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SYMPHONY X

Progressive Metal • United States


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Symphony X biography
Symphony X is an important progressive metal band that has been born on the fertile American progressive metal scene. The band came into existence when guitarist and composer Michael Romeo recorded a demo tape entitled "The Dark Chapter" with the keyboardist, and future band mate, Michael Pinnella in early 1994. Romeo distributed the tape to various recording labels and, due to the tape's reception in Japan, he got himself a record deal in the Land of the rising Sun with the now defunct Zero Corporations Label.

For Symphony X's first album, the 1995 self titled, Michael recruited bassist Thomas Miller, drummer Jason Rullo, keyboardist Michael Pinnella and vocalist Rod Tyler. Despite not being a bad album, Symphony X is widely considered to be the band's worst album for two reasons: 1 - the album has a relatively bad production; 2 - it does not has Russell Allen. That is because Russell not only has better singing abilities than Rod Tyler, but also because Russell Allen is one of Symphony X's main composers (alongside with Michael Romeo), so the lack of his presence is really something to be noted. In addition, the self-titled debut is the only album that features Rod Tyler as the band's singer.

Only six months after the release of the debut, the band releases their second album, called Damnation Game. Tyler had to leave the band, so Russell Allen was recruited as a replacement. He has stayed as the band's singer ever since.

Damnation Game represents the start of the current band's style for the same reasons why the majority of the fans do not like Symphony X: with Allen in the band and the start of his collaboration with Romeo, there were set the foundations for the band's "traditional style". On the other hand, Damnation Game is still something of a raw album, specially when compared with subsequent releases.

In 1997, the band released their third output, entitled The Divine Wings of Tragedy. This album can be considered their breakthrough album, as it was with Divine Wings that they managed to reach a wider audience than before. The feedback from the specialized media also helped the band greatly to get a foothold in Europe as well as keep growing in Japan, their biggest market so far.

The Divine Wings of Tragedy also can easily be considered the band's first full progressive metal release. Not that their other albums so far didn't had any progressive hints, but this was the first one to fully embrace such tendencies...
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Paradise LostParadise Lost
inside out 2012
Audio CD$9.86
$6.50 (used)
UnderworldUnderworld
Nuclear Blast America 2015
Audio CD$6.69
$5.64 (used)
Twilight in OlympusTwilight in Olympus
Limited Edition
Inside Out Music 2012
Audio CD$10.96
$8.09 (used)
IconoclastIconoclast
Extra tracks · Deluxe Edition
Nuclear Blast America 2012
Audio CD$9.97
$9.45 (used)
V: The New Mythology SuiteV: The New Mythology Suite
Metal Blade 2000
Audio CD$9.85
$6.85 (used)
OdysseyOdyssey
Import
Imports 2010
Audio CD$6.15
$9.54 (used)
Divine Wings of TragedyDivine Wings of Tragedy
Import
Imports 2010
Audio CD$14.77
$67.21 (used)
Damnation XDamnation X
Import
Imports 2012
Vinyl$15.87
$55.00 (used)
The OdysseyThe Odyssey
Inside Out Music 2012
Audio CD$14.94
$1.23 (used)
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SYMPHONY X discography


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

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

2.86 | 177 ratings
Symphony X
1994
3.36 | 216 ratings
The Damnation Game
1995
4.12 | 502 ratings
The Divine Wings Of Tragedy
1997
3.75 | 303 ratings
Twilight In Olympus
1998
4.15 | 623 ratings
V: The New Mythology Suite
2000
3.94 | 497 ratings
The Odyssey
2002
3.79 | 460 ratings
Paradise Lost
2007
3.78 | 420 ratings
Iconoclast
2011
3.89 | 208 ratings
Underworld
2015

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

3.83 | 62 ratings
Live on the Edge of Forever
2001

SYMPHONY X Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

4.26 | 13 ratings
Prelude to the Millennium
1999

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

2.58 | 10 ratings
Rarities And Demos
2005
4.00 | 4 ratings
Without You
2015

SYMPHONY X Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Underworld by SYMPHONY X album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.89 | 208 ratings

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Underworld
Symphony X Progressive Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

5 stars I'd always found that consistency was a bit of a weak point for Symphony X, with only V: the New Mythology Suite being much of a keeper among their early work. Then Iconoclast made a very positive impression on me, and now I actually think Underworld has all their previous work beat, offering a true classic of their power-prog metal style. The band have developed a really nuanced sense of when to be a bit more restrained and when to let forth with full force, having learned that cranking things up to 11 for the entire album isn't always the best way - sometimes your assaults hit harder when you give people a bit of breathing space between them.

