Spheric Universe Experience
The New Eve
Style: Progressive Metal
Release date: 11 September, 2012
Playing time: 50:25

France is a gifted country. It has almost everything, the beautiful landscapes, and refined monuments like the Eiffel Tower, cultural sophistication and infectious romance. But they also have good old classic prog metal like Spheric Universe Experience also shortened to SUE. I have actually never travelled the so called enviable beautifully landscapes of France, so none of the first four things have ever been experienced on my own. But SUE on the other hand has been around since 1999, and been followed trustworthy by my eyes and ears from their first baby step into this world.

My expectations to the quintet of SUE have always been sky high for each new release that was unleashed upon our metalheads. Though somehow they always managed to carve a big sad smile on my face, but still I continue to expect great deeds from their musical hands. All musicians onboard are well-known for their high technical skills, which have raised some eye browns on the faces of many prog fans around the globe. This five piece act has been following closely the footsteps of their grand old prog maestros by the name of Dream Theater, but will “The New Eve” transform into “The New Era of SUE”? And will SUE step out of their legendary grandfathers’ shadow, and move out of their own comfort zone? I’m crossing my fingers and so should you…

Here they are with the fourth release in line and with same line-up represented on their previous release entitled “Unreal”. Until then the quintet had undergone a number of changes in both name and line-up. So again the drumming duty is handled by Christophe Briand, and the remaining four pieces of this French prog machinery are also still fully intact and working. Founding members John Drain is singing with his bass and Vince Benaim still sharpening his nails on his guitar. The magician on the keys is Fred Colombo, and the last spot on vocals are since 1999 occupied by Frank Garcia with his very recognizable voice.
Three years did it take the quintet to finish up and polish, what they claim to be breaking musical boundaries, bringing freshness again to the ever expanding genre? And such a statement shouldn’t be taken lightly, so are they really up to it?

“The New Eve” is the title of their fourth offering and it follows up on the album “Unreal” from 2009, which failed grabbing the attention from me and many other metal freaks. Nine songs made it to the final track list on “The New Eve”, spanning 50 minutes of prog metal with its own twist and turns by the inclusion of electronica and pop elements.

‘Shut up’ is the opening track, introducing us to the melodic universe of SUE and the new path taken by them. Gone are almost every technically long drawn instrumental passages and the complex song structures, but as a replacement they now deliver a new straightforward song approach with main focus on the grooves and catchy melodies within each song. Calling this band prog metal in its current state is in my opinion overrated. Some of the tunes are too poppish, with the heavily use of electronica like dubstep and other fanzy electronic elements. Some bands, like the debut prog metal act ‘SYQWM’, have successfully succeeded by incorporating such elements, but that is not the case here. I’m pretty sure many newcomers and old fans of SUE will dislike, what SUE has tried to accomplish with their fourth release. The metallic riffs and odd rhythms are still onboard though, maybe not as often, complex and dynamic as the pre “Unreal” era of SUE, but it’s a welcome change to the groovy rock experience. The vocal performance is not to be forgotten either. Frontman Garcia is what you could call a mixed bag. His pipes are lacking some control and the ability to hit some clean high notes, but in the mid-section though, his strongest weapon is found. It complements the heavier sections perfectly with his trademark signature, the French accent. Without his voice SUE would not be the same, and it’s as important for SUE, as eating and sleeping is for every human being. The overall production is sharp, defining and giving each instrument space enough to unfold it’s fully potential, but the drum work is to flat for my taste and is like mite in my ears at times. It feels like bad memories has come back to haunt me, the ones acquired from my first listening experience to “St. Anger”, delivered by the thrash icons Metallica. The sound of the empty cans rattling through Lars Ulrich’s drum work was catastrophic and almost killed that album. SUE on the other hand succeeded where the icons failed. Their drums are drowning in the sea of groovy heavy riffs and electronic tones, but for the sake of good.

Bottom line, SUE is a brilliant band in many ways, but even if they managed to build up something new with the straightforward accessible sound, heavy and catchy melodies, moving them into new undiscovered territories; it still didn’t touch my metal soul. The interesting guitar solos and intricate rhythmic changes that defined their riff-laden progressive metal identity are almost swept away. So if you like me worshipped their debut release “Mental Torments” and the sophomore album “Anima”, then please keep your hands safely in your pocket and stay away from this. But those of you who met SUE’s third release entitled ‘Unreal’ with open arms, and thought it deserved a standing ovation, don’t think twice and get your hands on this album.

01. Shut Up
02. The New Eve
03. Escape
04. Never Heal
05. Angel
06. The Day I Died
07. In This Place
08. Self Abuse
09. My Heart on The Cross
Label: Nightmare Records
Distribution: Twilight
Artwork rating: 89/100
Reviewed by: Tommy Skøtt
Date: 2 October, 2012
Website: www.sphericuniversexp.com