Pellek - Ocean of opportunity 4/5
2. Northern wayfarer
3. Sea of Okhotsk
4. Brigantine of tranquillity
5. Gods pocket
6. Stars and bullet holes
7. Sky odyssey
9. The last journey
While Pellek’s 2nd solo CD follows not even a full year from his debut, in many ways it sounds like a completely different project. ‘Bag of tricks’ was a very appreciable symphonic power metal CD that made up for its lack of originality with palpable enthusiasm and the help of an impressive roster of guest musicians.
‘Ocean of opportunity’ is in some ways the opposite side of the coin – no high profile guest musicians, a dedicated full-time band alongside Pellek himself, and ambition and creativity in spades.
Rather than following the existing template of power metal with the odd progressive touch, the songs mostly have an open, expansive feel that the remaining power metal elements augment rather than dominate. The orchestral and progressive arrangements are ramped up considerably, and the songs stretch out in many myriad ways that often belie their fairly standard 4-5 minute run times. Opener “Elucidation” goes some way to establishing the new modus operandi, as it forgoes the expected double-bass assault for a gradual approach that introduces the sweeping orchestral nature of the CD with a few bursts of speed that prelude the varying tempos to follow.
One quibble that came with ‘Bag of tricks’ was that, in amongst all the guest singers it didn’t feel like Pellek was getting room to push his astounding vocal range to the limits. Problem solved here, as while he for the most part remains in the soaring upper register, he delivers a few rumbling low notes and some crushing, controlled falsettos powerful enough even to call the legendary/infamous Daniel Heiman of Lost Horizon to mind.
The singer also shows his hand as a capable keyboard player, with many breathy piano segments scattered throughout the songs to add that extra touch of class without detracting from their metal credentials. But despite his expected prominence and sharing the band’s name, it shouldn’t be seen as a one-man show, as the 3 musicians Pellek has assembled are as much part of the success as the man at the front, with unknown guitarist Patrick Fallang in particular often the star of the show with his intricate and melodious lead playing.
In comparison to the debut, which, without knocking it, was something of a paint-by-numbers affair, ‘Ocean of opportunity’ oscillates nicely through an unpredictable catalogue of songs that compliment each other well and form a fluid body of work that successfully evokes the feeling of the journey of discovery expressed in the lyrical concept. In many ways it feels like Pellek’s true debut CD; ‘Bag of tricks’ got him out there as a solo artist, but this far more weighty and ambitious sophomore effort is one that shows both he and his gifted bandmates have arrived as another impressive player on the Norwegian prog/power metal circuit.
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