MELODIUS DEITE - Episode II: Voyage Through The World Of Fantasy
Itís always quite the adventure to discover bands from countries that you havenít encountered any before. In the case of Thailand, it is high time, considering that it is the 20th most populated country in the world, with about sixty-seven million people living in this place known as a popular holiday destination and for its tasty cuisine. But who knows, Melodius Deiteís second album Episode II: Voyage Through The World Of Fantasy might add Thailand also on the international heavy metal map.
Founded in 2007, the first album Dream On came the following year. Back then the band was into melodic power metal, but as their skills improved, they decided to turn into a more progressive direction. It took them until late 2014 to come up with the successor, a double-CD album that might have fitted very justly on a single disc.
So a lot of material has been amassed in the six years in between albums, and although at times one might wish for the band to act in a more compact way, it is astonishing how much incredible quality they managed to pack onto the album. The first CD starts with the two and a half minutes long intro Entering The Gate, a classical piece narrated by a women in really heavily accented English. Itís well meant but utterly takes too long. But the first regular track, Land Of Fantasy, is making up for that small initial flaw. Despite its generous length of nearly ten minutes, you wonít find any superfluous second within this high speed exercise in progressive power metal. Angra, Dream Theater and Symphony X are quoted as reference points, but I made out also a lot of Rhapsody Of Fire. Taken by itself the quintetís style may not seem overly original at first, but itís their combination of the playful power metal ŗ la Angra with the more progressive orientation of Dream Theater which allows Melodius Deite to create highly entertaining fantasy metal that never lacks progressive finesse. It helps of course that the musicians are playing in an incredibly professional way, with the tight production furthermore enhancing this great impression.
The following The Dawn Of Journey is another kind of intro, this time over five minutes long, and despite possibly good composition skills (yes, the musicians made it into a renowned music college), the synthetic instrumentation feels off and makes the track feel too long, just like the previous intro. But do not despair, because onwards from here, there will be no more cause for complaint. Territory Of Memories (Atlantis) is another long track at nine minutes, and once again shows off this ornate kind of metal played at a very high level of intensity. The albumís highlight comes with Civilization, a sixteen minute epic concluding the first CD. On this mammoth track, the band is showing all its hands, from yet again a classical intro - thankfully shorter this time - to their well known brand of progressive power metal. Yet this time the progressive element takes even more centre role, with the band quoting at one time even Edvard Griegís Peer Gynt Suite. So Savatage have done this more than a quarter century earlier, but it was still quite unexpected to hear this Norwegian composer reworked by a heavy metal band from Thailand. Incidentally, there is even a bass solo on Civilization. So there is probably nothing left out.
The second CD is a little shorter and features two longer and two more compact tracks. On the five minute Pyramids Of Eden, Melodius Deite is showing an unusual side, proving they can finish a song in an radio airplay friendly time. And while I really do love this song, I am grateful that the band is usually indulging in longer compositions, especially since they are adept enough to fill their songs with lots of ideas. Only the thirteen minute Sailing Around The World feels a little long as it is an instrumental track that is harder to follow than the vocal material.
Episode II: Voyage Through The World Of Fantasy seems to be some kind of concept album, with the band making fantastical mind journey through ancient locations (Aztecs, Alexander the Great, Egypt,...), and although the concept feels a little strained at times, itís the music that counts. And in that regard, Melodius Deite have made no mistakes. Had the album been stripped of the two intros, then it would have fitted perfectly well on a single disc and would even have possibly gotten the maximum grade. But still, this is one of the most refreshing and surprising progressive power metal albums I have heard in a very long time.