Whilst Iconoclast was fantastically heavy and Underworld is no slouch in that department, I sense some of their prog inclinations returning to the foreground this time, and I'd be really interested to see where their sound evolves next. To my ears, at least, Symphony X seem to have hit the most consistently high levels of quality they have achieved over their entire career, and I sincerely hope they can keep it up.

 Underworld by SYMPHONY X album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.89 | 208 ratings

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Underworld
Symphony X Progressive Metal

Review by Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Symphony X continues their winning streak of excellent metal releases with Underworld, an album of monstrous hooks and savage riffing that checks just about every box you could want in a prog-metal album. It's conceptual, features brain-twisting instrumental moments, outstanding vocals, and memorable songs; however, one thing that Symphony X continually brings to the table more than many of their peers is a good old fashioned heavy metal style that is simply irresistible.

I had a gushing review of their previous album, Iconoclast, and much of that praise carries over here as well. This band is refreshingly consistent, crushing it from a songwriting and instrumental perspective. Songs are dramatic and ambitious, but not so much so that the album is weighed down in pretense or narrative baggage. The momentum doesn't let up, and the group strikes a fine balance between "normal" metal riffing and prog-metal scope. Every one of these songs has musical moments that will get in your head: maybe it's a soaring metal solo from guitarist Romeo, smartly integrated keyboards from Pinella, or the excellent rhythm section - which, by the way, is masterfully produced, sounding crisp and clear throughout; how nice to hear every member of a metal group! Likely though, you'll be drawn to the rugged and varied vocals of Russel Allen, who with each release becomes nearer and nearer to the top of my list of metal vocalists. The guy is a champ, delivering the often evocative (i.e., tongue-in-cheek) lyrics with gusto and machismo.

My only criticism is that Symphony X is beginning to tread familiar ground here, but when they produce melodies and hooks, and metal moments so epic, it's hard to argue that it's a bad thing.

Bottom line, Underworld is a ton of fun that should absolutely be checked out by metal fans. The "old" Symphony X was great, but the approach that the band has taken in the past three releases hits harder and aims to please, which it absolutely does. I still recommend Iconoclast as the current entry point to this excellent metal group's library, but Underworld is probably right behind it. Check it out, get your fists pumping, head banging, brain twisting, voice crackling, and emotions satisfied with this excellent prog-metal album.

Songwriting: 4 - Instrumental Performances: 4 - Lyrics/Vocals: 4 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 5

 Twilight In Olympus by SYMPHONY X album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.75 | 303 ratings

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Twilight In Olympus
Symphony X Progressive Metal

Review by Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer

3 stars First, a little bit of context. This is the first review of this album on the archives in close to 5 years; moreover, just as much time has transpired since the release of the band's mega-epic Iconoclast (to which I gave an enthusiastic 5-star review). So there's bound to be a bit of revisionist bias in my feelings, but I'm trying to my best to be objective. With that said...

Twilight in Olympus is a lot of fun. It follows the prog-metal template of the times, thematically and sonically, but is played very well and leaves very little to be critical about. Symphony X is a crazy talented group of musicians, and their take on that prog-metal template is sophisticated. This is not an "every thing and the kitchen sink" metal experience; neither is it a overly thoughtful work of art. Its blend of melodies and metal and nuance sort of sifts its way perfectly into the "good but not essential" rating. It does everything good, but nothing great.

For fans of the band, Twilight in Olympus sounds very much like a slightly more metal take on the same sort of scope we heard in Divine Wings of Tragedy. The band is still growing, still flexing their muscles, and it shows mostly in their song writing, which isn't as sticky as later albums.

For newcomers, Twilight in Olympus is a blend of outstanding metal riffing and faux-symphonic stylings. Symphony X sounds more grandiose in scope than that "other" prog-metal group whose heyday was during the late '90's/early 2000's, thanks mostly to their fantastic lyrics and use of keyboards. Pinnella is a fine player, no doubt; his keys come across as less busy as other prog-metal groups though, in the sense that he's mostly filling space or textures as opposed to jumping into the foreground soloing. He also selects a palette of sounds synthesizing reconnaissance-era organs or harpsichords or whatever (at least that's my take; I'm not a historian of keyed instruments!). This gives the album more of a neo-prog feel. Depending on your outlook, that's pretty cool! You've got crazy metal chugging and bass lines sitting alongside tinkling or symphonic keyboards. Again, I'm sort of middle of the road on this. It works, but doesn't connect with me as much as we'll hear on later works.

