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Spiral Architect

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

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Spiral Architect A Sceptic's Universe album cover
3.70 | 148 ratings | 34 reviews | 47% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2000

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Spinning (3:23)
2. Excessit (6:13)
3. Moving Spirit (3:44)
4. Occam's Razor (1:32)
5. Insect (5:54)
6. Cloud Constructor (5:25)
7. Conjuring Collapse (6:30)
8. Adaptability (4:34)
9. Fountainhead (6:30)

Total Time 43:45

Bonus track on Avalon/Marquee release (1999 Japan/Asia):
10. Prelude to Ruin (7:32)

Line-up / Musicians

- Oyvind Haegeland / vocals
- Steinar Gunderson / guitar
- Kaj Gornitzka / guitar
- Lars K. Norberg / bass
- Asgeir Mickelson / drums

Releases information

CD Avalon/Marquee (1999 Japan/Asia)
CD Sensory/Laser's Edge (2000 Europe/USA)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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SPIRAL ARCHITECT A Sceptic's Universe ratings distribution

(148 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(47%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(26%)
Good, but non-essential (14%)
Collectors/fans only (9%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

SPIRAL ARCHITECT A Sceptic's Universe reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by OpethGuitarist
2 stars A leader in the field of technical progressive metal established itself on this album. But what exactly is the purpose of all of this? I think, these guys can play, no doubt about that, but what is the purpose to do what they do, other than to be labeled perhaps the most technical band in the world?

I think of this band, and this album, like I think of many of the "top guitar players" today. Like your Michael Angelo's and George Bellas's. Yea, sure, they've got a lot of talent, and I give them major kudos for the work they've spent mastering their instrument.

Unfortunately for many of these players, they haven't mastered music, which is what I am trying to judge.

Review by The T
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars (Between 1 and 5 stars really)

Yes, I don't have any idea what rating to give to this album by ultra-technical prog- metal band Spiral Architect. I don't have a clue because there's two completely different point of views from which you can judge this record, both of them valid, yet completely opposite and that's what I will try to decide in this review: is it a 0, is it a 5??

Pro-5 arguments:

- In this album you'll probably hear to some of THE FINEST technical playing in the prog- metal realm... every musician here plays at the highest level of profficiency with his instrument: the drummer is an octopuss, the guitar players have like 7 fingers in each hand, the bass player has fingers made off rubber....amazing...

- how do we know the players are so good? Because they SHOW IT. If there ever was a showing-off album, this is it. Every song has like 30000 notes (more than a hundred per square measure), the guitar lines are absolutely high-flying, 20 scales-per-second wonder...the bass lines are so fast you will rarely catch them... the drums: impossible, so many rhythm changes, so many different patterns, great hi-hat use ala fates Warning, only more difficult, thrilling fills....

- not only there's speed: there are so many riff changes, so many odd time signature sections, so complex structures in the songs....

-also, we have quite a few (really A FEW) moments of melody here... the middle, acoustic section in Insect being one...., this leads me to the other side of the river....

Pro-0 arguments:

- let's start with what I was saying: there are a few moments of melody... A FEW... TOO FEW.... let's tell the truth: there's almost NO melody in this album... not one I can remember at's pure madness...

- pure madness...yes... I said this is a showing-of record...but showing-off for the sake of showing-off? At times it seems so: there;s so many notes per second, so many rhythm changes that it's hard, if not impossible, to keep track of the songs....songs... then,

- ...SONGS. Where are the songs? Where? With no coherent structures, no choruses, no discernible solos (everything sounds like a giant, whole-band solo) I just can't tell one track from the other... Again, maybe Insect is the highlight, if only for the acoustic part...

- The singer is not up to par with the rest of the crew: if all others can play so technically complex music, the singer should be able to sing like a master of the vocals...but not, he's only a slightly better Fates-Warning-style of singer...that means a screaming, every-verse-the-same kind of singer....awful. This one is better than FW's Alder, but just a bit...

- It's technical...but: is playing 3000 notes per second really the mark of a good musician? I would say a rotund, gigantic NO: playing the most notes per second does not make you a great musician, playing the RIGHT notes is actually better.... and CHOOSING the right notes to play is better still.....

-In the end, there's not much MUSIC.

