Thursday, July 23, 2015

Symphony X : "Underworld" Review & Lyric Videos

While I grew up on classic metal like Priest, Dio and my favorite metal band Iron Maiden I am pretty picky when it comes to power metal. Kamelot is pretty much my mainstay, though I really loved 2007's "Paradise Lost" in the past eight years my taste in metal has shifted more towards black metal and doom so even their heavier moments don't make me bat an eye.Is it me or does Russell Allen sound more like James Labrie on the opener? Its your typical busy groove that they race along with a little more thrash to them than Dream Theater, but not by much on this one. They pull out a bigger synth heavy sound to the chugging title track.

Right off the bat I like this one better than "Nevermore". Russell sounds more like himself on this one. The riff after he says "Demons and death" is a must head bang to. Drummer Jason Rullo is really getting it done on this one. In bridge Russell soars high like Coverdale era Deep Purple. If you are into progressive metal of this ilk then the interplay of the keyboards with the guitar solo will give you wood. With a song title "Without You" you know there is going to be a power ballad coming. This is not untrue however its more upbeat, with a spry strum leading into your typical power metal chorus. While in some ways this is color by numbers, they color in those numbers well and its hard to fault them for pulling it off so well. The song flips into rock from bridge to bridge, verse to verse. The chorus hooks you in by the second time they hit it and I'm somewhat embarrassed to say sells me on it. This might be because over the past year I have given Deep Purple's Coverdale years more of a shot.
They get back to heavy on "Kiss of Fire" which has a similar punch to the golden Barlow years of Iced Earth. While it does rock it's not bringing anything new to the table. If this was any of the bands playing at Progpower this year, then this might be acceptable , but the bar is raised a little higher for these guys. Micheal Romeo is still shredding, but do you expect for him to play any other way now? "Charon" is another straight ahead metal anthem that weighs in on the metal around the same cruiser weight as Kamelot, so much so that Allen's melody reminds me of something Roy Khan would have done. Then they back off into Journey territory on "To Hell and Back" which finds the synths overtaking the guitar. Allen's vocals go towards Whitesnake's more radio dominate days. He sounds great but these synths aren't doing much for me as they are brightening things when they should darkening them. This is one of Romeo's better solos, so if that sort of thing turns you on...then take note that he rips into not one but two of them on this one. The second seems like it is way up in the mix.
"In My Darkest Hour" is not a cover of the Megadeth song. It's slower bass driven song that would be heavy as fuck if this was Dream Theater, but since it's not you might wanna have some fries with the cheese. After the solo it's evident that anyone who is really ranting about this album is going to be a guitar player. Romeo does take his place next to all the metal shredding heavy weights here.They take of on a speedier Dream Theater rock n roll path on " Run With the Devil". For what it is the bridge has a decent groove, but the chorus is pretty 80s arena rock. The epic quality of the power ballad "Swansong" will make you want to grab you twenty sided dice and ride into ballad. The bass player is the only one not cock rocking it out here. To Allen's credit he is doing an admirable job carrying on his wayward son. He would of doing be a good replace for Coverdale in a Whitesnake reunion. One issue that does need to be addressed is the fact the lyrics on this album are like something a high school kid who listened to much Kansas might write.Romeo saves the day with his solo, which is tasteful yet shreds your face off. I'm not normally impressed by that sort of thing any more as I have long out grown Yngwie. They take the album out on a prog note rather than power metal on "Legend". I think this side of them is their better half. When the bass player moves up in the mix they are also going in a better direction. It's like heavier Deep Purple which I am fine with. I'll give this album an 8, if you are a fan of some of the cheese sprinkled over this then you might round it up.

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