Italy's Secret Sphere enters a new era as they replace original vocalist Roberto Messina with veteran journeyman Michele Luppi (Vision Divine, Killing Touch, et al). Of course, some would say they entered a new era in 2008 when they returned after a four year absence with the mediocre Sweet Blood Theory. But the Sphersters are back on track, releasing a new album every two years since then. The latest is Portrait of a Dying Heart.
One thing can be said at the start: the album art work, by renowned Colombian artist Felipe Machado Franco (Blind Guardian, Rage, Rhapsody Of Fire), is definitely the best it's been for Secret Sphere in years. The aforementioned Sweet Blood Theory has been on many listener's worst album covers of the 21st century.
Moving along ...
Portrait of a Dying Heart is a concept album based on a novel, She Complies with the Night, by the young Italian author Costanza Colombo, commissioned by Secret Sphere founder, composer, and guitarist, Aldo Lonobile. The themes of the novel are sketchy from advance materials, but the complete novel will come with the album.
As to the music expect typical Secret Sphere: melodic power metal with progressive touches in a rather bombastic wrapper. Luppi's vocals add to the grandeur as he can be as bold and strong as the music. Surprising at the start is the title track, a better than six minute instrumental. I'm guessing it's meant as an overture, as most bands would not attempt this, at least at this length. Nevertheless, it foreshadows what is the epic melodic power metal to come. Noteworthy tracks include that aforementioned instrumental, and also X, Union, the soaring anthem Lie to Me, and the quite moving The Rising Love.
Fundamentally, Portrait of a Dying Heart is quintessential Italian power metal, and Secret Sphere in their grandest form. Recommended.