They say 'third time's the charm', and it's certainly applicable with album number three from France's Spheric Universe Experience, titled Unreal. Their previous release, Anima, was strong enough, but almost seemed to be forgotten by the progressive metal faithful shortly after it came out. It's safe to say that this probably won't be the case here with Unreal, a splendid collection of songs that shows the maturity of this band, especially from a songwriting perspective. They've always been able to play the heck out of their instruments, but here they've added in some memorable melodies and catchy musical arrangements which will convince listeners to come back again and again.
"White Willow" kicks things off in grand Dream Theater styled prog-metal fashion, heavy riffs, technical guitar & keyboard passages, tricky rhythms, and anthemic vocal hooks all tell the story, but it's on the second number "Down Memory Lane" where things really start to click. This is an instantly memorable melodic metal tune, complete with a great chorus and clever instrumental sections. Though Franck Garcia still lets plenty of his native accent to seep through, the guy does have a powerful voice, as he displays on the crunchy "Lakeside Park" (no relation to the classic Rush piece) and the ultra complex "3rd Type", the latter featuring some stunning unison guitar/bass/keyboard passages and acrobatic drum fills. For a great slice of dramatic, symphonic metal, take a taste of "Lost Ghost", or dive into the boiling, bubbling metal cauldron that is "Dragged". The epic 'Tomorrow" closes out the album in majestic fashion, this one a haunting progressive metal journey highlighted by powerful vocal melodies, touching piano, sweeping synths, and beefy guitar riffs.
There are a lot of strong prog-metal releases coming out these days, and in these tough economic times it can be hard to decide where your hard earned dollars will be best spent. If you are a fan of the genre, and want to explore some of the newer acts on the scene, this one should find its way into your collection.
1) White Willow
2) Down Memory Lane
3) Lakeside Park
4) 3rd Type
5) Near Death Experience
6) Lost Ghost