This album brings a whole new meaning to the term “rock opera”.

As the name suggests, this 1993 album is the second product of the partnership between Texan singer Meat Loaf (real name Marvin Lee Aday) and songwriter Jim Steinman, who has been responsible in the past for such hits as Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart”. Sixteen years after the release of its predecessor, Back Into Hell picks off where the original finished: with the sort of grandiose, flourishing music which is closer in some places to the Broadway stage than to a hit album which sold over 14 million copies.

The action kicks off with perhaps the album’s best-known song, 12-minute “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)”, a platinum-ceritified Grammy-winning ode to the difficulties of love. In this, the album starts as it means to go on – in the fashion of what Steinman has taken to calling “Wagnerian Rock”, with crashing drums, melodic guitar and dramatic vocals. Just what “that” is, however, remains a mystery.

In the following song, “Life is A Lemon And I Want My Money Back”, the album departs somewhat from the lovelorn tone of the previous song and the original album: this song is a cynical, hard-rocking consideration of the fleeting nature of the good things in life. “Rock And Roll Dreams Come Through” is a somewhat happier reflection on the triumph of music over difficulties, and “It Just Won’t Quit” is the slowed-down lament of someone afflicted with lovesickness. This theme is continued in the happy, catchy “Out of The Frying Pan (And Into The Fire)”, which likens love to a heatwave.

The album takes a slightly different turn in the 10-minute “Objects In The Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are”, which reels off a list of figures from the childhood of a narrator in a similarly grand manner to the first track. “Wasted Youth” is a rather sinister skit containing Steinman’s habitual appearance on the album, telling an entertaining story of a boy and his guitar. This leads into the upbeat, anarchic “Everything Louder Than Everything Else”. “Good Girls Go To Heaven (Bad Girls Go Everywhere)” is the forgotten gem of the album, an impressive saxaphone-ridden prayer of damned teenagers everywhere. “Back Into Hell” is an unimpressive instrumental track, and “Lost Boys and Golden Girls” a slow, sad lament for, well, lost boys and golden girls.

Back Into Hell is not an album that has aged: every element of it is just as technically impressive as it was on its release, and neither Meat Loaf’s voice nor Steinman’s writing fails to impress. Musical theatre fans will appreciate the drama and the story, but this is not an album for anyone who likes their music short and simple.