Secret Sphere - Lifeblood
Frontiers Records
Melodic Power / Prog Metal
11 songs (51:34)
Release year: 2021
Secret Sphere, Frontiers Records
Reviewed by Ben

In the words of famed stand up comedian, Barry Steinfeld,"What is the deal with Italy lately?" Recent releases by Vision Divine, Labyrinth, and now Secret Sphere have all been much better than they have any right to be! Usually this country is known for all its Rhapsody clones, yet all the aforementioned bands have maintained a sense of heaviness, dramatism, melody, and speed that has nothing to do with forests of elves or unicorn tears.

Lifeblood is a big deal for Secret Sphere fans because of the return of long time vocalist Roberto Messina. This kind of feels weird to say since his replacement was none other than vocal extraordinaire, Michele Luppi, but Roberto has been on every album except for two. While I can admit that back in the day his voice could take on some shrill tendencies, that has been gone since the 2012 recording of their song Legend. As such, Roberto comes back into the fold stronger than ever. Musically, the Secret Sphere have definitely made a conscious decision to re-route their course following the disappointing The Nature Of Time. For one, a ballad is NOT tacked on as the second song! In fact, there's only one ballad and it's the next to last track! Second, the speedy side of the band has been brought back in a big way. However! The band did not completely abandon their Prog Metal leanings that they tried to hit on The Nature Of Time. Quirky, odd time patterns, and spiralling guitar and keyboard leads show up here and there. Being much more restrained than they were previously, these proggy leanings are a nice addition.

Making an obvious effort to go back to playing fast worked out better for Secret Sphere on Lifeblood than it has for many, MANY other bands who lose their sense of accelerated metal playing. They do not sound like a bunch of tired old men who are begrudgingly playing fast again. Nor do they go and repeat their own songs and formulas. To me, the only slightly derivative sections are the twin leads in the title tracks intro that bring to mind some of Helloween's more uplifting moments, and the intro lick to Alive brings to mind Let The Demons Free from Thunderstone. Other than those two sections, not even whole songs, but rather just sections, I can't find familiar melodies or recycled riffs.

The first half of Lifeblood contains a majority of fast, speedy numbers. The second half is where another aspect of the band comes into play. Way back on their third album, Scent Of Human Desire, Secret Sphere experimented quite a bit with, um, well, "cock rock" tendencies. Cowbells and Motley Crue type solos abound on that record. Well, the band brings alot of those sounds back, but in a non intrusive way. For example, Against All The Odds has deliciously melodic guitar licks that bring to mind Def Leppard, a rousing "woah oh ohh" sing along, and then to top it off, out of left field comes a little proggy jam. Thank You is a harsher, more aggressive song that has a huge chorus with lots of gang vocals. There is a closing epic, The Lie We Love, and it's rather successful for an eight minute long song. This uses piano quite a bit and stays fairly linear in its structure. At the conclusion there are some "church like" vocals, but I don't mean choirs. More like evangelical revivalist sounding singing. It sounds weird but it works. The rest of the tracks on Lifeblood are for the most part fast and enjoyable. I know that sounds like a cop out, but it's the truth.

I honestly can't see how anyone who is a fan of Secret Sphere's previous Roberto era can be disappointed. Lifeblood is up there with Archetype and Sweet Blood Theory which themselves are closely behind A Time Never Come and Heart And Anger. That is to say, Lifeblood is rather essential for fans of the band. I'd like to say that they could bring a ton of new fans on board, but they (the listeners) would have to be inclined to like 2000's era Power Metal that still retains aggression and heaviness to go with the melodies and catchy choruses. Compared to themselves, Lifeblood is probably their third or fourth best album. Compared to most of what I've been hearing coming out of the land of Power Metal lately, this is miles above that dreck.

Killing Songs :
Lifeblood, Against All The Odds, Thank You, The Violent Ones, The Lie We Love
Ben quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Secret Sphere that we have reviewed:
Secret Sphere - Liveblood (The Studio Session) reviewed by Ben and quoted no quote
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
To see all 10 reviews click here
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