Now don't get me wrong: this is better than bands like Cynic (the founder of this style).... it's better than bands like Zero Hour because if that band tried to impress you but didn't do it, at least this norwish guys really DO impress. But it's the musical side that is lacking....

This band, with a more centered focus in MUSIC, with the help of some tranquilizers if needed, could be really great. They have it in their if they only had it in their minds....

Final verdict:

I CANNOT give this band just 1 star: it's impossible, it would be so unfair to such talented musicians....

I CANNOT give such a melody-killing-monstruosity a 5. Man, we're not here for the noise!

So, at the end, I still don't have an idea. What rating definition suits the best?

Essential, a masterpiece? NOT. It's not essential, much less a masterpiece Poor? NOT. Try find anyone that says this kind of playing is poor...they're crazy. Excellent addition to your collection? NOT. I mean, there are better things to buy first. Good, not essential? NOT. I mean, It's just difficult to call melody-less music Good. Collectors/fans only? Now this is the one! If you want every piece of prog-rock around, every prog-metal album you can find....if you collect rare music, you can't not have this one.

But let's add half an star for...I still don't know.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars A Scepticīs Universe as a classic tech/prog metal album and in my eyes a masterpiece. If you like bands like Atheist, Cynic, Watchtower and Spastic Ink you will probably like this too.

Spiral Architect donīt have death metal vocals like Atheist and Cynic though, so there is a big difference there. The vocal melodies are indeed very beautiful on this album and rather special too. It seems to me that it should be impossible to put vocals to music this technical, but Oyvind Haegeland does a really fine job doing just that. The vocal melodies and his voice sometimes reminds me of early Fates Warning ( first singer) and Buddy Lackey from Psychotic Waltz.

The music is as i mentioned very technical and there a literally hundreds of small riffs in every song. Isnīt this confusing ? You might ask. And yes to start with it is very confusing and not very accessible, but after a lot of spins this album reveals itīs secrets. The riffs become memorable and especially the beautiful vocal lines binds the songs together. I find this much more accessible that for instance Watchtower or Spastic Ink even though they are in the same catagory of insanely technical metal.

My favorite songs are: Excessit, Insect and Fountainhead. If anyone tells you that they canīt differentiate between the songs itīs because they havenīt listened enough ( and many will say this).

I will rank this as a masterpiece of progressive music as Iīm having a hard time seeing how anyone can top this in this sub-genre. This one belongs in the hall of Fame with: Atheist - Unquestionable Presence, Cynic - Focus, Watchtower - Control and Resistance.


Review by Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Monstrous, absolutely terrific album from one of the best Progmetal units around, and Spiral Architect have an accessibility through the Dickinsonian vocals of Oyvind Haegeland without ever forsaking their devotion to the rock progressive. Unlike much PM, Lars Norberg's bass is in the higher range and unexpectedly slaps you in the face, while Steinar Gundersen and Kaj Gornitzka's guitars spew completely reliable riffage throughout, reminiscent of Opeth's counter-riffing genius. Haegeland's keyboards are also well-represented as a background color and harmonizer. Influences seem to come from everywhere; Fates Warning, Maiden, Rush, a touch of Priest, but nothing too discernable... just killer sh*t, bro-ham. The band wastes little time-- 'Spinning', very Fusion 'Excessist' with challenging time shifts and variations, and slightly pop 'Moving Spirit'. More jazz flavor for 'Insect', very prog 'Cloud Constructor' opens on a minimal line but turns apocalyptic with great synth/guitar parts, wild harmonies and legions of Christian soldiers, and the fabulous math-metal of 'Fountainhead'.

Pay no mind to the critical whining this CD often attracts. If you're in the market for Tech-metal with some sentiment and melody among the battlements, I don't foresee much disappointment. Aces.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Ok,here we have the most classic example of a love or hate band...Most of the reviewers have rated this album with 5 or 2 stars...My opinion is that the truth always lies somewhere in the middle...SPIRAL ARCHITECT play extra technical prog/jazz metal...and the first influence that comes to my mind is PSYCHOTIC WALTZ at their most technical moments...This exact thought is also supported by the vocals of Oyvind Haegeland who must be a fan of the main vocalist of PSYCHOTIC WALTZ, Buddy Lackey...Of course such bands is almost impossible not to be influenced by the legendary WATCHTOWER which was the first band to play and sound as a jazz metal band...A more technical side of early SIEGES EVEN also come to mind while listening to this disc...

