Release Date: 24 July 2015
Format: LP Double Vinyl
|Symphony X Underworld Limited Vinyl 2LP Set
Whether it's the genius writing and execution of Michael Romeo-his thoughts incubating exactly four years since the band's slamming last album Iconoclast-or the richness of experience gained by Russell Allen over a triumphant run with Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Symphony X have struck an enriched level of maturity with this their ninth album, entitled Underworld.Symphony X have triumphed, creating a panoramic old school "album rock" experience in an era cursed with shorter and shorter attention spans.
"This new one is about the song," begins axe wizard Michael Romeo, chief writer in the band, and possessor of The Dungeon, the tricked-out studio in which the album was crafted, newly equipped with the latest in technology required to execute the band's famous symphonic and orchestrated touches with aplomb. "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 whole record, so it can be listened to start to finish."
"Underworld's not really a concept album," agrees Michael, "but like the last couple of records, there's a theme that carries through. I started looking at Dante, and Orpheus in the underworld, where he's going to go to Hades or hell to save this girl. So there's the theme of going to hell and back for something or someone you care about." Immediately with "Nevermore," the focus Michael speaks about becomes clear. Russell is right there with the vocal after a brief, non-nonsense thrash intro, and then the clouds part for a chorus of beauty, Russell sliding a melody on top of a feverish prog riff of erudite magic from Michael.
"Without You" on the other hand is a strident ballad but one full of rock events and vaulted arranging, light vs. shade, soaring harmonies, punch, power, and last but not least progressive time signatures. "That one's a bit mellower, with a big chorus and a sweeping feel. I don't know if I would call it a ballad, but it's a little bit softer, not so much about riff, but more the acoustic and electric interplay."
"And Russell, he's just a natural," notes Romeo. "When he first heard the songs, he had mentioned that he really wanted to sing more, even though the material was heavy. So we put a lot of emphasis on his abilities and making the choruses strong vocally"
But ultimately, to reiterate, the band's goal-and mission accomplished-was to create a record where strength of song was paramount. In that respect, with Underworld, Symphony X have transcended the stigma with which progressive metal is often saddled.
4. Without You
5. Kiss of Fire
7. Hell and Back
8. In My Darkest Hour
9. Run With the Devil