SYMPHONY X – Underworld (2015)
* the Real one
Odds are that even if you’re not familiar with American prog-metal act SYMPHONY X, you’ve at least heard of them before. If you’re anything like me then they may have been on the peripheral of your musical vision for a number of years but for whatever reason you’ve just never shown them much interest. Maybe prog isn’t your cup of metal, or maybe you’ve never been exposed to what they have to offer.
Whatever the case may be, if you are a fan of melodic, metallic heavy music music then you absolutely owe it to yourself to give “Underworld“, the NJ based quintet’s 9th studio album, a proper listen.
Progressive metal is known for incorporating the exemplary musicianship and avant-garde conceptualization of prog rock with the muscle and weight of metal and Symphony X have become masters of just such a juxtaposition.
The problem that many people have with progressive music, whether it be metal or rock, is that it has a tendency to become a bit too cerebral, and meanders off in lengthy musical digressions. Prog metal is not known for its hooks or catchy choruses, that’s for sure.
Traditionally it’s been a ‘thinking man’s metal’, focused more on musical exploration and conceptualization than achieving mass appeal. Here is where Symphony X comes in
“Underworld” displays sophisticated musicianship and composition as well as a discernible attention to songwriting. Guitarist and primary songwriter Michael Romeo has this to say on Symphony X’s official website regarding the new album: “Every song is to-the-point and fine-tuned, with us paying a lot of attention to the hooks, voices, riffs, and keeping the interest and the energy high for the entire record.”
“Underworld” also is remarkable in that it contains some of the heaviest moments that Symphony X have ever recorded, but at the same time, the most melodic. Romeo also stated that “It is heavy and aggressive as fuck when it needs to be, yet soaring and emotional at other times. I think the balance is just right.”
Such is most assuredly the case, as evidenced by the title track ‘Underworld’ with its shredding guitars, concussive percussion and surprisingly vocals from the awesome Russell Allen. This man should be right now the best Rock shouters out there.
Also ‘Kiss of Fire’ is heavy and crunchy, however it is contrasted by the more subdued but equally impressive ‘Swan Song’ with its sweeping orchestration and poignant vocals and the soulful, acoustically driven ‘Without You’.
To be released tomorrow July 24, “Underworld” is a focused and immaculately crafted bridge between prog metal’s insular nature and traditional melodic metal’s commercial appeal, which does nothing to lessen its sophistication.
Symphony X did one of the best albums of the year, one that this blog truly recommends for you no matter which is your preferred genre. This is a perfectly crafted opus, with great songwriting and stupendous production.
A top notch release from consummate musicians.
01 – Overture
02 – Nevermore
03 – Underworld
04 – Without You
05 – Kiss of Fire
06 – Charon
07 – To Hell and Back
08 – In My Darkest Hour
09 – Run With The Devil
10 – Swansong
11 – Legend
Russell Allen – Vocals
Michael Romeo – Guitars
Michael Lepond – Bass
Michael Pinnella – Keyboards
Jason Rullo – Drums
thanks to Farron Watson