...And it is reasonable that many progheads don't like that kind of music...because what is the whole point of music? In my opinion music -and especially progressive rock which is the one we have chosen- must create feelings and emotions to the demanding listener...And this is not the album to start with if you want feelings,melodies and emotions...By that sense no album of that genre could be considerd as a masterpiece and that is mostly true...On the other hand this is not a disc to simply drop in the ban...These talented musicians have created a music piece where they push their skills and creativity to the upper limits and that's something that can't be passed by...Sure,there are no melodies but after all they have composed songs that anyone can listen to,it's not simply a matter of complexity and showing skills...

I think a 3 star rating is the appropiriate one...Not a masterpice for sure, but an excellent piece for those who like technique,complexity and want to learn something more about the human music skills...Highly recommended for fans of PSYCHOTIC WALTZ and WATCHTOWER, recommended also for prog metal fans in general and some jazz/fusion fans too...Anyone who's in love with the 70's prog rock sound should simply pass by...

Review by ProgBagel
3 stars Spiral Architect - 'A Sceptic's Universe' 3.5 stars

A technical monstrosity.

So far, out of the all music I have ever heard in my life, this is probably the most technical. Each member of this band is certainly a master of their craft but things go a little overboard with the technicality. There is a constant change of time signatures, tempo's and the like, but sometimes it just gets questionable as why too much.

The best performance by far is the bass work or Lars Norberg. Any fan of the instrument will surely appreciate his work. The bass playing sounds like an improvisation, and the listener can be sure to notice it because he is very loud in the mix, which would make a lot of sense due to his stand out product. Even though the musicians that play on the album are as proficient as can get, the bass playing of Lars Norberg still stands out.

What did not stand out were the melodies. I feel that sometimes they lack the sensibility of playing along the same lines and they let things go out of whack, a result of the technicality just going a bit too far for technical sake. The singer, Oyvind Haegeland, is reminiscent of Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson, except being able to obtain a higher pitch in his voice. Much like the instruments, there is only so much of his voice one can take as well.

This release is something that a technical metal fan would love to the fullest. An opposing player to the genre will find nothing but unhappiness. I tend to think that this is a great album, but the instruments start growing apart from each other so much that it becomes too much for the ear. I think Behold.the Arctopus can do the opposite of this. Go crazy and retaining the melodies is what they can achieve with ease. Sadly, this band does not. I would recommend Twisted into Form, co-created by the guitarist from this band, if you indeed loved this release.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars This is one of those reviews I coudn't wait to write because i'm so excited about this album. I was really surprised to see how low this was rated but my faith was restored when I saw UMUR's 5 star review. He's the Tech / Metal expert on this site as far as i'm concerned. Anyway the vocals on this album are like a cross between Arch and Lackey (Graves) while the music also reminded me more of FATES WARNING and PSYCHOTIC WALTZ than anyone else. That complex precision of the latter and the grinding guitars and melody from the former. In the liner notes they thank the great Ron Jarzombek and Sean Malone among others. The latter also guests on one track with his Stick. Man Norway has given us so many amazing bands but this one might be at the top of the heap.

"Spinning" is such an impressive opener. So technical and complex. The vocals come in quickly and check out the drumming ! Killer bass 2 minutes in followed by some blistering guitar. A great intense section follows to end it. "Excessit" is intricate with more amazing bass as those grinding guitars come in. I like when it settles a minute in then the grinding guitars return again. Great bass ! I'll be saying that a lot in this review. Check out the guitar after 3 1/2 minutes ! "Moving Spirit" opens with vocals and crisp drumming as the guitars comes in. Some incredible guitar before 2 minutes. Great tune. "Occam's Razor" is a 1 1/2 minute instrumental. Some atmosphere early then Malone come in late with his Stick.

