SPHERIC UNIVERSE EXPERIENCE — Anima album cover Album · 2007 · Progressive Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
2.5/5 ·
Interpreters & Imitators

Let me start straight away with this. If you want to know what this sounds like, the let me quote from the promo press accompanying the CD: ".clearly inspired by bands like Dream Theater and Symphony X and proud of it".

This French band plays a dynamic and high energy Dream Theatre styled metal, very well exectued, technical and focused. Sounds good? Well, I find this to be uninspired, or rather too much inspired by their heroes - DT and Symphony X. It seems we heard it before and while this is not bad (but it is boring at times) it's just not thrilling to me to listen to this. Had they brought in some of their own personalities into it, or just some more originality into it, this would have been more interesting, more captivating. Moreover, I find the vocals to be very irritating; high pitched and more screaming than singing they do a disservice to the music, making the songs less attractive (they remind me somewhat of Nuclear Assault's vocalist John Connelly, only his voice fits the thrash metal they played). The vocals manage to flatten out the sound, that should have been otherwise changing and of high volume. If I were to disregard the similarity to DT, then songs like "The Inner Guest" and "Neptune's Revenge", "Heal My Pain" and parts of "End Of Trauma" would be marked as a highlight, being fast, technical, and complex in the interval they introduce in the middle of it (in the first) and the nice intro (in the second). However, the other songs are not that interesting, though like I said, well executed and with high energy. But they go by and I don't have that "ear catcher" effect with them. There are some more interesting pieces in the album, such as the song "The Key" in which they seem to put in more than what they did with all previous songs and it is more varied than the others as well. While it does have the DT style as well (and even a part in which they imitate the ragtime solo from "The Dance Of Eternity" from "Scenes From A Memory Part II"), it is actually the best track in the album and it does have a little more to it than just their beloved influences, and more of their own. The band joining as backing vocals is a blessed addition (as they mask the main vocals.). The spoken vocals in French were also a good choice, adding a mysterious edge to the music (I am half French, so I know what he's singing). If the album was more like this song, I would have liked it more. This is more of an "ear catcher" than all the rest of the album combined. The album is quite long, and so it sometimes seems to not end, especially when not liking a particular song or just being bored with it. The following track, Black Materia is another example of them playing something which shows more their sound as they interpret their influences, rather than simply imitating their influences. And this is why the album left me in the several first listens a bit baffled. Cause I remembered not like it through most of it and then after the last two tracks I was more sympathetic to it. And those two last tracks are "to blame". If they choose to go in that direction and develop from there, it would definitely bring them to being interpreters and not imitators. There's still work to do, as those two tracks are not that far away from the imitation side, but it's a move in the right direction.

Again, this is not a bad album; I am sure fans of DT and others of their ilk will like this album a lot (I too love several of DT's albums very much), and so I can safely recommend it to them. But then again, if you want DT sounding metal, why not stick to the original? But don't expect to find too many new ideas or a new take on this sort of music, as this is, as the band itself promotes itself, not the intention here. And this is my main problem with this; why not put in more of your own personality inside your music and stick to doing what your revered band is doing? Why not dare more and experiment or try new directions for your music to evolve, to develop and grow? I am not saying go avant-garde, but you don't need to be weird to be good or interesting. Simply develop your own sound, your special and particular type of playing and composing and those can have influences, everyone will have them by now, but the question is to what a degree. And the "influence factor" is too high for me in this one; not to mention that I find it to not be as good as their influencing bands and other flaws that I found here.

As for others who dislike DT and this sort of metal, keep away. As for myself, as my taste is quite varied and I like a wide variety of it, from the most quiet, through the noisiest to the most insane, I can say I do like this sort of metal, but this particular album is simply not interesting, a repetition of things already done and re-done and I have hard time to see where the band members own sound comes in. It has its moments, but nothing that gets my attention for too long, and the vocals are simply turning me off. I will probably not return to this album again.

For MMA rating purposes: This is a 2.5 rating for me. For DT fans, I'd say between 3 and 4 stars. For people who dislike DT and their ilk - 1-2 stars.

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