CD Reviews

Spheric Universe Experience – ‘Unreal’ Hot

Added by James Gaden     February 18, 2010    
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Third album from the French progressive rockers.


Let’s cut to the chase – this is a great album. Spheric Universe Experience are fantastic live band and if they’ve not quite managed to nail that on CD before, with ‘Unreal’ they’ve finally come of age, presenting an album that’s a dream (theater) for fans of progressive metal.

‘Unreal’ is the French band’s third album, and builds on the success of 2006’s ‘Anima’. The band have changed drummers since then, with Christophe Briand replacing Nico Muller; otherwise the nucleus of S.U.E., with vocalist Franck Garcia and keyboard player Fred Colombo lining up alongside guitarist Vince Benaim and bassist John Drai (who formed the band as Gates Of Delerium back in 1999), remains as it was when they cut their debut ‘Mental Torments’ back in 2004.

Despite having all the trappings of a progressive metal album – the multi-time changes, generally lengthy songs (nine in 49 minutes, although ‘Near Death Experience’ is a sub-two minute keyboard interlude), and extended guitar/keyboard workouts, ‘Unreal’ is an extremely accessible clutch of songs. It’s also a very cohesive album too. Although the majority of the material comes from the pen of Benaim, virtually everyone in the band gets a music writing credit – it’s not often the vocalist gets the sole credit for coming up with an instrumental – and the songs all blend together to create a unified and quite distinctive sound.

Although there’s not a duff track on offer, the highlight for me is ‘3rd Type’ – a great galloper of a song, with some glorious vocal harmonies from Garcia and a solo to die for from Benaim as the song reaches its climax. Elsewhere, shades of Evergrey haunt ‘Lost Ghost’ and ‘Lakeside Park’, and the subtleties of Porcupine Tree and aggression of Zero Hour vie for attention as other songs skip from light to dark and back again. And ‘O.B.E.’ is a short jazz rock work-out for the instrumentalists to have some fun before the monumental ‘Tomorrow’ rounds things off.

Spheric Universe Experience may still be relative unknowns at the moment, but ‘Unreal’ should change all that. The dog’s sphericals, indeed!

John Tucker


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