"Insect" is complex yet melodic early. Check out the bass ! Vocals come in and then it gets heavier as it slows down some. A ripping guitar solo before 2 1/2 minutes. A thunderous soundscape before 5 minutes. "Cloud Constructor" has such a good bass / drum intro then it kicks in with a powerful yet slower soundscape with vocals. A calm before 3 1/2 minutes. This is great ! It kicks back in a minute later. So impressive ! "Conjuring Collapse" opens with some nice drumming as the guitar comes grinding in joined by bass. Killer track. The vocal melodies 5 minutes in recall Arch. Great ending too. "Adaptability" is heavy with some outstanding bass as grinding guitars come and go. Riffs 2 minutes in as it settles down and the vocals are almost spoken. It kicks back in with power as the guitar lights it up. "Fountainhead" is the closing track and my favourite. Just an awesome sound before a minute. This is incredible ! Vocals 2 minutes in. Fantastic soundscape here. It settles 4 minutes in with some nice bass then it kicks back in a minute later.

UMUR recommended to me a band called TWISTED INTO FORM which features Kaj one of the lead guitarists on this one. I just checked out a song sample on this site and was promptly blown away. It's on my "to get" list.

Review by FruMp
1 stars What's the point really?

I should preface this review by saying technical metal is one of my favourite genres. Atheist, Cynic, Watchtower, Coroner and Voivod rank among some of my favourite bands. So it is not due to any kind of unfamiliarity that I base my judgements.

This album is a crime against technical metal. It is the definition of what people do wrong in the genre if I were ever asked to describe the bad aspects of technical metal I would simply point out this album. For good bands technicality is a means to an end. Bands like Atheist use technicality as a device to convey their musical message - and as they showed on their Elements album they don't particularly need it to make good music. For Spiral Architect though, the AIM is technicality - it isn't used as any kind of device for making good songs. There are no riffs you can hang onto, there are no parts that stand out or sound good, it's pure chaotic nonsense. Even bands on the higher end of the technicality spectrum such as Behold ...The Arctopus and Spastic Ink have riffs, hooks and catchy parts that make you enjoy a song and want to listen to it again.

I'm not sure why this album was created, surely at some point the people that made this cacophonous mess must have had a point of self-realisation (why the hell are we doing this, does it even sound good?) or perhaps it's just an elaborate practical joke. Regardless if you like avant-garde experiments which seek to be intentionally unlistenable give this a listen, if you like good tech and good song writing then don't even waste a download on it.

Review by b_olariu
4 stars Spiral Architect is one of the most intristing bands ever from progressive metal. I don't think that they are Tech/Extreme Prog Metal only prog metal, at least to my ears. I know this album since he was released almost 10 years befor. I must confess this was and at some point still is one of the most intristing and captivating albums ever from my collection. The album released in 2000 named very explicit A sceptic universe is one of the most complex albums I ever heared, in top 10 for sure for the highly complex compositions. Now, I saw that for some this album is a masterpiece for others is a waist of time, because of their unique manner of composing and arrangements, pieces are so complex that sometimes hearts my ears, but overall is a pleasenty album for sure. I like this kind of prog metal, to be complex, maybe some parts are to sophisticated and for that reason they are a little boring, but only in places. Melodicity on this album is almost none, or better said is but in their view, as Spiral Architect want to be, that gives to the album a unpleasent aura for most of the listneres. All pieces are good, two of them are highly recommended : opening track Spinning and Insects, two of the most elaborated in manner of composing and musicaly speaking pieces I ever heared, this guys are simply crazy. Sometimes they reminf me of Watchtower or Fates Warning. The jazzy elements of bass lines interplays simply amazing with the drum chops made by Asgeir Mickelson, great drumer. So, a very good progressive metal album in my view a 3.5 rounded to 4, still not a masterpiece in my ears but worth investigated.
Review by Andy Webb
3 stars Is that a solo or a tornado?

Spiral Architect is an interesting band. They emerged like a small flame in the intense heat of the mid 90s' "jazz metal" frenzy, where bands like Death, Atheist and Cynic were releasing revolutionary music with the interesting fusion of jazz and technical death metal. Spiral Architect has a very similar style to Elements era Atheist, with an intensely fast and speed driven jazz fusion esque bass and guitar lines, this time with more melodic vocals. The band released a single album, A Skeptic's Universe, in 2000 before disintegrating into oblivion. The band, even with just one, obscure album, has succeeded in leaving a significant mark on the progressive metal world with their interpretation of a brief musical movement.

The album's musical makeup is very similar to much of the jazz metal of the era, with a bit more thrash metal, melodic vocal pieces, and a slightly dissonant guitar feel at points. Although they have obvious influence in the likes of Atheist and Death, the band is still able to break away with a slightly more unique style, fusing more traditional progressive metal, jazz, and thrash metal to make an interesting view on the jazz metal scene. The songs have some really superb points, but others seem like essentially every other jazz metal band of the time period ? fast, intense, technical metal manias with ample shredding and hard post-bop influenced bass lines. Although the music at times seems like nothing special with the slew of bands just like it, it does have a slight attractive quality that makes the cold lines of intense music appealing.

One think I'm really bent on is whether to say I really love the incredible audible, intense bass lines, or say that they're unnecessary. Although I absolutely love the fact that they are on the same aural level as the hissing guitars, some part of me thinks their over-technicality adds some kind of a frigid, inaccessible quality to the music. Although they are "necessary" to make the music have that "jazz" feel, at times they just aren't right for the music. However, I must commend the band for their incredible skill of adding an odd harmony between the tornado off bass lines and the crunching, technical guitar lines. Although at times the crazy frenzy is a little scary, overall the band has done a superb job of crafting a very interesting technical metal album.

Overall, this album, all together, is a very balanced display of technical metal. The band manages to balance being like every other tech metal of the age with having a unique and defining sound, making for a good, but not overly remarkable album. This technical monstrosity has its genius moments, its "that was unnecessary" moments, its moments of almost ironic melodic grace, and its moments of "this is just like every other tech metal band ever," equaling out to a good, but non-essential album. One can find more pleasure with bands like Death, Cynic (especially Cynic), and Atheist. Although this album is in no way bad (it is quite good, in fact), it is no essential addition to a collection, unless the listener wants a more inclusive tech metal collection. 3+ stars.

Review by Necrotica
5 stars Playing technical metal music can be a bit of a risky gamble. While it's often fun to showcase your skills in a more complex and intricate setting, the balance between emotion and technicality tends to be incredibly tough to strike effectively. Sure, bands such as Brain Drill and Trigger the Bloodshed could pull you in with their insane levels of musicianship, but how long will it be until you get bored of pure technicality and brutality alone? How about integrating some atmosphere, or maybe some meaningful interludes to offer some breathing room? Well, one band from Norway was able to create a wonderful experience of both mind-boggling technicality and borderline- beautiful moments of progressive rock bliss; they are known as Spiral Architect.

Not to be confused with the Black Sabbath song of the same name, Spiral Architect were (and are, since they somehow haven't disbanded) a progressive metal band with technical elements similar to Watchtower or Psychotic Waltz. While their music is strictly progressive metal, it's interesting to note that (other than Scariot) every band Spiral Architect are associated with members-wise are involved with Norwegian black metal. Anyway, they ended up gracing the world with only one studio album, A Sceptic's Universe, back in 2000. First of all, I'm not going to beat around the bush with this statement: A Sceptic's Universe is the most musically technical album I've ever heard. More technical than Necrophagist. Or Watchtower. Or Atheist. Those are not statements to take lightly, but the sheer intricacy and complexity of each composition is absolutely mindblowing. Right from the opening track "Spinning," there's often a sense of chaos and frantic energy despite how calculated each passage is; the guitar/bass interplay of album highlight "Insect" is another fantastic example of this, especially in how the guitar line emulates the unsettling keyboard part in the intro. Then there's the singer 'yvind H'geland, who brings an almost operatic quality to the experience with his strongly-layered harmonies and use of power metal-esque vibrato. His work is especially well implemented within the more melodic moments of the record, such as in the main verses of "Excessit" and closer "Fountainhead," but it also serves the more intense moments with the more dramatic and even semi-theatrical elements involved.

