Symphony X

By Mark Derricutt

It was many a year ago when I was first introduced to Symphony X,'The Damnation Game' had been out for just over a year with 'The Divine Wings of Tragedy' soon to be released - from those opening riffs and vocals I was hooked, and became an fan for life: here was a progressive metal band with huge melodies, harmonies, riffs and solos galore, but with little or no fanfare about being "music for musicians" - the only problem was I was the only one who had seemingly heard of them - my own little secret.

With the release of Divine Wings that secret soon got out, and with each successive album furthering and refining the bands sound, the band was soon a force to be rekoned with.

Underworld, the ninth studio release from the band is the ultimate culmination of all the albums that came before, opening with an intense, orchestral overture, whose dark and brooding expansive soundscape pulls you in deep. Soon however we're led into Nevermore, the first single to be released from the album - a song which threw me off original with it's odd start, but when placed in context of the overture becomes an a natural fit with singer Russel Allen moving effortlessly from his now familar growl to the classic and clean melodic style of old.

I sat down with Michael Romeo last week to discuss the album, the writing process and how they approach things:

"Yeh I mean I think the arangement of the songs, yeh - a little meticulous with that - but I think a lot of the times we start with recording, with not everything in place - leaving a bit of room for like improv or experimenting, every album is different - we don't want it to be so cold and so rigid..."

When talk of Underworld first surfaced, there were rumblings of being the heaviest thing the band had done. We were led to expect a return to less heavier sounds, a mix of the old, a dash of the new, I soon found I knew nothing about what to expect and I let that sit with me - happy to suffer the pain of expectation, and now that the album is here it was well worth the wait.

"...with this album - with Underworld, lets do a bit of everything we've done : keep the heavy stuff for the fans who like the heavy stuff, lets get some of the melodic stuff for fans who like Divine Wings and that progressive element, and the guys just let me go..."

Was I expecting both blast beats _and_ break downs from Jason Rullo - all in the same song? Definitely not - but 'Kiss of Fire' delivered a dash of Symphony X infused black metal (at least for a bar or three) and a pounding head banging stomp frenzy riff rounding it out - easily my favorite song from the album.

Check out the interview below: