Spheric Universe Experience: Anima
Spheric Universe Experience - Anima - [Replica Records]


French bands just seem to come out the woodworks these days! I knew the country had some decent metal bands in the past, but mostly in the heavier side of metal, such as Scarve or similar death/core bands. It seems that country also has its say now in the prog metal genre, and this, the second release by Spheric Universe Experience, is a strong representative indeed.

It's quite safe to say this is safely located on the Dream Theater side of prog metal, meaning very technically proficient, melodic, complex and well-produced. The band puts a lot of emphasis on strong melodies, most brought in by the combination of the mostly high-pitched vocalist and classical music tinged keyboard work.

"Anima" starts off brilliantly with the complex but not overly so "Sceptic". The sound is fantastic for this genre, very clean and crisp, with the exact crunch in the guitars. The use of the sequencers in with the more analog sounding ones works out great. There's no one to fault here for this technical ability, playing is top notch from everyone.

There's a short yet impressive instrumental piece, and then an even stronger cut called "The Inner Guest", which starts out sounding very much like Dream Theater yet picks up speed and goes into a different direction. Extra kudos for the drumming on this one, energetic and complex, it has the perfect platform for the band's music. The mid-section bass-drums section is just pure prog virtuosity, and then the keyboardist once more shows off his considerable talent.

One thing I liked about this album is that though this is certainly heavy and quite aggressive at times, the basis is quite visibly classic prog rock, the band just uses the right melodic flourishes to make this work, and that's something some prog bands in the 70's got right, but a lot of the contemporary prog bands just can't seem to do right.

Spheric Universe Experience sure invested this release with plenty of thought, including spoken passages in several languages and several cinematic sounding bridges, but from my point of view, it's all secondary to the music itself, and because they have that nailed, this works. "Neptune's Revenge" is another example of this, with some of the fastest drumming in the album and several great riffs too.

So, no point in repeating oneself - great prog metal album, impressive playing, this probably has everything prog fans are looking for.

Alon Miasnikov

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