Beyond the vocals, however, the real shock of the experience is in just how much emotion and beauty it all contains. The typical progressive metal wankery certainly hasn't gone away (is it ever truly absent), but the difference is in how much of the wankery is necessary in fitting the confines of the band's songwriting. The way every instrument fits into the overall product ensures that everyone in the band is essential to how the music plays out, and there's not much genuine musical excess to be heard. "Insect," "Spinning," "Conjuring Collapse," and "Fountainhead" in particular feature some amazingly tight playing and wonderful chemistry, while songs such as "Cloud Constructor" and "Adaptability" allow the musicians to stretch their talents over more expansive arrangements. "Cloud Constructor" is definitely one of the standouts on the album because of this, featuring a slower and more sprawling sound along with beautifully harmonized guitars from Steinar Gundersen and Kaj Gornitzka aside often subdued vocals. It even has a few instances of *gasp* 4/4 time! Believe me, it's pretty surprising when considering the rest of the album. "Occam's Razor" is another instance of breathing room on the record, a slow interlude featuring H'geland's synthesizer work to a greater degree while Sean Malone (of Cynic) plays a neat little chapman stick solo near the end. But the more emotional elements of the album even make it to the most technical sections; in fact, there's both a sense of chaos and even what sounds like a sense of impending doom in both the lyrics and the atmosphere. This is especially displayed in moments like the unsettling chugging breakdowns of "Insect" or the slow moments of "Cloud Constructor," the latter displaying a lot of bleakness in its subject matter as well. Finally, I have to mention the amazing talents of bassist Lars K. Norberg and drummer Asgeir Mickelson, who are perhaps the most impressive musicians on this thing. Norberg is especially phenomenal: he just rips through bass lines at speeds I've rarely heard in metal, and his level of precision in the process is just ridiculous.

A Sceptic's Universe, to me, is the route that more progressive metal artists should go in making a record. It's extremely technically impressive, atmospheric, emotional, has plenty of time for thought and intrigue, and is all brought together by quite an underrated frontman (who was also in Arcturus, I might add). The album might occasionally lack in terms of variety, but it's a small price to pay for one of progressive metal's more underrated and overlooked modern gems. If you can handle the ridiculous technicality, you really should try A Sceptic's Universe; it's a near-perfect mix of complexity, atmosphere, and emotion.

(Originally published on Sputnikmusic)

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars The third Watchtower album! Except by a completely unrelated band!

While progressive metal had its origins in the 80s with bands like Queensryche, Fates Warning and Dream Theater bringing the fledgling metal style a greater audience, the true honor goes to the Texas based Watchtower who with their "King Crimson effect" pioneered a release that many consider the very first progressive metal album "Energetic Disassembly" all the way back in 1985. Although very few were listening, they would skip a few grades in the world of complexity just when metal was just becoming popular in the mainstream. While the style would evolve and splinter as new metal sub-genera were springing forth, very few if any bands would emulate the unique technically demanding assault of sizzling metal freneticism geeked out in more jazz infused compositional constructs at least when accompanied by high pitched vocals.

While Watchtower would release two amazingly brilliant albums during the brief run in the 80s, unfortunately very few were listening since they were well ahead of the pack and the overall public was just getting accustomed to the nascent thrash, death and black metal genres, however the techniques involved didn't go unnoticed by musicians themselves. As the 90s saw a huge evolutionary development in the metal universe, the technical aspects that had debuted with Watchtower ended up being used in the newer styles especially in the rich fertile fields of death metal which would soon develop its own technical strain of complexity. While bands like Dream Theater were more akin to symphonic prog of the 70s with more metal aspects, bands like Cynic, Voivod, Atheist, Pestilence and Death would adopt many of these jazzified technical aspects of Watchtower and run away with it.

Far away in Norway, a band called SPIRAL ARCHITECT was born when guitarist Steiner Gundersen hooked up with the remains of the band Anesthesia which included the members Kaj Gornitzka (guitar), Lars K. Norberg (bass) and Asgeir Mickelson (drums). This team of seasoned veterans had a mission and that was to recreate the progressive metal magic that occurred with a very few bands that exercised technical chops in the more traditional 80s metal style in the vein of not only Watchtower but Fates Warning and Psychotic Waltz without resorting to adopting the snarling death growls that the technical metal universe had been gravitating towards since the early 90s. While formed in 1995, it would take the band five whole years to craft their one and only album A SCEPTIC'S UNIVERSE which married the technical finger busting wizardry with the passionately delivered emotional intensity of the classics of 80s metal.

A SCEPTIC'S UNIVERSE offers both a sense of familiarity as well as stunning new mind-blowing displays of technical metal profusion where no compromise is the name of the game however the band's primary focus isn't to blow away the audience (although that does occur) but rather craft cleverly complexly constructed compositions that revolve around rather accessible melodic developments. Much like Cynic and Death, SPIRAL ARCHITECT finds the right melodic grooves to riff around and then simply offers a multitude of progressive variations that include everything from tempo shifts and bizarre dynamic changes to time signature rich angularities. With a firm grasp on not only metal sensibilities, the band incorporate the wide array of jazz influences into the mix with allows an amazing dexterity in polyrhythms and contrapuntal gymnastics that leave the listener bedazzled in disbelief.

