Secret Sphere - Archetype
Scarlet Records
Symphonic Power / Speed Metal
12 songs (51:26)
Release year: 2010
Secret Sphere, Scarlet Records
Reviewed by Ben
Archive review

Symphonic Power Metal seems to get a pretty bad rap these days. Just saying the name conjures images of frilly open throated shirts, wailing vocals about dragons and warriors, and lots of catchy choruses, but no memorable riffs. Secret Sphere, who hail from the hotbed of symphonic metal, Italy, do not suffer from this fate however. They have a monster repertoire of riffs, tons of speed, and some of the best keyboards in the genre. And, I am very glad to say, there is not a dragon in sight on this album!

Archetype is the third album in a row by Secret Sphere to employ a real life orchestra and choir after Sweet Blood Theory and Heart And Anger. With this being round three with the orchestra the band utilizes it the best on this album. Things kick off with a decent enough intro that has some cool drums to it before it segues into Line On Fire. Note that this is Line ON Fire, not Line OF Fire, even though the term "Line of Fire" is in the song. Argh. Putting lyricism debates to the side, this is a fast opener with a charging main riff that is full of intensity and melody. Because of the space-like cover art, (yes I do still pay attention to that), and the fact this is "Line ON" and not "Line OF Fire," the song brings to mind a huge ass space battle with lots of explosions. It'd be a sweet soundtrack. Death From Above shows how deftly and expertly the band uses their keyboards. This song begins with some great piano work before going into some layered vocals. After our epic intro, the guitars break into an absurdly fast riff that basically storms all across your face. The speed of these segments are exaggerated because of the dynamics here. Each verse has a super fast part to it that is augmented by a delicate slow passage before the chorus. Death From Above also shows how well Secret Sphere use the choirs in tandem with the orchestra because there's a couple of sections here where the choral voices combine with the speedy guitars and pounding drums to make it sound like the world is ending.

The Scars That You Can't See is about as close to a full ballad as you'll get on the main album. That is to say it still contains plenty of guitars and isn't a track to skip over. The reason this comes close to being a ballad is because piano dominates this song, but the slightly upbeat drums and and the guitars prevent this from being a sad sappy number. Vocals are extremely passionate in this song. Just have to say that this is Roberto Messina's last album with the band as their singer, but he goes out on a high note! Mr. Sin harkens back to their flirtations with cock rock that began on Scent of Human Desire and was fully realized with the stunning Welcome To The Circus from the last album. By this I mean there's tons of "bluesy" type bends throughout the song, and a really cool solo. All In A Moment is similar in style to The Scars That You Can't See in that it's a piano led song with crunchy guitars and whatnot, but this one has a smattering of lilting female vocals. Lots of electronics in this song that make me think of Labyrinth briefly. Roberto again delivers a very emotional vocal performance.

Other than those two songs, Archetype is packed full of up tempo bangers with an occasional mid tempo romper of a number. The version that comes with two bonus tracks does contain a true, slow, acoustic ballad with Vertigo as well as a cover of The Look by Roxette aka the Listen To Your Heart singer that got remixed a million times. You might not recognize the title, but when you hear it, you'll recognize it fo sho. More female vocals make an appearance here in duet form and make this a fun performance that's seriously played well.

In case it isn't glaringly obvious, this is a terrific album. After Archetype, Roberto Messina would depart the band, they would drop the orchestra, they would pick up renowned vocalist Michele Luppi, and they would make more mid tempo style music that is just dripping with emotive motifs. Within their career Secret Sphere have this bad ass trilogy of orchestral, symphonic speed metal albums that are leagues and leagues ahead of the pack and defy stereotypes. Definitely an album worth checking out even if it is ten years later.

Killing Songs :
Line ON Fire, Death From Above, Archetype, All In A Moment, Mr. Sin
Ben quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Secret Sphere that we have reviewed:
Secret Sphere - Portrait Of A Dying Heart reviewed by Ben and quoted 86 / 100
Secret Sphere - The Nature Of Time reviewed by Ben and quoted 69 / 100
Secret Sphere - Sweet Blood Theory reviewed by Ben and quoted 87 / 100
Secret Sphere - Heart and Anger reviewed by Ben and quoted 93 / 100
Secret Sphere - Scent Of Human Desire reviewed by Marty and quoted 80 / 100
To see all 8 reviews click here
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