Released: 2012, Scarlett Records
Certainly there is no shortage of Italian power metal bands, and Secret Sphere is set to release their 7th LP in 2012’s PORTRAIT OF A DYING HEART. The band was part of the initial Italian power metal movement, emerging at about the same time as Rhapsody and Labyrinth but not able to garner the same level of interest as those two stalwarts. The new album seeks to redress that, PORTRAIT OF A DYING HEART being a concept album inspired by the epic concept albums of Queensryche and Savatage. The album is based on a novel called ‘She Complies With The Night', which was specifically commissioned by Secret Sphere's guitarist and main composer Aldo Lonobile to the young Italian authoress Costanza Colombo.
The label and band describe themselves as symphonic power metal, and while there are certainly symphonic elements, the comparisons to Rhapsody Of Fire are no longer as apt, Secret Sphere really going in a more Labyrinth-like direction. Simply put everything is here. Great riffs, amazing vocals, powerful production, attractive and sticky melodies boosted with lots of technical guitar playing. From the instrumental opening of the title track, to the climatic signature track, “Eternity”, this is state-of-the progressive power metal. Parallel track comparisons with other concept albums emerge quickly, as in the track two “X”, obviously inspired by “Anarchy X” as track two on OPERATION: MINDCRIME. This is also the most Labyrinth sounding track, a nice blend of speedy riffs, emotive vocals and integral keyboards.
New singer Michele Luppi is really a fantastic weapon for the band, and while the music occasionally ventures towards the epic and technical, each song is digestible and memorable, making this an extremely accessible album. For fans of power metal, particularly the brand the Italians are renown for, PORTRAIT OF A DYING HEART is a welcome and enjoyable release that should appeal to fans of Labyrinth, Rhapsody of Fire, Kamelot, and Vision Divine.