Spheric Universe Experience - Mental Torments

Hailing from France, comes a new progressive metal group called Spheric Universe Experience. Despite the strange name, this band has got some chops and should appeal greatly to fans of bands like Dream Theater, Majestic Vanguard, Shadow Gallery, and Pain of Salvation. 

Right from the opening track, "So Cold", the band sucks you in with their infectious technical guitar playing and drumming, their huge choruses, and Franck Garcia's powerful and passionate vocals. While the band has that progressive rock side that noodles around with their guitar playing and keyboards, they do dish out the aggressive metal side as well with some very hefty guitars and screaming solos.

The second track, "Now or Never", the killer instrumental third track, "Burning Box Gala", and the fourth track, "Saturated Brain", continue to find the band hitting on all cylinders. The rest of the album, while still very solid, seems to have a few moments here and there that kinda make me lose focus. But don't think it's throw away material. The band still continues to mesh their brilliant brand of melodic and technical metal. The latter songs are just a little less memorable. The final three tracks are actually much more progressive in nature and have long instrumental passages that bring out more of their Dream Theater and Shadow Gallery influences.  So if you have the patience, you might like the second half of the album better. Speaking of instrumental passages, the band includes three instrumental tracks on this disc that clock in at over 16 minutes total, in addition to all the long instrumental parts within the other songs. 

The version I have here is the U.S. version released by Nightmare Records that has a bonus track on it called "Sidereal Revolution" that the European version doesn't have. And for those of you that may have the band's 2003 demo, The Burning Box, this is essentially the same release but with a different song order and an extra instrumental track called "Halleygretto".  Production on the album is very good and the lyrics deal a lot with love, grief, and pain.  They are not overly depressive or anything though.  

If you are starving for more music in the progressive genre, you really can't go wrong with this release.  This is a band that has the potential to really turn some heads, and if they stick around they could be one of the major players in the coming years.

Rating: 87/100

Review: Matt Morrow

Label: Nightmare Records

Total Songs: 9

Total Time: 69:06

Tracklisting: 1. So Cold, 2. Now or Never, 3. Burning Box Gala, 4. Saturated Brain, 5. Moonlight, 6. Halleygretto, 7. Mental Torments, 8. Sidereal Revolution, 9. Echoes of the Stars.

Best Songs: Tracks 1, 2, & 3.

Band Lineup: Frédéric Colombo - Keyboards, Jonathan Drai - Bass, Franck Garcia - Vocals, Vince Benaïm - Guitar, Ranko Muller - Drums.

Band Website: http://www.sphericuniversexp.com