In the end, Twilight in Olympus is a perfect example of a 3-star release. Get it and you won't be disappointed, but you probably won't place it at the top of your prog-metal playlist. Great stuff for those having experienced the band's later works, or who like Symphony X's voice, but not the heavier style of those later works.

Songwriting: 3 - Instrumental Performances: 4 - Lyrics/Vocals: 3 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 3

 Underworld by SYMPHONY X album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.89 | 208 ratings

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Underworld
Symphony X Progressive Metal

Review by Pastmaster

5 stars "Underworld" is the ninth studio album by progressive/power metal band Symphony X. Ever since 2007's "Paradise Lost", Symphony X has gotten increasingly heavier from album to album. Their last album "Iconoclast" was a heavy slab of crushing metal, and they continue to go further with the prog/US power/thrash/groove hybrid that they have developed with a few more things added in.

The albums begins with a symphonic opening appropriately titled 'Overture', before the entrance of 'Nevermore' which is a great US power metal song. The songs range from melodic power-oriented songs like the aforementioned song and 'Charon', power ballads like 'Without You' and 'Swansong', full-on power-thrash/groove songs like 'Kiss of Fire', and various combinations of styles. The epic 'To Hell and Back' is a perfect example of the combination of all these sounds. Also, what other power metal albums can you think of that have death metal elements? Just take a listen to some of the riffing on the title track and 'Kiss of Fire', it sounds straight out of an old school death metal album.

'In My Darkest Hour', 'Charon', and 'Kiss of Fire' are probably my favorites on the album, the latter easily being my favorite Symphony X song. Russell Allen's vocals are amazing, on this one song he goes from great melodic vocals to gruff groove-metal vocals to powerful screams. This combined with Michael Romero's crushing grooves getting pounded into your skull makes this one addicting head-banging listen. 'Charon' has a really nice middle-eastern sound to it, reminding me of a cross between the bands Kamelot and Ra. Allen's vocals and Romero's riffs really shine on 'In My Darkest Hour', it's hard for the chorus to not get stuck in my head. While the vocals and riffs are what stands out the most to me on the album, the piano on 'Swansong' is very beautiful and certainly deserves a mention. As does the bass that opens the awesome groovy riffs on 'Legend'.

Overall, if you're looking for a prog/power metal album with a great blend of metal styles then you couldn't do much better than this album. An eclectic and incredibly addicting album, this is certainly one of the best 2015 albums I've heard.

(Originally written for www.MetalMusicArchives.com)

 Iconoclast by SYMPHONY X album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.78 | 420 ratings

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Iconoclast
Symphony X Progressive Metal

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

4 stars "Peace Sells"-era Megadeth with Ronnie James Dio on vocals, everyone on steroids. A cyborg keyboard player whose voice is what he plays. That's my impression of this album.

My initial impression was not so warm. "V: The New Mythology Suite" was my introduction to Symphony X and I loved that album. So I had high expectations. The first comments I jotted down were not very flattering.

The first song, "Iconoclast", includes a choir and a symphony and it's a powerful, heavy, and great song with which to kick off the album. The music is heavier and far more intense than anything from "V".

The next five songs are all excellent metal tunes: fast, furious, brutal, and intense. Like an avalanche that can halt in an instant and become a bulldozer or a quick flourish or artillery assault and then back to an avalanche. The guitars are fast and change from charging riff to machine gun spray of notes to battering thunderous riff. The drums are incredible at abrupt rhythm changes, speed, and unanticipated restraint. The keyboards not as prominent as on "V" but when they are, they're very suitable with a mechanical sound and rarely pretty or delicate.

Russel Allen's vocals sound beefed up compared to ten years earlier and he manages some great Dio "Aahhh-ohh-oh" hollers.

But after five excellent metal tracks, the progressive and symphonic aspect seems to have been abandoned. "When All Is Lost" makes up for it by bringing back the real piano and acoustic guitar and the softer melodious side of the band while still being heavy. This one song is where the band really flex their symphonic muscle and shades of "V" flicker by, reminding us that this is the same band. More of this would have made a more symphonic progressive album, but I've really come to love the heavy side.

Of course I had to buy the double disc. I heard the record company wouldn't release the double album unless a single disc would also be released simultanneously, their logiic being that sales would be better if some members of the public were only willing to shell out for a single disc.

