Sphere fetishists of the world rejoice! We now present to you a band that not only has “sphere” in the moniker, but also offers a song called “The Sphere.” And yes, there’s a goddamn sphere on the cover too. Are you not entertained?! Ok, now that the sphere furbies left, we can get on with the review of what is a shockingly good album. Triosphere is a progressive power metal act hailing from Norway and though AMG and myself enjoyed their 2010 effort The Road Less Travelled a good deal, this tops it in every way. Their song writing has grown by leaps and bounds since their last release and The Heart of the Matter finds them honing their sound and style to a fine edge. They’re heavy enough to avoid being lumped in with the typical Euro-power suspects, while being proggy and diverse enough to appeal to broad cross sections of the metalverse. It’s a cliché to say there’s something here for almost everyone, but in this case, it’s the cold, hard truthy truth.
Take opener “My Fortress” for instance. It starts out with a simple, tension building riff as most Gamma Ray epics do, then erupts with thick staccato riffs that are much heavier than you’d expect, before seguing into a lovely chorus that could be on an Edenbridge album. But before you think Ida Haukland is just another pretty face in the babe metal parade, she’ll blow your doors off with raspy, often quite manly pipes and a very aggressive delivery. The woman can belt, croon, coo and whatever else the music requires and she keeps things grounded and often rather edgy. The guitar work is equally powerful, and there are riffs and harmonies on “Steal Away the Light” that could easily have appeared on the last two Omnium Gatherum outings. Did I mention these tunes are also catchy as all hell? Well, they are.
And the catchy keeps going with “Breathless,” which is quickly becoming one of my favorite songs of the year. It’s a pitch perfect take on goth metal like recent Tristania and Autumn, but with enough metal gravitas to avoid the pitfalls of such once proud acts as Within Temptation. Haukland brings her A game and gives a big, emotional performance with a chorus that hits like a dump truck full of concrete and rebar. They even round it off with understated prog touches, making it seem more high brow than it is. “Departure” is almost as good, with another ear worm laden sales job by Haukland, another tasty chorus and some expressive and emotive guitar work. Also of note is the Foo Fighter ethos and alternative rock charm of “Remedy” and the somewhat overblown symphonic cheese of “The Heart Dominion,” which rises above the goo to be an impressive metal tune thanks to the raspy, aggressive vocals.
It isn’t until near the album’s end that the band hits a speed bump, with the less than gripping “Storyteller.” The rest of the material works regardless of the style the band attempts, be it a soft ballad (“Virgin Ground”) or straight out Euro-power speed (“Relentless”). Though the album runs 54 minutes, it doesn’t feel long as it zips by with grace and power, demanding immediate replays.
Much of the album’s success can be attributed to Haukland’s vocal ability. AMG described her delivery on the last album as “androgynous” and that was certainly fitting, but here she’s more firmly rooted on the feminine side of things, though she still utilizes a rougher, masculine rasp when it suits the song. She’s a real talent, as are her bandmates, and together they make their genre bending sound both effortless and convincing. Guitarists T.O. Byberg and Marius Silver Bergesen deliver all the typically zippy power metal riffery, but incorporate extra heavy riffing that wouldn’t sound out-of-place on a Fear Factory album. Their forays into prog mostly serve to color and shade the songs, which themselves remain linear and simple.
Triosphere is definitely improving with each release and this is another sleeper hit for 2014 and one I can’t stop spinning. I’m thankful for it too, as it will help keep me occupied until
Jorn Lande‘s much-anticipated Dracula concept album arrives in 2015. It’s going to be a tough wait, so here’s to the sphere!