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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Spheric Universe Experience

Unreal

Review by Gary Hill

I’ve always been fascinated about the progression of music. In this instance, I’m talking about one process in particular. It’s the way a new type of music (in this case a blending of prog and metal) can be created and seem very original. Then as more and more bands jump on the wagon it begins to feel clichéd and overdone. Why can’t more bands be original, you know. Well, the problem is that, even the early acts who pioneered the musical style suffer from this form of imitation. So, everything is diluted. Such is the case with this disc. This band is still one of the best practitioners of the craft. The problem is, since I reviewed their last disc this music has become so oversaturated that I’m reaching the point of “done” with it. So, as good as this is – and it is quite good – it is brought down by the saturation.


This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
White Willow
Trippy, ambient, space meets psychedelic textures open this. The cut grows gradually from there, turning quite electronic. The rhythmic element that emerges is almost like a funky Kraftwerk. Then it powers out to some screaming hot metal riffing from there. It launches into something that's perhaps on the metal side of Dream Theater. When it drops to the vocal movement, it's more like the kind of sounds Dream Theater do, without that more metallic bias. The vocals are considerably different, though. There are some cool bits of keyboards dancing over the type of the next metal section. They drop away as some more extreme metal vocals emerge. Then it resolves to a triumphant sounding melodic prog movement with seriously soaring vocals. This works through a number of changes from there. Parts are more in line with extreme metal. Other things land closer to the prog end of the spectrum. There are definitely more Dream Theater-like moments here. This cut has some seriously powerhouse type segments.
Down Memory Lane
This one crosses the bridge. It’s too extreme metal for my tastes. That said, there is some amazing prog rock at places along this route, too.
Lakeside Park
When I saw the title I thought they might be covering the old Rush song. That’s not the case. It’s a pretty heavy and rather crazed piece of music that’s not all that different from the other stuff we’ve heard thus far. If anything, this is more pure metal. 
3rd Type
This track is far more pure prog rock than the stuff we’ve heard before. At times I’m reminded of Pink Floyd. Other bits make me think more seriously of Dream Theater. Whoever you hear as the references, though, this is a highlight of the set. There is a neo-classical, near metal jam later that’s quite cool and very epic in nature. 
Near Death Experience
This is a rather dark and yet quite pretty keyboard solo. 
Lost Ghost
Keyboards start this off and hold it for a while. Then they shift it out to some fairly metallic music that’s more in keeping with the rest of the disc. This is a powerful cut and another highlight of the set. It gets incredibly powerful at times. 
Dragged
I like this one a lot. In many ways it’s more contemplative and symphonic than a lot of the rest of the album. Yes, there’s still metal in the mix, but the prog concepts are more the order of the day here. The keyboard solo mid track is beautiful and overall this is a power anthem. 
O.B.E.
This instrumental in many ways is pure metal. That said, there’s a killer jazz jam in the middle of it.
Tomorrow
Not very different from the rest of the disc, this is, nonetheless, one of the more effective pieces of music. It’s a strong cut and a great way to end the set in style.
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