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Symphony X - Underworld CD (album) cover

UNDERWORLD

Symphony X

 

Progressive Metal

3.86 | 225 ratings

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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.

UMUR | 4/5 |

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