Isn't it interesting how certain bands and their works can sometimes promise so much but deliver so little? A prime example of this is Melted Space and their latest album, 'The Great Lie'. The cover art's impressive. So is the array of contributing talent with the participation of musical luminaries such as Arjen Lucassen of Ayreon et al fame, Dark Tranquillity's Mikael Stanne, Morbid Angel's David Vincent, Serenity's Clementine Delauney and Kobi Farhi from Orphaned Land, not to mention The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. It's fair to say that expectations are primed to anticipate something quite spectacular. Unfortunately, 'The Great Lie' transpires to be reified proof that gathering an ensemble of talented musicians, and dressing up your completed work with eye-catching artwork, does not necessarily translate into great music. After all, it's all about the music, right? At best, this is quite good; at worst, laughable. And, after a promising start during the first three or four songs, it starts to become a rather plodding album that, at times, teeters around that perennially dreaded "average" judgement; a record that provokes little emotional reaction for the better or worse.
On the plus side, there are some nice melodies in both the music and vocal lines and, as already mentioned, the album has a strong start. However, it soon descends into mediocrity and (unintentional) humour. There's too much repetition of key motifs - sure, it binds together the work as a conceptual one, although it also becomes a little tiresome, particularly when some of those central melodies are not that strong in the first place. And what of the unintentional moments of comedy? Well, take 'Glass Castle's Beast' as a prime example. The growled vocals plus lyrics combo on this song are simply ridiculous. It's the exact same thing in 'The One Who Lost the Faith', which had me laughing out loud and heartily, for all the wrong reasons. Whoever's responsible for voicing the line "What did you do, you crazy man?" sounds like a demented Arnold Schwarzenegger with a bad throat. And to make sure the humour's hammered home good and proper, our deranged Arnie impersonator also growls "What will you do, you crazy man?" towards the end of the song. This is terrible. Utterly terrible.
Then there are some mismatched vocals... mismatched with the music, that is; specifically, growls where growls don't belong. Fair enough, Subterranean Masquerade once utilised Paul Kuhr's growls to potent effect over mellow passages of music where you'd least expect to hear a death voice. However, they, somehow, make it work. 2005's 'Suspended Animation Dreams' is one of the finest prog-metal albums ever made. Here, it just sounds laughable, and it's not always the quality of the growl that's at fault; rather, they're all too often misplaced. Further, there are some substandard growls that sound more like intense bursts of gurgling. The clean male/female vocal interplay and harmonies work fairly well, even if the male voice is a little on the nasal side at time. However, 'The Great Lie' is an epic failure in the execution of its polyvocal, multi-character approach, and a long, long way from Arjen Lucassen's Ayreon masterpieces (ironically, as I mentioned earlier, the man himself contributes to the album, with a guitar solo, dulcimer solo and synth solo). It's a genuine shame his work has been sunk by the aforementioned Arnie growler.
Unfortunately, there are too many generic metal elements brought into play here, with an orchestral layer bubbling away underneath, with little thought behind how one might complement the other. Instead, it comes across, predominantly, as a series of compositionally average metal clichés that've had some (often uninteresting) orchestral parts slapped on top. The most inexplicable lack on 'The Great Lie', though, is in the vocal department, when considering the substantial talent that's been recruited for the album. Ultimately, this is a record that doesn't live up to the promise and potential teased by the personnel involved. On paper, it promises to be an epic masterpiece, but it's marred by several moments of unintentional comedy, sloppy compositional choices, a subpar production/mix, and a degree of genericism. Please listen before you buy. Fortunately, it cost me nothing, apart from my time.
THE GREAT LIE
Review by Mark Holmes
2nd Oct 2015
1) Listen to the Song of Despair
2) Called by the Queen
3) No Need to Fear
4) Terrible Fight
5) A God is Dead
6) Trust & Betrayal
7) Glass Castle's Beast
8) Hopeless Crime
9) The One Who Lost the Faith
11) Lost Souls from the Other Side
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"On paper, it promises to be an epic masterpiece, but it's marred by several moments of unintentional comedy, sloppy compositional choices, a subpar production/mix, and a degree of genericism."