With a keen sense of guitar riffage that would prove to be influential for death metal hybrids like Necrophagist and a keen sense of traditional power metal from the likes of Crimson Glory, SPIRAL ARCHITECT is like the ultimate tech infused tribute band that not only nails all the head-spinning technical workouts like pros but also seamlessly evoke many of the greats that led up the turn of the millennium when this was released. A SCEPTIC'S UNIVERSE is one of those albums that is literally flawless but yet seems a little too derivative in its blatant rampage through the Watchtower meets Psychotic Waltz meets Fates Warning worship. While the impeccable juggling act of emotional fortitude, instrumental prowess and atmospheric embellishments warrant a 5 star rating, the fact is that this band merely took what was already presented by their influence and exaggerated everything substantially and while a completely satisfying listen in the end, still leaves a slightly bad taste in my mouth because i really want this to be a new Watchtower album which is what it sounds like.

While technically this technical band from Montreal, Quebec is still in existence, the reality is that in their two decade plus existence, they have only released this sole album and most members are involved in completely non-related projects mostly existing in the black metal realm, however for those who completely despise death growls for vocals and in the process are completely shut out of the magnificent wealth of technical death metal bands that exist in the 21st century, this will be an album that satisfies on many, many levels and if it weren't for the exaggerated Starcastle effect (the band that cloned progressive rock Yes' early works), i'd be on board for declaring this a bona fide masterpiece and if it actually were the third Watchtower release or the next chapter of Psychotic Waltz or even a blip on the Fates Warning canon, i would indeed but i do subtract points for being too blatantly inspired. Still though, impressive album that must be heard by any fan of progressive metal's top tier albums.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Spiral Architect stand alone at the peak of tech-metal's mountain. While many criticize this release for being just an excuse to show off the musician's chops, the truth is, in my eyes anyway, that the complexity creates it's own atmosphere. It's like the best science fiction that just chal ... (read more)

Report this review (#2434617) | Posted by Todd M. | Sunday, August 2, 2020 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This ugly duckling of an album is often labeled technicality for technicality's sake. This is certainly highly technical speed/jazz-influenced metal, at first listen chaotic and indistinguishable, with all instruments seemingly playing in parallel (skeptic) universes. But at the same time is not ... (read more)

Report this review (#1529622) | Posted by Progrussia | Monday, February 15, 2016 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I love this album! I just had to write a review about it. I was surprised to see so many reviews teetering on either side of the spectrum, love or hate, 1 star or 5 star along with many 3 star! Wow, it's true though. This is THAT kind of album. It's uncompromising. It's special. It's unique a ... (read more)

Report this review (#1149972) | Posted by AgostinoScafidi | Tuesday, March 18, 2014 | Review Permanlink

3 stars (5/10) I'm not sure I'll ever be able to properly make my mind up about this one. My opinion can vary wildly even during a listen, so I'll go somewhere in the middle. The reason is that "A Sceptic's Universe" is pretty much an unremitting maelstrom of technical metal. To call Spiral Architect a ... (read more)

Report this review (#947477) | Posted by ScorchedFirth | Monday, April 22, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I have only some simple and direct ideas about this exceptional album! Geniality is mostly not understood! Some people are living before their time and age! This is an album made to prove that technical metal,Prog or whatever can produce pure msuical masterpieces! A sceptic's universe is the u ... (read more)

Report this review (#256603) | Posted by Ovidiu | Thursday, December 17, 2009 | Review Permanlink

2 stars I was quite disappointed by this album. A technical monstrousity, really: a stormy chasm of virtuosisms which cut your breath out, really. But how cold! The songs are the most intricate, the sound is heavy, pulsing, dark. Every instrument plays as if driven by madness. All of this is good, but th ... (read more)

Report this review (#176326) | Posted by pepato | Tuesday, July 8, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This disc took a few listens for me to really enjoy it. I appreciated it after the first listen, for all of the aforementioned technical reasons but I'm not one for the high register wailing that acts as the wrapping paper for the music. I didn't like that style of vocal work when I was a kid ... (read more)

