ne of the pioneers of Power metal, Gamma Ray, led for over 2 decades by guitar mastermind Kai Hansen (also known from fellow countrymen and co-pioneers Helloween), releasing genre-defining classics such as “Heading For Tomorrow” (1990) and “Land Of The Free” (1995), are being reviewed this time.
“Secret Sphere” is an Italian prog power metal band from Alessandria formed by guitarist “Aldo Lonobile” in 1997. Influenced by prog and power metal giants like “Dream Theater”, “Helloween” and classic bands in general, and since the departure of vocalist Roberto ‘Ramon’ Messina” they have found a replacement in Michele Luppi’s (ex-Vision Divine) voice and released a new album called “Portrait Of A Dying Heart”.
I have watched their progress for a few years now and I think that this by far the best move Secret Sphere could make. “Michele Luppi” has an excellent voice and the band seems to be in the best shape ever. About the album now, the first track is the title track “Portrait Of A Dying Heart”, a six minute instrumental song that works like an intro to the next song called “X” that continues the same way as the opening track and so does “Wish & Steadiness” that features “Simone Mularoni” (DGM) on guitars as a guest and is also responsible for mix of the album and Antony Lim for the mastering.
The album has a continuous flow with the rhythm constantly changing and it sounds like it was recorded with one take. The cover artwork was created by “Felipe Machado Franco” that has worked with dozens of bands like “Iced Earth”, “Blind Guardian”, “Jorn”, “Rob Rock” and many more.
I have to say that I like Michele Luppi’s voice a lot and fits in the band more that their former singer. “Union” slows up things for the listener to take a breath and as “The Fall” kicks the speed once again you can hear some heavy riffs and some beautiful keyboard parts. I found Gabriele Ciaccia’s work very impressive on the keyboard and piano parts. The two guitarists have also written some fantastic stuff too, with Marco Pastorino on rhythm guitars and Aldo Lonobile on lead guitars playing some fantastic solos throughout the album.
“Healing” is one of my favourites of the album with a great intro and the chorus is one of the best of the album. “Lie To Me” is kind of a ballad, a beautiful song that highlights Luppi’s voice once again and is one of my favourites too. Also a video was shot for this song. “Secrets Fear” speeds things up once again with drummer “Federico Pennazzato” playing some awesome parts and bassist “Andrea Buratto” completing the rhythm section with his stunning bass parts. At times the songs reminded me of “Stratovarius”, “Sonata Arctica” and other classic bands even “Fates Warning” and “Savatage”, but isn’t that the magic of prog metal?
The album closes with slow tempo songs, “The Rising Of Love” and “Eternity” that both have wonderful guitar solos and create a sense of euphoria. Japanese edition has one bonus track called “Legend”, which is a new version of the song and can be found in their second album.
Secret Sphere have reached a higher level with the lineup change, Luppi’s voice fits like a glove with the band and I think that we will see great things from this band in the future. A recommended choice for all the prog power fans out there.
|Track List||Line Up||01. Portrait Of A Dying Heart
03. Wish & Steadiness
05. The Fall
07. Lie To Me
08. Secrets Fear
09. The Rising Of Love
|Andrea Buratto – Bass
Michele Luppi – Vocals
Gabriele Ciaccia – Keyboards, Piano
Marco Pastorino – Guitars (Rhythm)
Federico Pennazzato – Drums
Aldo Lonobile – Guitars