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Progressive Metal • France

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Adagio biography
Hailing from Montpellier, France, ADAGIO was formed in 2000 by guitarist Stephan FORTE, a former graduate of the CMCN Music Academy in Nancy, having undergone compositional studies of the baroque and classical periods as well as Jazz fusion. In 1996, he released his first symphonic metal instrumental demo," Visions", which lead to an opening slot for Yngwie MALMSTEEN. Having added vocals and expanded his catalogue to eight original compositions, he was offered a tentative contract by French record company N.T.S, who suggested he form his own band. FORTE recruited vocalist David READMAN (PINK CREAM 69) to the band, having met him at a concert during summer of 2000, when they quickly became enthusiastic about a mutual collaboration. Although FORTE programmed most of the keyboard arrangements himself, he was ably assisted by Richard ANDERSSON (MAJESTIC), while the line-up was completed by a rhythm section comprising of Franck HERMANNY on bass and Dirk BRUINENBERG (ELEGY) on the drum stool, who were initially called in as guest musicians.

The result of this collaboration was the band's debut, "Sanctus Ignis" (2001), produced by Pink Cream 69's bassist Dennis WARD, having previously worked with VANDEN PLAS, AXXIS and DC COOPER in this regard. Designed as a showcase for FORTE's skills, hallmarked by long, intricate guitar parts of great technical virtuosity, "Sanctus Ignis" could best be described as a dark, slightly melancholic progressive metal release in the symphonic/ neo-classical tradition. Influenced by MALMSTEEN on the one hand and bands such as SYMPHONY X on the other, FORTE's guitars were ably complemented by READMAN's searing vocals, soaring above the Frenchman's compositions, such as "Second Sight", "Sanctus Ignis" and the monumental "Seven Lands Of Sin", however the release became of particular interest of guitarists and received notable success in France and Japan.

Their follow-up, "Underworld" (2003) was the consequence of two year's intense song-writing from FORTE, whose pre-occupation with the themes of death and existence, resulted in an altogether darker release, featuring more overtly orchestral elements supported by Rose HREIDMARR (ANOREXIA NERVOSA) on a vocals, as well as the 50 strong choir 'Ensemble Vocal de Lyon'. The arrival of permanent keyboard player, the classically trained Kevin CODFERT (who would later become more involved in the production and mixing of the albums in his own studio), added to the richness of the orc...
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ADAGIO discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

ADAGIO top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.05 | 101 ratings
Sanctus Ignis
4.04 | 127 ratings
3.58 | 64 ratings
3.47 | 54 ratings
Archangels In Black
3.86 | 21 ratings

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

3.24 | 19 ratings
A Band In Upperworld

ADAGIO Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

ADAGIO Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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ADAGIO Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 Archangels In Black by ADAGIO album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.47 | 54 ratings

Archangels In Black
Adagio Progressive Metal

Review by sgtpepper

3 stars Want to hear how extreme metal can be mixed with symphonic metal and headbang to the sophisticated classically influenced metal? If yes, then this is the album for you! If not, then just sit down and enjoy in a calm manner ;). Archangels in Black is a departure from the first two highly praised classical music inspired works. Darkness has always been present in the Adagio's music. The level of ambitions has sunk since 2003's masterpiece and the band has stepped down from the progressive symphonic metal's top. The music still remains a blend of ingredients, but classical music has been partly replaced by brutal death/black metal growls and you will notice short thrash metal moments too. Melodies are as good as before and the vocalist with the guitar players are dominant guests here. Keyboard is used to round up the atmosphere but not as one of the main elements. The most experimental track and kind of return to the previous form is only the lengthiest and obscurely named "Codex Oscura" ;).

Still recommended to most symphonic metal fans who do not mind occassional brutal moments.

 Underworld by ADAGIO album cover Studio Album, 2003
4.04 | 127 ratings

Adagio Progressive Metal

Review by sgtpepper

5 stars Adagio's Underworld is a very tasty and crunchy blend of progressive and power metal underlined with strong influences from classical music. Although it does not bring anything new on the table what hasn't been invented yet, the design and execution is far beyond anything average in this symphony/progressive metal echelon.

The voice fits the pompeous and epic nature well. Guitars sound aggressive enough just to bend down in classical suites and even switch to acoustic guitars in a few moments. Comparing to some other progressive symphonic metal bands such as Symphony X, keyboards play a more dominant role and playing chops are at the same level as guitar shredding by Stephan Forte. The first album featuring a different keyboards already showed that all band members should be taken seriously. Various keyboards including piano, synths, and organs can be found here. Classical instrumentation is delicate and allows to breath out from heavier moments. The compositions are complex, versatile and verse from easily accessible to very pompous and complex arrangements. Yes, the band can be compared to Symphony X and there are many things in common but Adagio is more symphonic and has more balanced sound. With regards to vocals, I still prefer the rough voice of Symphony X.

This album can hold well on its own and is rightfully one of the best and most ambitious work in progressive symphonic metal.

