Secret Sphere - Scent Of Human Desire
Nuclear Blast
Melodic Progressive Power Metal
11 songs (53'14)
Release year: 2003
Secret Sphere, Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Marty
Secret Sphere became a band in 1997. Inspired by hard rock, power metal and classical music, this Italian band set out to create a sound of their own in what is now an extremely over-populated genre of metal music. They released their first demo in 1998 entitled Between Story And Legend. Their first full-length album came in the form of Mistress Of The Shadowlight, released in 1999 on Elevate Records. The band also recorded a version of How Many Tears for the Helloween tribute album, Keepers Of Jericho. In 2000, the band released their second album, A Time Never Come receiving great reviews from the music press. This album, Scent Of Human Desire, is their third album and the first for the band's new label, Nuclear Blast Records. This new album sees the band continuing with their progressive power metal style but with less symphonic elements than before and more heavy guitar riffing, giving the band a more aggressive tone. A maturity and style is starting to be present with the band's music as well that is great to see as this band was one of those that could've very easily fallen through the cracks so to speak because of the flood of bands nowadays playing this sort of metal.

The first thing that struck me about this release was the more aggressive and tougher tone found on a few tracks that is something new for the band. Some of the riffing even has a thrash metal flavor to it. I think the band saw what a tougher new sound did for Symphony X for their Odyssey album and decided to go that route with their sound as well. There's lots of pounding heavy beats mixed with more mellower reflective ones and the vocals range from passionate and expressive to angry and tough sounding. Their vocalist has a great strong voice and although still heavily accented in a few spots, delivers the kind of vocal performance that many other bands would kill for. Great vocalists seem to be a rarity with newer bands these days but Secret Sphere has no worries in that regard. Lots of very expressive and emotional leads can be found throughout this album as well adding to the drama that each track creates. The use of more heavier and aggressive riff styles with sprinklings of keyboards and piano really bring the band's sound into the realms of Angel Dust as heard on their Bleed and Enlighten The Darkness albums. This is especially evident with the tracks, Still Here and Runaway Train. Conversely, the richness of the band's sound, created by the great melodic vocals, soaring choruses and dramatic guitar gives the band the feel and professional quality of a band like Kamelot. This certainly is an album of contrasts!! The band even manages to deliver a more speedier power metal feast on the song 1000 Eyes Show, mixing in some very abstract rhythmic changes, very reminiscent of Dream Theater. On that same topic, the Dream Theater influence creeps up in several other songs, utilizing very abrupt rhythmic starts and stops and some very abstract guitar and keyboard styles. More Than Simple Emotions is one of the more laid back tracks on the album, but with very effective use of guitar, piano, a mix of both male and female voices and a great uplifting chorus, it creates an air of drama that really grabs the listener. Female vocals are again heard on the track Scent Of A Woman, another quieter orchestrated song that is a decent power ballad with heavier passages mid-song. The true highlight (for me) of the album has to be the track, Surrounding. Combining heavy power/thrash metal style riffs, a great emotional vocal delivery and choruses that bring classic Styx to mind, this band creates a mini opus that uses recurring riff driven themes, and choruses of voices that create very inspirational and uplifting vocal lines. This track also mixes heavy and quieter passages very effectively and the result is a smooth transition from one aspect of the song to the next.

The rest of the album pretty much follows the pattern of heavy guitar mixed with rich vocals and keyboard sounds. There really aren't any bad tracks, however, I'm not really stuck on part 2 of the finale, Life - Parts 1 and 2. Part 1 uses some acoustic guitar with orchestration and uses both male and female voices again to create a hauntingly beautiful (but very short) intro to the two-part song. Part 2 erupts into a speedy double bass power metal style and begins as a heavy driving track. What surprised me was the sudden changes incorporating keyboards and horns blast mid song that give a big band jazzy style to the song. Nothing wrong with that, but it's a little out of context with the rest of the song and the whole album for that matter. The track then descends into more of an R & B style with the guitar riffs towards the end of the track. About 2 minutes of silence is then shattered by some ridiculous laughing over a guitar and keyboard track. A strange song and not the best way to end an otherwise very solid album.

There's still some flaws with this band as far as songwriting in the form of a few disjointed arrangements, but I see the band as still exploring new horizons in forging their own identity. Even the more average songs on this album contain some great and interesting twists and changes and nothing is very predictable. This band has everything in place now with it's sound and I think they could be on the verge of something great. I think Nuclear Blast really landed a solid band in signing these guys and with the progression that I see from album to album, it's only a matter of time before this band puts out a real killer. A very good album from a band to watch out for in the future.

Killing Songs :
Still Here, More Than Simple Emotions, Runaway Train and Surrounding
Marty quoted 80 / 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 - 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
To see all 8 reviews click here
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