Symphony X are one of the most consistent bands in progressive metal. Every release has been high quality and full of great songs played by great musicians. Their latest album “Underworld” is no exception. Symphony X have always always dipped into European power metal to give their sound its uniqueness. Over the last two albums however, the band has gotten a lot darker both in sound and subject matter. “Underworld” is more of a return to what we all remember Symphony X being before.
The last album “Iconoclast” was a massive sci fi thriller and while the album was very good, the theme was unusual for a band known more for literary and mythological themes. The album prior to that one, “Paradise Lost,” was lyrically more the standard fare for Symphony X but seemed to be musically more evil and menacing. “Underworld” reminds me more of “The Odyssey” and “Twilight in Olympus” both musically and lyrically.
“Underworld” also sees the return of the mask artwork from their earlier releases, another hint that this is a band revisiting its rich musical history.
The first single “Nevermore” was a straight ahead rocker which featured very little keyboard work from Michael Pinnella. The song is great however and fortunately Pinnella is quite prominent on songs like the title track which has plenty of synth work, the epic “To Hell and Back,” and “Swan Song” which features his great piano sound and reminds me a little of one of my favorite songs “Accolade II.” Guitarist and composer Michael Romeo is still one of the best guitarists on the planet and whether he is riffing or soloing, he is always the key to the Symphony X sound.
These are some of Romeo’s best songs too. “To Hell and Back” is the perfect example of a Symphony X song. Nearly ten minutes, memorable riffs, great vocals from Russell Allen (as always), a catchy chorus, and excellent solos from Romeo. One of the more interesting tracks on the album is “Without You” which is Symphony X’s first true ballad. Don’t worry, since it’s Symphony X, it has plenty of balls and it is also one of the best songs on the album. Another great track is the closer “Legend” which ends the album on a very high note with the band kicking major ass along with the lyrics “the legend never dies.” Indeed!
4. Without You
5. Kiss Of Fire
7. Hell And Back
8. In My Darkest Hour
9. Run With The Devil
Label: Nuclear Blast