 Underworld by ADAGIO album cover Studio Album, 2003
4.04 | 127 ratings

Adagio Progressive Metal

Review by nDeck

4 stars The codex of neo-classical style of progressive metal

This album is a masterpiece for the band Adagio, their best album in many aspects. It is sure a great work of composition and recording. The leader of Adagio, Stephan Forte, went in Lyon (France) to record the choir for the album, to give more credit to the project of creating the ultimate symphonic metal album. Every music contains what you here in every other contemporaneous band, intro with strings, long organ bridges, solos of electric guitar and keyboard (don't forget it was made in 2003). Unfortunately, even if the listening of the album gives you a good feeling, every song took apart are not as memorable as the ensemble. There are melodies that drive the song all the way to the end. You find parts of Keyboard/guitar/bass shredding for the sake of shredding and, I'm starting to get sick of these parts...

So a Masterpiece for Adagio, for the progressive rock collection, but sometimes it looses its way with demonstration of technical virtuosity. So it is not a masterpiece of prog music because every master has its balance between virtuosity demonstration and musicality.

To conclude it worth at least one listening to make up your mind if you're a fan of symphonic metal. Underworld is a excellent addition to any collection

 Underworld by ADAGIO album cover Studio Album, 2003
4.04 | 127 ratings

Adagio Progressive Metal

Review by Menswear
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Headbanging in a pirate shirt.

Yep, just like the one Bach wore on his paintings with the puffy sleeves and the cauliflower on the neck. On the more serious side, Adagio is offering a nice (but too sparse) blend of baroque and roll. The keyboard player is giving his share of harpsicord and the impressive choir is giving a zest of gothic impression in an album that doesn't really part from your typical metal band. The singer is howling to the moon, the double bass drum is almost always present and the guitars are vertiginous but non-surprising. They have talent, oh yeah.

The only thing that drawed me to this album was the reviews saying 'it's a blend of classical music and metal'. It is, but not enough to give a deep impression. Try it, you probably will like it if you're looking for something melodious, catchy and loud. I just love the blend of classical music and metal, I think it's such a killer approach. But to me the classical vein should've been more exploited; they had something going on some tracks!

Good but needs more cowbell.

 Dominate by ADAGIO album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.58 | 64 ratings

Adagio Progressive Metal

Review by toroddfuglesteg

2 stars I am the first one to admit that just the thought of power metal fills me with dread. It is one of my least favorite music styles from this planet & further afield. This album really plays on all the strings I do not like.

Pompeous, over inflated sound is what this album brings my speakers and then my senses. The album is based on verse-choir-verse-solo-choir.... well, you get my drift. The vocals is a mix of growls and normal vocals. The guitar solos is diddely-dey-diggi-lo-diggi-lei which is far too common within the power metal genre. The melodies are pretty simple, although the big sound tries to dress up the songs into something greater than they are. The inclusion on this album of a dreadful version of the title track from the very popular movie & TV series Fame is something I cannot fathom. It devalues this album and the band.

There are some pretty good songs here on this album. But Fame is dreadful and so is a couple of other songs too. There is no great songs on this album at all. The solos is uninspired and only the tangent player and the vocalist escapes from this album with their good reputation intact. This album is best forgotten.

2 stars

 Sanctus Ignis by ADAGIO album cover Studio Album, 2001
4.05 | 101 ratings

Sanctus Ignis
Adagio Progressive Metal

Review by Mystery

4 stars Adagio's debut was a very promising album, filled with excellent musicianship, solid songwriting, and fairly good production. This album, along with the follow-up Underworld, are both excellent neo-classical progressive albums. Additionally, this album is the only one by Adagio that is completely devoid of death vocals (although Underworld had very, very few, and only on 2 songs).

The album starts strongly on Second Sight and flows very well. The classical influence is very prominent, yet not overwhelming and in fact perfectly mixed with the guitars, bass, and drums. Forte is a virtuoso-level guitarist, and his solos are both technical and captivating. However, Richard Andersson, while good as a keyboardist, does not provide the same experience as Kevin Codfert who would later replace him and be featured on all prior Adagio albums.

The album, overall, is a strong mix of classical music and metal. Forte composed all of the songs, and he did an excellent job.

Highlights: Inner Road, In Nomine, and above all Stringless Violin

Overall: 4.5

 Underworld by ADAGIO album cover Studio Album, 2003
4.04 | 127 ratings

Adagio Progressive Metal

Review by Mystery

4 stars This Adagio album is the last to feature David Readman, who is my favorite vocalist for the group. Likewise, it was the last appearance of Dirk Bruinenberg, the drummer.

This album succeeds in creating a mysterious, bleak atmosphere, yet all the while remaining beautiful. The orchestra lends grandiose and majesty while not remaining overused. The guitar solos are executed well and highly technical, yet not to an obnoxious extreme. The keyboards are delivered brilliantly by my favorite keyboardist, Kevin Codfert, and add an entirely new dimension to the music. Franck Hermanny's bass, while not very audible, shines when it can be heard.

