Secret Sphere - The Nature Of Time
Frontiers Records
Prog / Power Metal
11 songs (55:52)
Release year: 2017
Secret Sphere, Frontiers Records
Reviewed by Ben

The Nature Of Time is the second full length studio album with new-ish vocalist, Michele Luppi. Upon his arrival the band actually had quite a flurry of releases during a period of increased activity. First was the brand new album Portrait Of A Dying Heart (which will be reviewed soon), followed by a re-recording of the classic 2001 album A Time Never Come (lots of "times" being thrown about), and a double live album filmed in Japan. That's all basically to say that there's been lots of ground covered with Michele behind the mic, so him replacing Robert Messina isn't as jarring as it seems.

This marks the first time Secret Sphere has done an album with just one guitarist. While original dude Aldo Lonobile has done most of the writing in the past, this album makes a drastic sharp turn away from classic Secret Sphere elements such as speed and really excellent keyboard work. Both of these roles have been stripped dramatically. There's also the fact that this is yet another concept album about a girl going off on a metaphysical astral journey while in a coma. The band seems to be hurting itself by forcing the lyrics to fit all these albums with similar themes. This is almost like A Time Never Come redux in terms of storyline. And Portrait Of A Dying Heart had a similar chick protagonist going through her own mental inner mind journey as well. To top it all off, the band goes all in with their storyline and title the songs in an annoying one word fashion, and then sequence the album in a really terrible way. The first twenty five minutes is a chore to get through. There's the obligatory opening track, followed by a mid tempo song The Calling. While not a bad song on its own, this does have the unfortunate happenstance of being the weakest opening track the band has had on any album. Worse, it's followed by a full on power ballad with the title of Love. Holy shit! We're just trying to tank this aren't we? Courage finally picks up the slack and almost gets things out of the rut they're in. Well guess what? We're going right back into yet another bland ass ballad right after! I never thought a Secret Sphere album would be this hard to listen to!

After getting pissed off and taking a break, coming back to this album to finish it off does yield some justly deserved rewards. For as much as the first half of The Nature Of Time sucks, the second half is a completely different beast. Faith and Reliance are two actually up tempo metal songs that are back to back and not split up and finally we get some flavor going here. After the borefest that preceded this I'm just glad to rock. Next is the super out and out proggy as hell instrumental, Commitment and this is such a breath of fresh air. There' a sense of jubilant buoyancy here, keyboards are going off all over the place with tons of solos and effects. Guitars go through several moods without drifting off into boredom-land. This is like the best instrumental sections of the first Andromeda album and Scenes From A Memory era Dream Theater. The big ol' album highlight, The Awakening is next and thank Neo this isn't another ballad. A spectacularly cinematic intro kicks things off in an inspiring orchestral manner, and then there's some sweet back and forth soloing between keyboards and guitars. Speaking of going full prog, listen to the guitars during the pre-chorus for those cleverly played licks going off. The extended length here is used for a cool instrumental section with lots of solos and no unnecessarily placed snooze passages. Unfortunately, the album ends on yet another ballad with the final song The New Beginning.

Man, I actually really like Secret Sphere, ALOT, but this is not their best effort. I'm just guessing here but Aldo is also doing lots of work with other bands, doing production work, stuff like that and Michele Luppi is actually in Whitesnake now as their keyboardist. So, two big parts of the band, one being the main songwriter, are off doing other things and maybe they're getting stretched a bit thin. If the band were to say get another guitarist who motivates them to play fast again, and then get the guys together to concentrate on a new batch of songs just for Secret Sphere, they could easily follow up with something in the same league as their prior works. Even something as recent as Portrait Of A Dying Heart. Now I feel obligated to review that one since it's so much better.

Killing Songs :
Commitment, The Awakening, Faith
Ben quoted 69 / 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 - Archetype reviewed by Ben and quoted 90 / 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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