"There are no keyboards on this album."
So was stated by the band Pestilence on their 1993 album Spheres, which is now part of Poland's Metal Mind Productions second wave of old Roadrunner releases that are being remastered & reissued. The reason that I bring up the quote above, is because the Dutch act on this album sort of took the road that Iron Maiden did a few years prior, which is utilize extensive use of guitar synthesizers in their music, rather than actual keyboards, which for better or worse, totally changed their sound. Prior Pestilence releases took the influences of the Florida death metal scene and bands like Obituary, Death, Morbid Angel, and Death, added in some technical guitar work and progressive attitude, and came up with their own signature sound. With Spheres, the band one-upped the technical aspect, but also decided to inject even more prog and jazz into their sound, and used Roland guitar synthesizers to help out, quite a bit actually. This album here is less brutal than previous releases, relying less on crushing riffs and more on subtle jazzy embellishments. Tunes like "Changing Perspectives", "Personal Energy", "Multiple Beings", and the title track, all contain that familiar aggression, but the riffs, while still being technical, lack the brutal crunch, instead the band take a more fusion type approach, with guitar synths providing the backdrop, and even the guitar solos are played through the Roland to give a keyboard or reed effect. Most of the songs are fairly short, in the 3-4 minute range, segued by some short instrumentals where Patrick Mameli & Patrick Uterwijk lay down brief & atmospheric synth laden guitar soundscapes. It's not until the CD's final track, "Demise of Time", where the two guitar slingers rip it up with some actual metal fretwork that recalled some of the blazing leads on Testimony of the Ancients.
Think of Spheres in the same vein as Rush's Signals (or even Power Windows for that matter)-of course, this is still a metal album, with Mameli's vocals still in that Death/Obituary type of growl, and the crashing, technical drum work of Marco Foddis (who also wrote all the bands lyrics). It just was a real 'about face' for the band. For the time, this album might have been a tad too odd and different, as metal bands in 1993, especially death metal bands, hadn't yet started to delve too far into prog rock territory, and this beast called Spheres certainly dove into prog, as well as jazz-fusion and ambient styles. With a constant wave of guitar synths, less brutal riffs, and relentless time & meter changes, the music here is quite sophisticated, but perhaps a little over the head of the Pestilence fanbase at the time it was released. Looking back, most fans now have 'gotten it' many years later, and see Spheres for the classic that it is. Metal Mind has done justice to this remaster, housing it in a nice digipack (which really lets the artwork of Dan Seagrave stand out) with an essay from Deron Miller, full lyrics, and improved sound. Plus you get some live and remixed cuts as an extra added bonus.
And, there were no keyboards used on this album...
1. Mind Reflections
2. Mulitple Beings
3. Level of Perception
4. Aurian Eyes
5. Soul Search
6. Personal Energy
7. Voices from Within
9. Changing Perspectives
11. Demise of Time
12. Demise of Time-reminx (bonus track)
13. Soul Search-remix (bonus track)
14. Mind Reflections-live (bonus track)
15. Multiple Beings-live (bonus track)