Nifty. Another band with incredible technical skills and Progressive tendencies meditating on the reality of the universe through music. And I just did CANVAS SOLARIS last month.
SPHERIC UNIVERSE EXPERIENCE was formed in 1999 as GATES OF DELIRIUM. After some line-up shifts in 2001, they changed their name to AMNESYA before a major line-up change in 2002 necessitated another name change, this time to their current moniker. “Mental Torments” is their second full-length and my first experience with the band.
The album doesn’t start out on a good note and the contrast becomes immediately evident. Off the bat we get some tepid, Progressive-yet-not-progressive stuff reminiscent of many DREAM THEATER/SYMPHONY X knock offs. Around the three minute mark in “So Cold,” however, they drop the vocals and go on a fantastic instrumental run that reminds me a lot—sometimes suspiciously so—of the guitar/keyboard interplay on ANDROMEDA’s debut. “Now Or Never” repeats the trend of starting with toothless, rehashed Progressive before taking us for a ride when the instruments really shine.
And so we go for the rest of the album. “Mental Torments” is really unremarkable when Frank Garcia’s singing and the instruments simply support him. He’s a competent singer, but normal for the style and by no means up to keeping out attention between instrumental adventures. Fortunately, the further we get into the album the less and less he seems to show up. Vince Benaim and Fred Colombo are virtuosos on guitar and keyboard, respectively and almost always put enough thought into their solos and compositions that it’s not simply a masturbatory talent show.
This is a big recommendation for fans of CANVAS SOLARIS, SPIRAL ARCHITECT, SPASTIK INK and ANDROMEDA’s first album. Two of the songs break the ten minute mark and only one is less than six minutes. You’ll have to deal with some spacy SYMPHONY X worship, but you’ll find some these tellurian musicians are playing cosmic music on an empyreal scale.
Also, they get bonus points for using my favourite word, “sidereal,” in a song title. (Online March 31, 2006)