Report this review (#153668) | Posted by JRuined | Sunday, December 2, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars what more can be said (that is positive about this) other than this release is utterly GODLY! truly the culmination of great talent and the pinnacle of tech metal thus far......everyone is pure perfection, I even love the bass production pushed up in the mix....all other members are exceptional t ... (read more)

Report this review (#150047) | Posted by avalanchemaster | Saturday, November 10, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars As I am trying to collect my thoughts about what to write about Spiral Architect, I can't help but wonder about some rather degrading reviews. Of course, anyone can write anything about anybody as long as it sounds sophisticated enough (or the reviewer, for that matter), but to judge a band of t ... (read more)

Report this review (#132117) | Posted by andympick | Tuesday, August 7, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars What can I say about this album.... I can understand the mentality of it's detractors, but at the same time I want to pity them for not being able to enjoy what I consider to be such a masterpiece of progressive music. This music is not about that catchy chorus that you hum along to, or touchy ... (read more)

Report this review (#99448) | Posted by Metalhead28 | Saturday, November 18, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars To listen this band is a experience from excessive virtuosity, without a doubt nothing I could be attributed to them as far as the interpretation that is brilliant if it doubts, but without a doubt until certain point they exaggerate because the point of this disc is the virtuosity, have excit ... (read more)

Report this review (#88651) | Posted by Shelket | Friday, September 1, 2006 | Review Permanlink

1 stars There are two kinds of metal bands who play with an insane amount of technical ability. Those who are intent on melody as well as technicality and those who just pile on the technicality, no matter how terrible it sounds. Spiral Architect's lone effort falls into the latter category. It's like th ... (read more)

Report this review (#77184) | Posted by dagrush | Thursday, May 4, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I cannot give a unique rate, because it is necessary to split the music from the voice in reviewing this album. I've chosen three stars just because it is the intermediate one. THE MUSIC: 5 stars Despite it could be easy to judge "cold" or "mechanic" this kind of music expressivity, we canno ... (read more)

Report this review (#70649) | Posted by lineateorica | Monday, February 27, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Well, what happened if you see a body of woman with 2 heads, arms that do not belong to the body or another anomaly, a Frankenstein?, you'll think: That's wrong!!! Why is it wrong? Because there's something that doesn't fit in the body, right?, Well, this album is something like that: the sound ... (read more)

Report this review (#70604) | Posted by CGH Tompkins | Sunday, February 26, 2006 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Whether naturally or for novelty, Spiral Architect have created perhaps the most technical metal album that I've ever heard. The highlight of the album really is the rather unique bass playing. The overall tone of the instrument really helps to separate the bass player Lars from others, and the almo ... (read more)

Report this review (#54903) | Posted by Equality 7-2521 | Sunday, November 6, 2005 | Review Permanlink

2 stars . I 've been listening to prog music since i was a little boy, so i'm very open minded when it comes to prog music, but this particular album is just too much... its like an improvisation, there is no melody at all. track after track is the same thing, its like a very long song; none o ... (read more)

Report this review (#43275) | Posted by | Thursday, August 18, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I've never heard any prog like this...the virtuosity of every member in this well-oil machine and the mindblowing composition of each song are both enough to have this go down as one of the world's best prog. albums. ... (read more)

Report this review (#41239) | Posted by | Monday, August 1, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Yeah Baaaaaby. This-is-it!! A masterpiece for sure. Unlike Meshuggah, Martyr, Theory in Practice and many other bands in this category, Spiral Architect can be separated from the pact by the fact that they have keyboards and use them to great effect in their very challenging and aggressive sty ... (read more)

Report this review (#25444) | Posted by | Sunday, January 23, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This record evokes the uniqueness of CYNYC'S FOCUS, an extraordinary performance, revealing the technical capabilities of the players, that actually is the least thing to say, beacuse the compositions are quite complex and "fusion-like" with a lot of reseamblance of Mr. Pastorius and Mr. Colaiut ... (read more)

Report this review (#25443) | Posted by arqwave | Monday, December 27, 2004 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I got this album in the mail about two years after my friend (who is now my fusion band's drummer) showed it to me. I did not like it back then because I was into stuff like Greenday and all that, and I thought this had bad timing (lol!) and was too cluttered (wtf?). But after a while I fi ... (read more)

Report this review (#25441) | Posted by Prog_Bassist | Saturday, November 13, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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