The second disc continues with what we've heard mostly so far: 6-minute fast and furious metal tracks. There are more excellent songs and to be clear each song has its own unique opening so that there's no confusing one for another. I just feel the overall atmosphere of brutally sharp and tight heavy metal remains unchanging. "Reign in Madness" is a longer track so once again there's more room to stretch out the song and add some acoustic guitar and piano. Nothing pretty like "When All Is Lost". The piano here is haunting and the guitar riff heavy. This part is a brief interlude in the otherwise intense track.

A few final words, Allen's vocals remind me also of Luke Easter of Torniquet. There's good melody in the tunes, so it's not just savage shouting or hoarse singing. The music is heavier and beefier with more weight than "V". Though a bit disappointing at first, I now enjoy the album. The sound is well produced; it's not dense and muddy like many heavy albums. Everything is pumped but clear. The guitars and drums work together to emphasize one another and add power to the riffs and playing.

As a metal album, I'd say this one really delivers. For a symphonic/progressive metal album, I think it could use a little more like the title track, "When All Is Lost", and "Reign In Madness". Not an excellent addition to any prog collection but an excellent album overall for those who want a lot of thunderous bang for their buck with very highly skilled musicians.

 The Divine Wings Of Tragedy by SYMPHONY X album cover Studio Album, 1997
4.12 | 502 ratings

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The Divine Wings Of Tragedy
Symphony X Progressive Metal

Review by Progrussia

4 stars On occasion of the release of Symphony X new album, Underworld, let's mark The Divine Wings of Tragedy, which may be their definitive work. By definitive I don't mean necessarily the best (The New Mythology Suite may be their most artistic creation, while the uber-technical power metal of Underworld may be more difficult to play), but the one that best illustrates what they set out to do - marry the thrashy riffs of Metallica and kin, baroque theatricality of Queen and Yngwie Malmsteem's neoclassical leanings with his light-speed guitar/harpsichord-styled keyboard duels. The album begins with three fast-paced rockers featuring some of the over-the-top vocalisms. Following is a medieval- themed epic, three mid-paced clunkers, and the icing on the cake, the 20-minute neoclassical metal piece, that, while being quite cheesy, is remarkably well-composed for metal. That would be a fine end to any other album, but, wait, there's more, in a form of another classically-inspired rock sonata.
 The Odyssey by SYMPHONY X album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.94 | 497 ratings

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The Odyssey
Symphony X Progressive Metal

Review by Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer

4 stars There's a lot to like in this release by prog metal greats Symphony X. The Odyssey shows the band in transition, blending the ambitious and a nuanced song writing of their early releases with the more aggressive approach that knocked my socks off in Paradise Lost. As a result one gets the best of both worlds: a metal release that focuses on composition and a "total package," while also kicking up the intensity enough for those that gravitate towards powerful metal hooks.

One thing that Symphony X excels at, perhaps more than any other prog metal band that comes to mind, is their ability to create mood and vision through their performances. Each musician is fantastic, but the combination of their talents, over which Allen's fantastical lyrics and powerful vocals reach out and grab you, creates an effect that is just plain more fun to listen to than the bathos-ridden schlock about self-reflection and catharsis that dominates the genre. Symphony X doesn't feel like a band of blow-hard "auteurs", nor a band of instrumental elitists that demand to be heard through snapshots of excellence hidden within messy songs. They feel like a group of guys who like telling awesome stories through their music, and as a result the care about every note and every emotion conveyed in their songs. This appeals to me a lot.

Of course... it doesn't hurt that the musicianship in The Odyssey is first rate. Romeo's guitar is relentlessly enjoyable, especially his memorable riffing that compliments the vocal melodies. His soloing is also great through use of dramatic builds in intensity. The metal crunch isn't quite as intense as we'll hear later on albums like Iconoclast, nor is at as filled with as many face-melting moments of awesomeness - but it's still damn good. The rhythm section deserves special attention as well. Rullo's drumming doesn't impress with a profundity of fills, but instead through support of the album's many melodies. Whereas players like Portnoy give you razzle-dazzle, Rullo feels more like he understands how his drumming fits into the tone of the composition, enhancing it's drama and effect through restraint (when called for), and complex rhythms (when needed). As usual the bass player's role in metal music is often forgotten, but The Odyssey's warm production allows us to pick out most of LePond's melodic, and very complex, playing, giving the album a more dense palette to enjoy.

