First Impressions: Symphony X, Underworld

So first off, for a little background: I first discovered Symphony X with 2011’s Iconoclast and 2007’s Paradise Lost and really enjoyed the heavier sounds of those albums. Last year I picked up 2002’s The Odyssey and really enjoyed it as well, though it was more on the melodic side with a lot more cleaner vocals from Russell Allen. To be honest I did like it, though not quite as much as I did the albums after it. If I remember correctly, it was guitarist Michael Romeo who said the band was going back toward the earlier sounds with the new album (which was released last Friday), and I was pretty curious as to how it’d sound. I really liked the first song that was released from it, “Nevermore,” but as you all know, one song is never really indicative of the full quality of an album…

Holy hell, did they ever hit the sweet spot between those two styles. Just as a few examples, the title track and “Kiss Of Fire” may well be the heaviest songs the band has ever recorded, with Allen roaring like a pissed-off demon on both, and the latter even has blast beats! Killer, just absolutely KILLER. And toward the other end of the spectrum, the closing track “Legend” is a thing of utter beauty, as the guys channel the relatively softer tones of songs like “When All Is Lost” and the title track of Paradise Lost, albeit at a faster tempo, about the speed of Iconoclast’s “Bastards of the Machine.” And “Charon” sounds like it would have probably fit right in on The Odyssey. (Side note: There are precious few things that bring out the inner music snob like listening to a song based on Greek mythology.) And the intricate guitars and synthesizers are present throughout, as are the ethereal choral sounds. I could probably write a freaking book on this album, but here’s what it all boils down to:

Classic modern metal, classic Symphony X, quite possibly a desert-island album.

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