|Review: Secret Sphere - Portrait of a Dying Heart|
|Portrait of a Dying Heart|
Label: Scarlet Records
Year released: 2012
Genre: Progressive Power Metal
Review online: December 8, 2012
Reviewed by: Bruce Dragonchaser
for:Portrait of a Dying Heart
Like anyone interested in this style of music, I was salivating at the prospect of hearing Michele Luppi perform on the new album by Secret Sphere. Luppi has one of the most distinctive and acrobatic vocal styles in the genre, and after a string of similar-sounding (but decent) projects following his ejection from Vision Divine, it's satisfying to see him behind the wheel of a band with some sense of stability. Secret Sphere have been releasing quality Power Metal albums for a number of years, occasionally wandering into the Prog-Power bracket, but they have never completely abandoned their Labyrinth-meets-Highlord sound. Until now, that is.
From the opening six-minute instrumental (which operates in a Scenes From A Memory sort of way), Portrait Of A Dying Heart, abysmal title aside, is a gratifying, sometimes emotional stroll through Progressive Power Metal territory, leaning more on the Prog side for the most part. Though there are plenty of straight ahead, pedal to the metal moments ("X", a euphoric burst of Luppi brilliance, and the sublime "Secrets Fear"), the album is at its best when being sensitive and ponderous. Tracks like "Healing", with its highly memorable chorus, and tender ballad "Eternity", which closes out the album, prove just how much feeling this lot can squeeze out of these songs. Luppi provides most of that feeling with his vocals, which are as ornate and superfluous as ever before. The downside for me is this doesn't really sound like Secret Sphere, but more like Vision Divine circa The 25th Hour. Also, the band feel the need to throw in heavy, harmonic-pinching riffs every once and a while (see the awful lead track "The Fall"), which leaves you wondering where their loyalty lies.
If you've never heard Secret Sphere before, feel free to start your journey here. Portrait Of A Dying Heart sounds almost like a new band, one that sounds an awful lot like Vision Divine, which of course, is no bad thing.
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