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Spheric Universe Experience: Unreal

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.

Track Listing
1) White Willow
2) Down Memory Lane
3) Lakeside Park
4) 3rd Type
5) Near Death Experience
6) Lost Ghost
7) Dragged
8) O.B.E.
9) Tomorrow

Added: August 27th 2009
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 3849
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Spheric Universe Experience: Unreal
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2009-08-27 19:28:17
My Score:

Thanks to the forward moving efforts of the mighty Dream Theater the world's Progressive Metal listeners are able to enjoy rising star after rising star based on their accomplishments. Proof that the genre's realm is only getting more interesting as time marches on comes the band Spheric Universe Experiment who hail from France and have delivered an incredibly tasty album with "Unreal" courtesy of Sensory Records. While this is the bands third release I had to admit that their material had escaped me until this time but if I am reading the critiques of the recording properly it seems that I have jumped on board at the best possible time. It's safe to say that the band will appeal to you based on its super high melodic nature and big sounding choruses. We see this coming into play with my very favorite track on the recording "3rd Type" that found me playing air drums, guitar and singing along quite loudly much to my neighbors dismay I am sure. "Down Memory Lane" is another winner and an earlier track that showcases the bands abilities in the Melodic Metal realm. The showcase some deft technical skills during opener "White Willow" and some serious groove crushing with "Lost Ghost" that offers drama and mood that proves to be very effective.

The band is fronted by Frank Garcia who has a very powerful voice and one that stands out from the other Prog-Metal leaders that have come before him. I liked that aspect since it allowed him to remain more of an individual to my ears and not find me saying, "Oh he sounds like James LaBrie" or "he reminds me of Charlie Dominici" etc. The bands proves their salt with a very tasty instrumental jam in "O.B.E." which offers the listeners a little bit of everything from Metal to Jazz to brief drum solo fills and wonderful guitar riffing. My guess is that this one goes over as quite the killer in the live sense. It should easily appeal to those seeking out the more technical parts of the recording. The band is tight and sure seems to work together well which is to be expected after three albums and kudos are to be extended to the whole musical lineup which consists of John Drai (bass), Fred Colombo (keyboards), Christophe Briand (drums), and Vince Benaim (guitars). The guys don't overplay like some of the Progressive Metal bands out there today and that is not meant as a slight at all but is indeed a truth based on some of the groups just playing note after note and not finalizing the road that they were leading us down. The massive sounding album closes out with the epic "Tomorrow" which should become a fast favorite to anyone who is smart enough to pick the release up. It's safe to say that while there are now tons of Progressive Metal and Melodic Metal coming to the fore nowadays that Spheric Universe Experience is one that you should start paying a little more attention to. This is a sound recommendation for those fans of not only Dream Theater and Fates Warning but also for those that might find Kamelot to be their cup of tea as well. After hearing this one, I plan on looking back into their earlier works and hope that I am able to find it as impressive as I did "Unreal".

» Reader Comments:

Spheric Universe Experience: Unreal
Posted by Victor von Doom on 2009-08-28 05:38:34
My Score:

It´s the fourth album of the band, not third. Personally, I think it is the weekest one of the albums. The hooks in general are not as good as in the past, though it is in no way a bad album.
Biggest disappointment for me is that Garcia doesn´t do that much the high notes - disappointment because I believe he is strongest when he sings in the high registers.

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