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MICHAEL PINNELLA

Symphonic Prog • United States


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Michael Pinnella biography
MICHAEL PINNELLA is better known as SYMPHONY X keyboardist so his inclusion in the Symphonic sub-genre sounded strange, but after listening his only release I could understand it more, he's very close to Symphonic but still I find many elements of Neo Classical and clear Malmsteen plus Deep Purple influences.

Michael was born in New Jersey in 1969, since he was 4 years old started to study Piano and developed a particular love for Mozart's music until he reached the age of 10 and listened Malmsteen who impressed him, he only starts to study Music Theory and Composition in College.

He started working as a music teacher in a store and the owner who was a friend of Michael Romeo made the first contact with the band and the rest is well known history, that leads to his musical adventure with SYMPHONY X.

In 2004 parallel to his career with SYMPHONY X, MICHAEL PINNELLA releases his first solo album "Enter by the Twelfth Gate" which is more than average despite being a Synth only release, but again, even when the Classical influences and the clear Symphonic elements he blends a lot of other influences that go from Heavy Metal to Electronic and Hard Rock.

The main problem is that awful bass programming and drum machines, the guy should recruit flesh and bones musicians to release a better album, his skills are undeniable and leave me the impression that he's capable of making something more challenging than a 2.5 or 3 stars album with excellent performance but some extremely cheesy moments

I believe the main force is Symphonic and the album not so it's a valuable addition for the sub-genre and for any proghead with an eclectic taste that is used to drum machines, something I can't stand.

Will have to wait for his next release to decide if he's moved to Art Rock or other eclectic sub-genre, in the meanwhile I feel relatively comfortable with him in Symphonic.

Iván Melgar Morey

Michael Pinnella official website

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Enter By the Twelfth GateEnter By the Twelfth Gate
Import
Inside Out Music 2004
Audio CD$3.12
$2.40 (used)
Enter By the TwelfEnter By the Twelf
2009
Audio CD$16.99
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MICHAEL PINNELLA discography


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3.45 | 20 ratings
Enter By the Twelfth Gate
2004

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MICHAEL PINNELLA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Enter By the Twelfth Gate by PINNELLA, MICHAEL album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.45 | 20 ratings

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Enter By the Twelfth Gate
Michael Pinnella Symphonic Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Michael Pinella is one of the most well known and in same time respected keyboard player from prog metal field. He is together with excellent guitarist Michael Romeo the head and main composers of the prog metal act Symphony X. I'm a fan of the band for years and because of that I've decided to check his first and only album relesed under his name. Enter by the twelfth gate issued in 2004 is a fine piece of symphonic prog constructed on keyboards. Everything what is to be heared here is made by him, besides the keyboards and orchestrations, he is responsable for bass lines, drum programming and all the sounds. He done a good job for sure, he is a master of the keyboards for sure, but I don't think this release is an excellent offer, at least for me. Mainly I think the talent and skills of this musician are more puted in evidence while is in the present of Michael Romeo from Symphony X, together they made some outstanting arrangements, really fascinating. Here where is only him, the passages are little , I don't know how to call it, dull, not bad for sure, but without substance. The album is pretty much dominated by his instrument, where the passages are ok, no bad pieces here, but no highlits either. He toys with neo classical arrangements combined with of course progressive moves, this is no metal album as we may think and expect from him. personaly I find the release ok, I'm not fond of that piano concerto parts at all, I found it unnecesary here. Let's say 3 stars for this one, I prefer him 100 times more on Symphony X, still enjoyble to listen when relaxing or want to have a nice quite evening.

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 Enter By the Twelfth Gate by PINNELLA, MICHAEL album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.45 | 20 ratings

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Enter By the Twelfth Gate
Michael Pinnella Symphonic Prog

Review by progrules
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Michael Pinella is the keyboardplayer of the famous Symphony X and actually that is the reason why I bought this album. Because I'm a big Symphony X fan and Pinella is an important link in the band. I got most impressed with him when I saw the band live in Amsterdam (2002) and Michael Pinella did the entire orchestral part of The Odyssey on his keyboards reaching at least 90% of the original studio version of the song, an incredible performance.

Since I saw him doing that my admiration had of course increased and when you see a solo effort from him in the store I think it's only logical to buy it. I expected not even too much of it. Because he has no supporting musicians on this album, he is doing 100% of the job here and I don't think it's really fair to expect something like the best material of Symphony X. That would have been simply unbelievable. But I did expect a lot of decent tracks and I can say Michael did succeed in producing those. After two fine warming up songs we come to a true and honest (well ...) piano concerto ! It's one of 5 minutes (mov.1) but I really like it because I'm also a classical music lover so I can appreciate a thing like this. At times this song contains some resembling moments with V and Odyssey but just a few notes. Enter by the 12th Gate (title track) is another classical-like track, Pinella is really good at these things ! Next one, Falling from the Sky contains once again some SX elements, it's really recognizable here. Welcome to my Daydream is a bit more in pop-style than classical, another decent track. Next two are movements 2 & 3 of his piano concerto. Altogether a short piano concerto but I think it's ok. I can't really say from this point of the album that the best is yet to come, that would be exaggerated but the rest of the tracks are nice/good making the overall performance of Pinella on this album good/very good. Which means it's close to a 4 starrating. But that is overdone really I have to admit, so 3 (3,4). Recommended for Symphony X fans who especially admire Pinella's contribution.

