MeltedSpaceThis album should have had me running to the hills screaming and trying to distance myself as far away from it as possible. Melted Space are a project that were originally formed by Pierre Le Pape of Wormfood and essentially this is a symphonic, power metal, concept album that’s not even a million miles away from rock opera in style. Yes that does sound kind of ghastly until you consider the massive cast-list that are joining in on this third album by the project. Instrumentally for starters you have The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra so you know that at least even if this is pompous as hell it’s going to be well played! Then there are plenty of other musicians including what I guess is the traditional band who play normally with Pepe. A few others pop up here and there including Arjen Anthony Lucassen who is never one to shy away from such projects. It is the vocalists though that really made me sit up and take notice even if they are playing the parts of demons, fairies and Greek gods! Among the ladies there are Ailyn Gimenéz (Sirenia), Mariangela Demurtas (Tristania), Clémentine Delauney (Visions Of Atlantis) and Virginie Goncalves (Kells) and if that doesn’t speak quality nothing does. As for the gents and you need some beastly vocals among such things, cop a load of the likes of Attila Csihar (Mayhem), Mikael Stanne (Dark Tranquillity), Niklas Kvarforth (Shining) and David Vincent (of, well let’s not go there). Well slap me around the face and call me Mabel this is one rock opera I had to have a part of and that’s without mentioning others from Soilwork, Carnival Of Coal, The Old Dead Tree, Mnemic, Hacride and Orphaned Land.

The incredibly ambitious album starts off in a way that has me shuddering as it is immediately taken too close to power metal territories via the crooning voice of Arno Strobl joined by Ailyn as they play Dante and Titania. The story by the way, you are going to have to discover for yourself but the gang’s all here from Azael, Loki, Apollo, Hagen, Hope, Thanatos, Parcifal and Baba Yaga (yeah that lot mixing does not make the utmost sense). Things are a bit too la de da really on the first few numbers and some necessary bite is finally injected with the appearance of Vincent, Csihar and Stanne. On ‘No Need To Fear’ the keyboard melody of which actually being very reminiscent of Dark T. When they do get their bits in it is obvious that they are really into the drama and completely going over the top like baddies at the pantomime. It’s tongue in cheek but good fun as a contradiction to the gorgeous tones of Mariangela. You really are going to need the CD booklet on this one so you can follow the parts and see exactly who is who. This is not an album made for a disposable digital download with just the music. The music and motions of dramatic flow do tend to correlate with the vocalist for instance ‘A God Is Dead’ is solely Apollo’s piece and Manuel Munoz of The Old Dead Tree lightens things considerably from the proceeding gallop and roars from Vincent’s ‘Terrible Fight.’

The questions all the Kvarforth fanboys are no doubt wondering is when old Nik who is playing Parcifal gets in on the action and it’s the second half of the album when he starts trading off with Orphaned Land’s Kobi Farhi as The Sphinx. Talk about hamming it up! From his opening words “Here I Am A Shadow From The Past’ it’s obvious he is making the most of this and becoming ever more rasping and strident I was by the time he appears on ‘The One Who Lost Faith’ reminded of Ren from a certain cartoon show and kind of expected him to growl out “Stimpy you idiooot!” Luckily the tale does not go off track. If you are a fan of symphonic metal ‘Hopeless Crime’ with Christine Rhoades who has connections to Nevermore, Sanctuary and Jeff Loomis band will be a stand out moment although it’s rather odd to hear Kvarforth in a number like this too.

I guess that illustrates how much the album will appeal to you as how many people like all the styles that are mixed up here? It’s likely to be too light for the death and black metal fans that’s for sure. But despite thinking that, over several plays it has definitely grown on me. If you are open-minded this could be a unique listening experience and it would make a great Christmas gift in the run up to pantomime season. Now I wonder if they are all going to get together and tour with it on stage? Now there’s a thought.

(7.5/10 Pete Woods)