The music flows well from track to track, and the band shines on every one of them. This album is very good and is one of the better neo-classical prog metal albums out there.

 Archangels In Black by ADAGIO album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.47 | 54 ratings

Archangels In Black
Adagio Progressive Metal

Review by Mystery

3 stars Adagio's newest album is stylistically more like Dominate than Underworld, of which band leader Stephan Forte assured a heavier resurgence. Nevertheless, as wonderful as this new direction is, it lacks the beauty and intensity found in the first two albums Sanctus Ignis and especially Underworld.

The songs are fairly good, but not always memorable. Regardless, there are some gems on this album, such as The Astral Pathway, the title track, and Codex Oscura. The songs flow fairly seamlessly into each other, with the exception of Undead. The song has a beautiful piano intro, but the guitar riff that immediately proceeds it is not transitioned into well. This album also suffers from some forgettable tunes, such as The Fifth Ankh.

All in all, Forte succeeded in creating a very dark and heavy atmosphere with a dominant guitar, yet he did not completely capture the beauty of Underworld. This album, while fun to listen to and filled with expert musicianship, fails to captivate me like other Adagio albums. There is no track on this album that can compete with the Stringless Violin from Sanctus Ignis, or Introitus from Underworld, or R'Lyeh the Dead from Dominate.

Overall, 2.7 stars.

 Sanctus Ignis by ADAGIO album cover Studio Album, 2001
4.05 | 101 ratings

Sanctus Ignis
Adagio Progressive Metal

Review by Epsilon

4 stars Are they the European counterpart to Symphony X?, I don't think so, it's more than that. They're born not as a response to someone or something else. They create a balance between harmony and a wise sense of their musical faculties manifesting the way they feel the music and not trying to be a vulgar copy.

Adagio is the musical concept from another disciple of the neo-classic treatment of electric guitar in last time, his name as some of you already know is Stephan Forté. A guitar virtuoso young promise from France (well, that was a decade ago) who could build a talented act, piece by piece for Sanctus Ignis' recording sessions.

Names like David Readman (main voice on German hard rock band Pink Cream 69), the veteran drummer from Holland Dirk Bruinemberg, the young skilled bassist Frank Hermanny (who's known for working not only in metal and progressive music, but also on jazz and pop music projects in France) and finally the man who's considered as the keyboard version of Yngwie Malmsteen (because of his speed, virtuosity, skill and both are from Sweden), Richard Andersson. They helped him to make his dream come true.

Sanctus Ignis was the first step into the professionalism in music for Stephan, but no one would imagine how powerful and ambitious his music would be. The record is highly enjoyable the most, they focus on existentialist topics in their lyrics, musically they develop a kind of 50/50, I mean, they distribute the melody and progressive marks as much as they give energy and virtuosity to each song.

Songs like "second sight", "in nomine", "sanctus ignis" and "paneut et circences" are authentic exercises of how to play classy prog-power metal while other tracks like "the inner road", "stringless violin" and specially "the seven lands of sin" take us through the complexity of guitar chords, catchy double bass changes, a remarkable work on keyboards and David Readman is taking the flag higher with every line helped by his plethoric voice.

Maybe I would say their only weak point (I must be honest about it) is the lack of originality, but who cares when stuff like this is made so well. To conclude this review I recommend you try to get the Japanese version, there you'll find a nice version of Led Zeppelin's immigrant song.

By: Epsilon.

 Dominate by ADAGIO album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.58 | 64 ratings

Adagio Progressive Metal

Review by Epsilon

3 stars When I talk about the combination of metal, classical music influences and progressive, I always take in mind Adagio's music. I would say that Stephan Forté and his band were a particular experience for my hearings when I listened the debut album (Sanctus Ignis) by first time a few years ago.

Years later when I thought Adagio's first record had not any competition, suddenly Underworld album came out and I knew that a new masterpiece inside the genre had appeared before my eyes. A world of musical softness, classy melodies, a great balance of technique and mostly, an authentic source of talent gave life to one of the most complete neo classical progressive metal albums (maybe "The Divine Wings of Tragedy" from Symphony X could be compared as an equal).

Nevertheless, after I heard Dominate, doubts and questions surrounded me. Where all magic compositions had gone? What happened with the inspiring music landscapes? Was Adagio going to despair?... and the answer is simple NO, in spite of line-up changes (three original members had left the band, including the charismatic voice of David Readman) they wanted to keep the essence of their music and that?s sure.

Once the band incorporated its new elements they tried to blend some ideas and focused some others. For example, that sensation of orchestration isn't as present as before, also some growls they used on Underworld were repeated with more frequency this time. They conducted the music in a less progressive way and more oriented to a melodic metal sound with a darker touch. Perhaps the only questionable point is the final mix sound (quite inferior quality in comparison to their predecessors, it could be better, specially on drums), however Adagio's original attitude is still there, even sometimes I think on this record more like a transition work but only the time will put this record on indicated place

By: Epsilon.

Thanks to tymed for the artist addition.

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