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 Enter By the Twelfth Gate by PINNELLA, MICHAEL album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.45 | 20 ratings

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Enter By the Twelfth Gate
Michael Pinnella Symphonic Prog

Review by Shelket

5 stars I have always liked discs in solitaire of the key distas in this case the one of SYMPHONY X, that in truth I leave myself hit with this work in which she does everything, programs low and the battery, simply this man only does the one of a band, without a doubt I am demonstrated with this work that nonsingle Mr. Michael ROMEO is the base of that interpretativo power and mythical talent or in the opposite case Mr. PINNELLA learned well of the teacher, is as it is the case this disc is very good and highly recommendable, I continue hoping I irritated wakes up the titan of the Power Progressive Metal, that been has slept after the Odyssey, is rumored that the new work eclipsara to the previous works and which will be double, single I wait for at least one of both rumors is certain or in any case that they remove something so that already they took much, at the moment I remain with this fantastic and magical work.

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 Enter By the Twelfth Gate by PINNELLA, MICHAEL album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.45 | 20 ratings

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Enter By the Twelfth Gate
Michael Pinnella Symphonic Prog

Review by Dan Yaron

4 stars Michael Pinella is a member of the prog metal band Symphony X, however, his solo album is NOT metal music. This album is a symphonic prog album! Pinella does a fantastic job with all the instruments! Apparently, he programs a drum machine, but he programs it so well that you can hardly notice that it's actually a drum machine, and trust me, I cannot stand awful drum machines that make the music become terrible. Moreover, the keyboards department is rich and has much to be offered. Pinella combine few elements in this album, from classic music to some soft prog metal influences, but I repeat again, this is NIETHER prog metal NOR any other metal genre. I'd also like to say that Pinella can certainly be added to the list of top notch keyboard players such as Wakeman, Moraz, Greenslade and so on. In short, Get this is if you are in favour of symphonic keyboards, you won't be dissapointed!

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 Enter By the Twelfth Gate by PINNELLA, MICHAEL album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.45 | 20 ratings

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Enter By the Twelfth Gate
Michael Pinnella Symphonic Prog

Review by FloydWright
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This is one of those albums that's definitely more than "die-hard fans only", but especially since it's a first solo effort, I'd probably suggest that unless you are really into classically-oriented synth work, you should probably be a fan of at least one SYMPHONY X album before you get this one. Personally, I did enjoy MICHAEL PINNELLA's first solo album Enter at the Twelfth Gate, and think it belongs in the collection of any SYMPHONY X fan. Let me make it clear--this is not a metal album. Rather, this is classically-driven, with some funky rock thrown in there for good measure. There's a sense of humor and happiness that dominates even the darker sections of the music; I imagine some might find it "cheesy", but I'm not bothered. Some parts resemble modern video-game scoring, with the sudden jumps between themes and moods.

As a die-hard fan, I could tell from this that PINNELLA is the source of some of the intricate arrangements found in albums like V: The New Mythology Suite, in conjunction with ROMEO--though I did think I started to get an idea which part of the composing and arranging he is responsible for (more on that shortly). Also, PINNELLA provides some fantastic keyboard work from both a technical and atmospheric/emotional standpoint. While--of course--he spends some time showing off how fast he can go and what kind of classical training he has, PINNELLA's playing does not suffer from the sort of coldness and outright self-indulgence one hears from a keyboardist like JORDAN RUDESS. While only 1:24 in length, the emotional highlight of the album was the sweet, melancholy "Departing for Eternity", where, somewhat reminiscent of V's "Rediscovery, Part 1", PINNELLA's synth gently weeps.

Don't be scared of the idea of a synth-only album...the technology PINNELLA employs is pretty good, and the producton (with one little bitty exception) shines. A pretty convincing piano lends warmth to the sound. Also, I actually found myself checking the CD notes to see if he'd hired a session bassist--but no, that was actually PINNELLA himself. The synth drums don't come off sounding too much like a drum machine; rather, it's clear that PINNELLA took the time to write out all of the parts, and there's a clear RULLO influence in tracks like "Edge of Insanity", "Live for the Day", There might be some who wouldn't care for the tone of the electronic soloing synth--but if you are a fan of SYMPHONY X, you already know it and love it, so don't worry. The album is littered with some very creative chord sequences, arpeggios, and piano work--including PINNELLA's breaking out the (synth) Hammond to great effect in "Cross the Bridge"! That's an effect I definitely hope he carries over to SYMPHONY X more often if possible.

Ironically, what does hamper this album is the opposite of RUDESS' problem with staying on one thing and beating on it ad nauseum. Rather, PINNELLA has quite a tendency to jump around schizophrenically between themes, moods, and atmosphere, hardly staying on one thing for even a minute at a time, and (in my opinion) sometimes not seeming to spend much time in really planning out transitions. This is why I have an extremely hard time singling out favorite songs--because it seems to be made of a hundred tiny little "songlets"! Probably the most utterly jarring example of this mile-a-minute, ADD-type mentality (mind you, I myself have ADHD; therefore do not accuse me of slamming the category to which I belong!!!) is the sudden jump into a full-on Arab musical style in "Moracan Lullaby." Here, not only does the mood and theme change, but for once, the production itself drops dramatically out-of-step with the rest of the album. From this, I get the feeling that rather than PINNELLA, it is guitarist MICHAEL ROMEO that is responsible for the "bigger picture" of SYMPHONY X's songs and albums and perhaps PINNELLA who helps fill in the details and themes.

Ultimately, that's what this album really boils down to: details and themes. You come away with a feeling that you've heard something that's in a million pieces. Mind you, these are a million pieces of something good, something with real potential...but the feeling is that they have not been combined very well and that with some additional work, this could really shine. If you're a SYMPHONY X fan, I suggest having this around. If not...you may want to wait for the next time around, when hopefully PINNELLA will assess his strengths and weaknesses and change his approach where necessary.

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