Review Aura of Prison in LiveJournal - LordSphere (2008)

 "Now, in the spirit of full-disclosure, I should get the nature of my bias out of the way first of all: Not only does this band feature a friend of mine, that friend happens to be my favourite bass-player of all time, pretty much. I made music with this guy on and off for about five years, and every single time we jammed together, he would surprise me in some way with his playing, often taking my breath away with the shear sense of adventure and experimentation that he brings to his instrument (fnarr). Anthony Leaton is, for my money, the best bass player in the world, bar none. Robert Trujillo? Yeah, he’s amazing. Matt Freeman? Sensational. Jah Wobble? He’s great. But like I say, I’m biased. In my book, none of them holds a candle to Ant.

Unfortunately, that brings me to my main criticism of this album: the production, and specifically, the mixing. You see, on this album, you can hardly hear the bass guitar, even after planty of mucking about with the levels. And that’s just criminal. But anyway, more on that later...

Production aside, this is a fantastic debut, and displays a level of both artistry and craft that I find very impressive. It’s a concept album- a proper one, not just an album where all the lyrics are sort of linked (although the lyrics do appear to tell a story), but an actual broader musical work where the songs function as movements within a larger piece. That’s a remarkably difficult thing to do, and they do it very well.

The songs, taken individually, don’t lose anything either- I do find myself yearning for an actual old fashioned chorus after a while, and if you aren’t into progressive rock or metal, this may be a little inaccessible for your tastes- although if you like proper heavy metal (as I of course do), there are enough chugging riffs and scorching guitar solos here to more than make up for any lack of obvious hooks.

The guitar work is excellent- equal parts Kirk Hammet and Adam Jones (with occasional shades of Adrian Smith), Cristian Parras provides us with some gloriously majestic moments of grandiose metal guitar, as well as some really beautiful passages of quietly arpeggiated chord progressions, but knows when to switch back to the thrash riffs.

The drumming is phenomenal... I was trying to think of someone to compare Luis Fontes’ style to, and I’m kind of stumped. Think of the precision and lean, spare sensibility of Raymond Herrera, but with the ferocity of Charlie Benante and you’re in the right ballpark. I was really taken aback by the quality of his playing.

But the first thing most listeners will notice will be the strong, confident, but also somehow ethereal vocals of Laura Tutusaus. Tutusaus has a really great voice, and isn’t really comparable to any other female singer making this kind of music... there’s none of the cod-operatics of bands like Nightwish here- Tutusaus obviously doesn’t feel that her gender requires her to take a different approach to her job, and simply opts to sing the songs the same way that Bruce Dickinson or Maynard Keenan would, with a strong sense of melody and a powerful delivery, but with none of the flashy-but-irritating vocal wobbles and warbles so beloved of certain other singers. And she sounds great.

And, well, you know what I think of Ant’s bass playing. Here he rocks out to great effect- he’s one of the few bass players I’ve seen who can play slap bass at high speed (which is the trick that makes Robert Trujillo’s stuff so amazing), and he gets plenty of opportunity here, although you will have to turn the bass right up to hear it, sadly. Even more upsetting for me is that during the quieter parts, you can barely make out Ant’s expertly sliding chords, something he does extremely well, and which adds a great deal of depth to Parras’ arppegiations. But if you listen closely, Ant is always there, and I was surprised (knowing his tastes as I do) to hear him shine so brightly on the more Maiden-esque tracks- any Iron Maiden fan knows that it’s all about the galloping basslines, and they don’t so much gallop here as full on stampede. There are moments that had the hair on the back of my neck standing up, and a big old grin spreading across my face.

To be fair, Ant isn’t the only one who is ill-served by the way this album has been mixed- the guitars are often a little too quiet, while the vocals are far too high up in the mix- which would be fine for pop, but when the music has been so obviously constructed around the interplay between the vocal melodies and the instrumental rhythms and harmonies, it becomes something of a barrier to the listener’s appreciation of the work, and actually detracts somewhat from the things Tutusaus is doing with harmonies and the like. This is particularly noticable on the album’s opener "Alone", the brooding menace of which is hampered by the feeling that the band are in a completely different room from their singer. Thankfully, I’ve found that most of these problems become far less of an issue if you play it really loudly. Which you probably should be doing anyway.

Reccomended tracks... "Black Sphere" is reminiscent of Tool to start with, and then about three minutes in it turns into the best thing Iron Maiden never wrote. "The First Encounter" has some of the best elements of early Testament, with more than a smidgeon of Yes and Rush style prog (Dream Theatre fans take note); while Tutusaus’ vocals really shine on the gloriously named ballad-cum-dirge  "Eyes Of Death", displaying a breadth of range that shows that even though she doesn’t feel the need to punctuate every other song with piercing high notes, she could if she wanted to (and reminds me a little of Kate Bush when she does); and the album’s finale, "The Truth" is a wonderfully Sabbath-esque number.

The whole thing is shot through with elements of early Metallica and recent Tool, and there is also a gothic sensibility on display here... if I had to sum this band up in a "so-and-so meets such-and-such" kind of way, I’d say that they’re like Paradise Lost but with the doom swapped for thrash.

Paradise Lost meets Megadeth, perhaps? Yeah, that’s not too far off."

(David Wynne)

LordSphere en Metal Hammer (Sept 2007)

"LordSphere: Proyecto Goth Progresivo!
Compuesto por cuatro músicos, nos encontramos con una unión de estilos peculiar y poco habitual.
LordSphere posee la fuerza de un metal pesado con reminiscencias de Dream Theater o Symphony X, sumado a la fragilidad de unas melodías a veces insospechadas. Todo ello envuelto en una historia conceptual fictícia representada por un personaje perdido en la nada, un personaje que nos habla de la destrucción por la supervivencia, del miedo y de la angustia, de luz y de locura, de esperanza, siempre en la búsqueda por algo mejor.
La idea surge en 2005 cuando el guitarrista Cristian Parras termina un detallado trabajo de composición y emprende la búsqueda de una voz que le de calíz a sus partituras. La vocalista Lau, de voz dulce y versátil, se une a este sueño. Al fin nace LordSphere. Un año después se incorporan de forma atractiva el bajista y el baterista, Ricard y L. Fontes, ambos aportando conocimientos y experiencia y dando la forma definitiva a la formación.
El primer trabajo de LordSphere lo componen ocho canciones, tres de ellas recogidas en un EP promocional grabado y producido en XQ Studios, que llevará su mismo nombre y que ha sido distribuido nacional e internacionalmente con la intención de llegar al oyente más lejano. Su tema Alone fue incluído en el CD recopilatorio Sinister Music Vol.18 de Nueva York, que se distribuyó en la misma ciudad en el JAGERMEISTER TOUR, durante las actuaciones de Lacuna Coil, Stonesour y Shadows Fall."

Review in Behind the veil  (2007)

Lordsphere EP 
(Self Financed)

Before a few months Lordsphere finished the recordings of their newest EP. This time the band has included four tracks and more than twenty minutes of a unique combination of progressive and gothic metal. Lordsphere formed before two years and so far they have a demo release, which saw the light of day last year. In these four tracks the band tries to present their music direction to the listener and I can say that they have done a really good job. Most of their songs are well structured, they have very interesting ideas inside their well worked compositions and the combination of progressive and gothic metal gives to Lordsphere something that we aren’t so used to hearing. Definitely they need to continue their hard work and to make one step at a time and in the end they will have all they want. I don’t know if the fans of progressive music will adore the stuff of Lordshpere or the fans of gothic, but personally I found very interesting the combination that they have created. I will wait for their next work in the future to hear how they will evolve their music.

(Antonis Maglaras)