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SPIRAL ARCHITECT

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal • Norway


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Spiral Architect biography
SPIRAL ARCHITECT is a five members progressive metal band from Norway. These guys play more notes in the space of 30 seconds than some rock bands play in their entire career. The riffs are intricate and layered, often with guitar harmonies. The sound is a mixture of guitar-based melodic, technical metal to the extreme and classic prog vocals. The music reminds me almost like if heavy metal was crossed with improve jazz with a power metal singer in the front. The vocals are densely layered and harmonized in the style of YES. There are so much and refreshing you can do with this style that there's no reason to stop the evolution at DREAM THEATER and FATES WARNING.

After several years of anticipation, SPIRAL ARCHITECT CD "A Sceptic's Universe" emerged in early 2000. This release placed them firmly a top progressive metal, with writing and playing superior to all other non-instrumental progressive metal bands. Overall, the music is very original and captivating. If you like this you'll probably enjoy ANDROMEDA, GORDIAN KNOT, and most definatly FATES WARNING. Its definitely not for everybody. A "Sceptic's Universe" sets the standard for technical metal.

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SPIRAL ARCHITECT discography


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3.62 | 126 ratings
A Sceptic's Universe
2000

SPIRAL ARCHITECT Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

SPIRAL ARCHITECT Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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SPIRAL ARCHITECT Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.50 | 2 ratings
95 demo
1995

SPIRAL ARCHITECT Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 A Sceptic's Universe by SPIRAL ARCHITECT album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.62 | 126 ratings

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A Sceptic's Universe
Spiral Architect Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Progrussia

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 the most extreme example of tech metal I've heard (for inhumanely fast but pointless mess check the Behold... the Arctopus). While playing unconventionally, they still try to contain themselves within a proper song, lyrical and vocal format, with breathing spaces and classical soloing (the very upfront bass is a standout). At the tenth listen some of this even becomes kind of catchy. This album seems to enjoy a love/hate relationship among prog fans, but just to give a perspective - in Russia, with its very skeptical attitude towards prog metal - just read the reviews - this enjoys nearly universal (not skeptic!) praise.
 A Sceptic's Universe by SPIRAL ARCHITECT album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.62 | 126 ratings

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A Sceptic's Universe
Spiral Architect Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Necrotica
Prog Reviewer

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)

 A Sceptic's Universe by SPIRAL ARCHITECT album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.62 | 126 ratings

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A Sceptic's Universe
Spiral Architect Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by AgostinoScafidi

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 and all these things make it truly essential for any progressive metal fan!

This has to be one of my very favourite albums in this genre and it will always stand as a shining beacon of what this genre could produce when the music and only the music is catered to.

 A Sceptic's Universe by SPIRAL ARCHITECT album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.62 | 126 ratings

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A Sceptic's Universe
Spiral Architect Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by ScorchedFirth

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 'challenging' band to listen to doesn't even begin to cover it.

Right from the start we get a onslaught of complicated time signatures, which never really lets up, never really lets you get a hold on any song for too long. To me, it sounds like a technical jazz metal extension of Fates Warning/Watchtower, something further emphasised by the vocals. I also have the version of this album with the bonus track, a cover of the early FW classic "Prelude To Ruin", which I think is absolutely brilliant. Maybe because I already know and love the song I can get a handle on it more easily. Its also the only song I can actually remember anything about once it's over.

Obviously the musicianship is outstanding, and this extends to every instrument. The bass in particular is really high in the mix, and a good addition to the sound. It bounces around weirdly with just as much of a technical flourish as the guitar. All the instruments are insanely complicated though. Did these guys ever manage to play this stuff live? God knows how that would have been possible.

At times though, I'm not sure what I'm really getting out of it. The songs can sometimes not even feel like songs, just formless technicality. I'm not sure if it's meant to sound chaotic, or if it's just so complexly structured that I can't decipher what is going on, but either way I am completely lost for large portions of the 'songs'.

In conclusion... I think I like it? Everyone should hear this, at least. Even if you end up hating it (which I can foresee many a typical prog fan doing) then you'll probably have a morbid fascination with the music. If however, you are a fan of Watchtower, Fates Warning, or any Jarzombek or Malone projects, then seek this out right away.

 A Sceptic's Universe by SPIRAL ARCHITECT album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.62 | 126 ratings

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A Sceptic's Universe
Spiral Architect Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Andy Webb
Special Collaborator Retired Admin

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.

 A Sceptic's Universe by SPIRAL ARCHITECT album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.62 | 126 ratings

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A Sceptic's Universe
Spiral Architect Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Ovidiu

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 ultimate ultra technical metal masterpiece!! This album is the most technical album ever made!Something unbelieveble at what level of musicianship some maniacs of technique can achieve their capacities and abilities!It's simply breathtaking from the first note to the last one!Neil Kernon brings,as producer,a note of perfection to an album already perfect from the technical point of view!Sometimes I think that this album deserves at least the status of Cult, as the sensational and unique CONTROL AND RESISTANCE-WATCHTOWER!And it's twice more dangerous than the Watchtower's album!!! Even in 5-10-25...100 years this album will be a refference...AN ICON! I gave 2 times 5 stars to an historical album!10 Stars!! PURE MASTERPIECE FOR ETERNITY!!!
 A Sceptic's Universe by SPIRAL ARCHITECT album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.62 | 126 ratings

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A Sceptic's Universe
Spiral Architect Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

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.
 A Sceptic's Universe by SPIRAL ARCHITECT album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.62 | 126 ratings

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A Sceptic's Universe
Spiral Architect Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by FruMp
Prog Reviewer

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.

 A Sceptic's Universe by SPIRAL ARCHITECT album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.62 | 126 ratings

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A Sceptic's Universe
Spiral Architect Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

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.

 A Sceptic's Universe by SPIRAL ARCHITECT album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.62 | 126 ratings

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A Sceptic's Universe
Spiral Architect Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by pepato

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 the result is just a cold patchwork of chaotic elements which don't make out an attractive work. The impression is that the band tried to follow the Cynic's lesson, succeeding from a technical point of view, but failing from an artistic one. The sound of the bass pulses over anything, the guitars are just cold as backward sounds. A particular notice needs to be written about the voice: the tone is cold, quite monotone, but the vocal lines followed are very strange and original. This sounds very odd, and makes the record very hard to appreciate, but this mark of extreme originality and audacity is a good thing. I point at two good tracks: Fountainhead and Occam's razor, which features Sean Malone on bass.
Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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