Released: 2005, Nightmare Records
The pretentiously, yet fittingly named Spheric Universe Experience began life in 1999 as a purely instrumental progressive band. At the time, they went by the name Gates of Delirium (also pretentious) and released one full-length, “A”, before going through some lineup changes and switching names to Amnesya. That particular lineup saw limited success before splitting, and the current band was born in 2003 with the addition of vocalist Frank Garcia and drummer Nico Muller.
Having never heard either of the previous incarnations of the band, I can’t say how the music on MENTAL TORMENTS compares, but it’s obvious with one quick listen to leadoff song “So Cold” that these guys know what they’re doing. Taking an infectious vocal melody and building layers of guitars, keyboards, and time changes around it, then covering the whole thing in a shiny production sheen, Spheric Universe Experience (SUE) crafts an instant prog-metal landmark. If that sounds like a recipe for a Dream Theater album to you, go ahead and give yourself a cookie, ‘cause that’s the first thing that sprung to my mind as well. Also, given the amount of DT-worship going on here, I would guess SUE has no problem with the comparison.
Everything a modern day prog-metal release needs is here, summed up in the last paragraph’s description of “So Cold”. The band isn’t afraid to show off either, squeezing three instrumentals onto the disc, two of which are 6+ minutes. Of those, “Burning Box Gala” is the best, slowly building to a frothy frenzy around the 2:45 mark and then going through an extended musical acrobat show to finish. Other highlights include the chugging “Now or Never” piano-underscoring of “Moonlight”.
There is no doubt that prog-metal fans should have no problem getting into the deep musicality of MENTAL TORMENTS, as it is easily one of the better prog-metal discs to come last year. Hopefully next time SUE can step up with the originality and put the comparisons to Dream Theater to rest.