SYMPHONY X – Underworld
Symphony X should not need any introduction, as one of the finest, if not the finest, progressive metal bands around. As for the music and genre, it will always be a matter of taste, but I doubt anyone would ever argue the skills and dedecation this band has shown over the years, and still show, after 20 years and then some. Im a big fan of "The Divine Wings Of Tragedy" and up to "The Odyssey", while "Paradise Lost" from 2007 and "Iconoclast" from 2011 did little or nothing for me. Not sure why, but the magic from the earlier albums was in a way missing, and I kind of lost interest after that. Come "Underworld", full-length album number nine, and its Symphony X right where we want them, dark, powerful and melodic.
First thing first, Russell Allen, what a man. This guy is like an unstoppable force of nature, and he never seizes to impress. His performance here confirms once again why he is considered one of the greatest metal vocalists in the world, talk about power and feeling, absolutly fantastic. At the same time guitar hero Michael Romeo also shows why he is considered one of the greatest metal guitarist of our time, shredding and riffing like a mad man, mixing the best of legends like Malmsteen and fellow prog metal hero Petrucci, but undoubtedly putting his own unique signature to his riffs. Wait, yes, there are 3 more guys in the band, and make no mistake, each and one of them are excellent mucisicans who delivers excellent work. But when you have to icons like Allen and Romeo in the band, it’s not easy to get the spotlight…. Nevertheless, the rhythm section of James Rullo(Drums) and Michael LePond(Bass) deserves credit, and the same goes for keyboard virtuous Michael Pinnella, who gives the music depth and emotion, without completely taking over the show, as some keyboard players in prog metal bands sometimes do. So, all good so far, but without decent songwriting, you’re not getting anywhere. And that is exactly where Symphony X has another ace up their sleeve this time around, delivering song after song of high quality, which leaves this album without any kind of fillers, only top notch material here. From the beginning with "Nevermore", to "Without You" and "Charon", on to "To Hell And Back" and "Swan Song", all songs I have no problem placing among the best work Symphony X has produced so far, which by it selves says a lot. What can I say, Im impressed, satisfied and happy, this is without a doubt the best prog metal release so far this year.