Metal fans will not be disappointed by The Odyssey; it's the total package of hard riffs, fantasy cliches, soaring vocals and solos, all wrapped up in a classy package by one of the genre's best bands. A great addition.

Songwriting: 4 - Instrumental Performances: 5 - Lyrics/Vocals: 4 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

 Underworld by SYMPHONY X album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.89 | 208 ratings

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Underworld
Symphony X Progressive Metal

Review by SillyhatMafia

3 stars Symphony X returns for their 9th studio record, Underworld. I could end the album here with this: If you like modern day Symphony X, don't hesitate to pick this up. I have some more thoughts that I wish to talk about though.

After it's typical opening track, it begins with the first real track, and its single, Nevermore. It starts off on the wrong foot with this one. The opening is powerful and the main riff is classic Michael Romeo chaos. I get lost with the lifeless chorus. It sounds too weak and dull, and it drags on for too long. It has a cool little breakdown section before the solo, which is cool. The track is pretty repetitive, not a good first single IMO. Next is the title track which suffers the OPPOSITE of Nevermore. Minus the intro ( with some very welcomed keyboards,) the song is dull, EXCEPT the chorus which is your epic, strong Symphony X Chorus. Neither of these songs are bad mind you, they would be your typical album filler, except these are your opening tracks.

Thankfully, things pick up steam, starting with, "Without You." Your power ballad-ish song, similar to "Paradise Lost." Good stuff here. Catchy riffs, melodies, chorus. It has an "Accolade" like moment where you hear an acoustic guitar, then piano, drums, bass all come in adding to it, building up to a powerful drum beat, with Jason Rullo smashing away on a crash cymbal. Very Powerful. Next is "Kiss of Fire," which is short and sweet. Unlike any SymX song, it even throws in blast beats! If you want a perfect example of aggressive modern day Symphony X, this is up there with the best. Followed by the track, "Charon," which has grown to one of my favorites. The chorus will get you hooked. "To Hell and Back" and "In My Darkest Hour," are both solid tracks, one is long and builds up, the other is more simple and a headbanger, one that will work great live. "Run With the Devil," opens with a badass Dream Theater like movement, guitars, keyboard and bass all running up and down the neck, drums powering along in the back. Good stuff. The worst track is "Swansong." It's the slowest track. I love me some slow and clean material, but this track is just rather lifeless overall.

Ending is "Legend," which is wonderful. Hooked from the first listen. Again, with a classic Symphony X chorus. Great way to end the album.

As a whole, this album ends better then it starts. I can recommend it. However, I can't help but be let down. It's more progressive then their last album, "Iconoclast," but I feel it doesnt compete with Iconoclast, and for SURE it can't touch Paradise Lost.

Good, recommended, but don't expect the return old Symphony X. I fear those days are in the horizon, and gone for good.

Best tracks: Kiss of Fire, Charon, Legend

3/5

 Iconoclast by SYMPHONY X album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.78 | 420 ratings

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Iconoclast
Symphony X Progressive Metal

Review by Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Right out of the gate you'll know that Symphony X's Iconoclast is going to be that sort of prog-metal album that hits-hard; it'll get your fists pumping, your brain melting, and speakers blasting... and just plain smash the hell out of the competition with a massive show of technical and stylistic flourish. Iconoclast is amazing.

The title opener kicks in the door with fairly standard power-metal atmosphere: epic choirs, big crunchy guitar chords, symphonic keyboards. Then the riffing starts, that powerful, irresistible chugging of Romeo's guitar that grinds with dexterity and aggression and skill - your attention is captured. Then Russell Allen's gravely, masculine, powerful vocals begin - your hairs start to raise. Then the whole band freaking explodes in a world- shattering series of melodies, time changes, instrumental showcases, and excellent soloing that just gets better and better as the 11 minute song unfolds.

And then the next song begins, and then the next, and the next... and it just gets better!

Let's be clear: Iconoclast is not going to win awards for being the most creative prog-metal release. In fact, there's predictability in the band's songwriting, and they use a lot of the tropes that define the genre. This isn't to say it's not top notch among their peers though; these songs are so freaking good, they just aren't experimental. And you know what, listen to Iconoclast and I can guarantee that you won't care. This album is everything that a great prog/power metal album should be, and maybe focusing on the basics is what makes it so good. I don't think I've heard a more addictive metal album.

