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Articles Home » 2005 Articles » Spheric Universe Experience - 2005 Mental Torments
Spheric Universe Experience - 2005 Mental Torments

Vince Benaim - guitars
John Drai - bass
Fred Colombo - keyboards
Franck Garcia - vocals
Nico 'Ranko' Muller - drums

This French quintet originally began life as an instrumental band in 1999, with Vince Benaim, John Drai and their mate Sam being founding members of what was then called Gates Of Delirium. Recognising the need to round out their sound in 2001 they incorporated vocalist Alex and keyboardist Fred Colombo and gigged extensively. Even a demo CD was recorded. This combination, now going under the name of Amnesya, didn't last the distance and the band broke up in 2002 due to the usual 'creative differences'. The three remaining members John, Vince and Fred continued on as Spheric Universe Experience and wrote a full album in early 2003 with session vocalist Franck Garcia taking care of the vocal duties. Essentially this was a demo and it landed them a deal with Intromental Management in Denmark. In late 2003 the band recorded this album, 'Mental Torments', using the mixing talents of Tommy Hansen. Definitely not an album for the faint hearted. There are some very intense musical passages on 'Mental Torments', taking on board influences such as Spiral Architect, Dream Theater, Dreamscape, and a host of others. I've heard some people claiming they are a Dream Theater clone. Bugger off!!!!! There is so much more to this band than that. To discount the influence of Dream Theater would be foolish, but in no way are SUE clones. The interplay between guitar and keyboards is a major part of SUE's sound, doing so without losing sight of the song. You will be taken off on a tangent but are always returned to the core of the song. Among the stated progressive metal influences you will also find snippets of AOR, melodic rock and progressive rock. Only snippets mind you, as SUE are undeniably Metal in their approach and sound.

The Songs
The opening track 'So Cold' is a solid start with atmospheric keyboards, a chugging riff and smooth vocals moving into a very melodic harmony chorus. The progressive element becomes clearer on 'Now Or Never'. SUE's use of keyboards to set the tone is evident again, as are the guitars. Franck's vocals though slightly accented do the job. Once we are past the first chorus the band break out of their shell and move through Pagan's Mind-like heaviness to mellower prog rock territory. Franck gets a break as SUE show us how they started out on the instrumental 'Burning Box Gala'. The Dream Theater comparisons can certainly be made here. 'Saturated Brain' brings Spiral Architect into play, while the slow burning 'Moonlight' could be from the fabulous German outfit Dreamscape. So far the tracks have been of a reasonable size until we get to the Shadow Gallery style epic title track. Franck plays a minimal role in this as the instruments once again take over and bombard you with progressive metal shrapnel. Another instrumental is the USA bonus track 'Sidereal Revolution', sounding more eclectic and off-the-cuff than the mainstays of the album. For most of 'Echoes Of The Stars' we hardly hear a guitar as a piano and Franck's soulful voice are the focus. The track fades out after about 8 and 3/4 minutes, leaving a gap of another minute before the music begins again. A plain old riff-o-rama ends the album.

In Summary
Tommy Hansen or not, the drums suffer in the mix, losing some of their power. Aside from that the production is good. I won't go into great detail about the overall quality of musicianship on offer. Trust me, it is brilliant, but Franck Garcia should be mentioned for the fine job he has done on the material he has to work with. When Franck is doing his thing it sounds great, but there are so many instrumental parts to this album that at times SUE do sound like an instrumental band with a guest vocalist. With a name like Spheric Universe Experience I expected another Watchtower, full of jazzy, off-the-wall metal. Fortunately not. Just a bunch of very talented guys who, once they have incorporated more vocals into their material, will no doubt be a band to be reckoned with.

Produced By: Spheric Universe Experience
Mixed By: Tommy Hansen

Track Listing:
01 So Cold
02 Now or Never
03 Burning Box Gala
04 Saturated Brain
05 Moonlight
06 Halleygretto
07 Mental Torments
08 Sidereal Revolution * (bonus track USA only)
09 Echoes of a the Star


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