Secret Sphere - Scent Of Human Desire

Year of Release: 2003
Label: Nuclear Blast
Catalog Number: NB 1128-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 53:23:00

Secret SphereThe back side of this promo version of Secret Sphere's Scent Of Human Desire features a picture (see left) of the band. To look at them, you'd expect them to sound like Poison, especially as one of them has that rock 'n roll cowboy look (Andrea Buratto, bass), and another that Hollywood-cool look (Luca Cartasegna). But playing the disk reveals Secret Sphere to be, overall, a heavy, chunky metal band, who mix in a few highly melodic mid-tempo prog metal tracks. There are few moments that live up the initial impression, however, namely "Virgin Street 69" and, at least initially, "Life Part 2 - Daylight." Fortunately this quickly proves to be a rather nice progressive metal piece, with some nice tinkly keyboards, a chorus of voices in the chorus (naturally), and some "Tower Of Power" like brass (rather cool, too). Towards the end this becomes a rave-up rocker that will have you thinking a bit of Sweet ("Ballroom Blitz") and of Golden Earring's classic "Radar Love" but this in just snippets.

If I had to name influences, I'd begin with Fates Warning and include a bit of Queenryche. Though on the mellow ballad "More Than Simple Emotions," vocalist Ramon Messina actually sounds like Steve Hogarth rather than Ray Alder or Geoff Tate. Cartasegna is quite a dramatic drummer, and for the most part, this sextet have their chops. That band is comprised of, in addition to Messina, Cartasegna and Buratto, Aldo Lonobile on lead guitars and both Paolo "Paco" Gianotti and Gianmaria Saggi on guitars, with Antonio Agate on keyboard. (what was that I was saying about Pagan's Mind being rare with 3 guitarists?).

While there are a few less than stellar moments on the album, the above mentioned "Virgin Street 69" being one of them, the at times clumsy "Runaway Train" being another, the latter launched, appropriately enough, by percussion that mimics the chugging of a train (enhanced by some train like effects). This is a track that moves through numerous styles all in the space of a minute and half. Not that Secret Sphere are trying write something that pays homage to their influences, but that weren't quite sure where they wanted to go with the piece. It settles down a bit for the second chorus. With a truly tinkly keyboard, the whimsically annoying bonus piece that comes a few minutes after "Life Part 2" ends could have been left off, the maniacal laughter especially. It even disturbed my fairly tolerant cat. Eh, good thing CD players are a) programmable and b) stoppable.

But hey, before we get to that embarrassing moment, we get some pretty good material, spearheaded by the highlight of the album, "Desire." There is a bit of a swagger about it, with a gun-slinger like guitar solo to start things off, scaling back to a chiming musical accent while vocalist Messina sings in a delicate, fragile and faltering way. But this will be the "single" release from the album with one of those catchy, draw 'em in choruses. That is it say this'll likely be the song culled to represent this band on any Nuclear Blast compilations. Like nearly everything else on the album, the track chugs, though a bit of riffery halfway through does seem a little... cluttered.

The album gets off to a good start with "Rain," promising something really great. It's a track we might hear from Symphony X or Vanden Plas, though Messina is a little screechier as a vocalist. Here, as elsewhere, there are some nice piano-like keyboard elements. In fact, I'd have to say on this particular piece, the band sound like a boomier Enchant. "Still Here" rocks hard and heavy, bringing to mind classic metal - especially the screaming guitar bursts. Cool, high energy stuff that carries right on through to "1000 Eyes Show," this latter a piece whereby the male protagonist thinks he can rescue his object of desire from the clutches of working as hooker or in a peepshow. In that, most of the songs are about relationships? well, what is the title of the album afterall? Well, "Still Here" is sort of the "fuck you, doubters/" kind of song - sort of their version of Fish's "The Company" if you will - only in subject matter, mind you. Don't let my Hogarth comment lead you astray.

"Scent Of A Woman" is something different again, making me think a bit of The Church, in that it is a dark and gloomy arranged piece, with a romantic feel. Orchestration provides a nice accent to this slow-build track. Lots of keyboards on here, where Messina is joined by Vera Quarleri on backing vocals (which she also does on "Desire" and "Surroundings"; Nadia Lanfranconi appears on "More Than Simple Emotions"). This leads into the even darker and gloomier "Life Part 1 - Walking Through The Dawn." This begins with some very nice acoustic guitar and atmospheric keys, a bit of grand piano, and a hint of female vocals, and hint of male vocals. It's an atypical, yet sublime, moment that lasts a little over a minute.

All in all, Scent Of Human Desire is a hit an miss affair, but shows promise if they stick to the progressive/power metal elements and leave the other stuff on the studio floor. Looking at their earlier stuff, based on lyrics alone, this is a new direction for the band. They give us a different look on each track, which does seem like a band not sure who they want to be.

Rain (5:26) / Still Here (3:01) / 1000 Eyes' Show (5:45) / More Than Simple Emotions (4:01) / Surrounding (5:53) / Desire (5:16) / Virgin Street 69 (4:15) / Runaway Train (4:24) / Scent Of A Woman (4:44) / Life Part I - Walking Through The Dawn (1:53) / Life Part II - Daylight/untitled "bonus" (8:41)

Andrea Buratto - bass
Paolo "Paco" Gianotti - guitars
Luca Cartasegna - drums
Ramon - vocals
Antonio Agate - keyboards
Aldo Lonobile - lead guitars

Mistress Of The Shadowlight (1999)
A Time Nevercome (2001)
Scent Of Human Desire (2003)
Heart & Anger (2004)
Sweet Blood Theory (2008)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin DE

Added: September 8th 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 705
Language: english


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