I'm amazed that the band is able to sustain the momentum throughout the album's massive running length (although you'll probably need break half-way). The first disc especially is packed with more metal, more demonstrations of technical ability, and more memorable moments than you can count. Romeo proves he's a guitar giant throughout (especially in his soaring solo on "Dehumanized"), while Pinella impresses as well with very smart use of his keyboards, such as in the dynamic and more subtle piano work at the album's conclusion. They're never overdone or cartoonish, and his solo moments fit in very well with the tone of the songs. The rhythm section may be one of the highlights of the album. Thanks to an excellent production, we can appreciate all of Lepond's aggressive basslines and Rullo's personality-filled drumming. Symphony X was always sort of a side interest for me, as I got swept up in Dream Theater fandom during my mid '20's... but this album has seriously changed my mind.

To wrap up, I want to spend a few words talking about Russell Allen, both his vocals and the lyrics he's singing. First off... the guy is a beast. Try singing along and your voice will be gone in a few minutes. Try keeping up with the guy's range, and you'll be sounding like a you've got a cold, or are a puny little girl because he can scream and bellow with the best of them. Simply put, he's great. The lyrics, telling a loosely connected story about the synthesis between man and machine, are gloriously corny. Emphasis on the glorious. I'm a big fan of fantasy and sci-fi in my metal, and the lyrics deliver here in a BIG way. The rhymes are epic and memorable, and while listening I frequently daydreamed all kinds of robot on human violence. To me, this is the mark of excellent song-writing: not they convey some deeper message, which is all too often just a bunch of bathos bull[&*!#], but they instead are genuine and fun for the audience. And Allen completely nails it.

So bottom line, if you're a fan of metal music, get Iconoclast, dim the lights, and be transported to a world of massive sci-fi battles and explosions of musicianship that deserve to be at the top of the genre.

Songwriting: 4 - Instrumental Performances: 5 - Lyrics/Vocals: 5 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 5

 Underworld by SYMPHONY X album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.89 | 208 ratings

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Underworld
Symphony X Progressive Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Underworld" is the 9th full-length studio album by US, New Jersey based progressive power metal act Symphony X. The album was released through Nuclear Blast Records in July 2015. It's the successor to "Iconoclast" from 2011. The four years between albums have been spend touring and writing the new album, but also with the bandmembers doing other projects. Lead vocalist Russel Allen has been busy with Adrenaline Mob, the Allen - Lande project, and with Level 10, bassist Mike LePond released a solo album in 2014 where guitarist Michael Romeo was also involved, and keyboard player Michael Pinnella also released a solo album in 2014.

Stylistically the material on "Underworld" pretty much continues down the darker and more heavy road which was initiated on "Paradise Lost (2007)" and which was continued on "Iconoclast (2011)". While the music is undoubtedly US power metal (with progressive leanings, or the other way around if you prefer), Symphony X is among the heaviest and at times even brutal acts in the genre. Guitarist Michael Romeo churns out one catchy groove laden and crushingly heavy riff after another and often crosses the border into thrash/groove metal- and even death metal territory. If that description scared away a couple of power metal listeners, don't worry too much, the music is still loaded with epic guitar themes and keyboards, lightning fast melodic guitar/keyboard solos, anthemic choruses, and a rhythm section who can play both "regular" fast- and mid-paced beats, and more varied progressive inclined dittos.

It's just generally much heavier than what you usually hear in the genre. "Kiss of Fire" and the title track are especially heavy. A melodic power ballad track like "Without You" pulls in the other direction, and "Underworld" is overall a pretty varied album (also including a mini- epic in "Hell and Back"), which successfully showcases the diversity of Symphony X. Highlights are to my ears "Nevermore", the title track, "Without You", "Kiss of Fire", and album closer "Legend". I like "Run with the Devil" too, but it's mostly because it's a bit of a different sounding Symphony X track.

The musicianship is as usual on a very high level. Michael Romeo deserves a mention for his many creative riffs and solos, and Russel Allen is a powerhouse. The type of singer that most acts would kill to have in their lineup. He has a strong voice and a commanding delivery, able to sing both gruff, and higher pitched and melodic. A very skilled and versatile singer that one. The rest of the band members are of course very well playing too, their performances just don't stand out as much as the performances by the two gentlemen mentioned above.

"Underworld" is packed in a powerful, detailed, and professional sounding production, which brings out the best in the music, and upon conclusion it's another strong album release by Symphony X. It's so an so with the innovation and development of the band's sound, so it's not a revolutionary release taking their full discography into consideration, but it's a high quality release through and through and both fans and more casual listeners should be able to enjoy this one. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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