got the singers he wanted, to sing the parts their voice is suited for, and bring a unique sound to the table. Be it the angelic tones of Clémentine Delauney, or the signature tone of Mikael Stanne, it bears repeating: no one could mimic them, nor should anyone be asked to. Instead, you bring the best out of each and every contributor, something this album has done with great skill and ease. Trust And Betrayal, which features Stanne alongside Guillaume Bideau, is as powerful a collaboration as you'll ever hear. Soothing at times, foreboding at others, it's an interesting cross-section of an album with many different ones. But, unlike other albums cut from a similar cloth, it is impossible to call one track or the next a microcosm of the record as a whole; they all vary, from mood to vocals, in drastic ways.
To take the old paradigm and change it in such a significant and enlightening way is a feat in and of itself. La Pape has succeeded in making a metal opera, or opera metal, all his own. This isn't meant to cast aspersions on any of the artists who have tried this formula before, or those who will undoubtedly try it soon after. But the cast of characters assembled here is second to none, and their contributions to the overall sound of the album deserve the highest praise. There is no compromise, no performance that is anything less than stellar, to be found anywhere on the disc. That goes down as a credit not only to Le Pape, but to each and every member of this ensemble. And, at least for the cycle of promoting this album, Melted Space will encompass all of them. From vision to recruitment to execution, The Great Lie is a one in a million success, one that won't be replicated any time soon.
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- David Vincent (Morbid Angel)
- Attila Csihar (Sunn O))), Mayhem)
- Mikael Stanne (Dark Tranquillity)
- Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon)
- Ailyn Gimenéz (Sirenia)
- Kobi Fahri (Orphaned Land)
- Mariangela Demurtas (Tristania)
- Guillaume Bideau (Mnemic)
- Niklas Kvarforth (Shining)
- Sylvain Coudret (Soilwork)
- Adrien Grousset (Hacride)
- Christine Rhoades (Jeff Loomis)
- Manuel Munoz (The Old Dead Tree)
- Arnaud Strobl (Carnival In Coal)
- Clémentine Delauney (Visions Of Atlantis)
- Virginie Goncalves (Kells)