Album Review: Symphony X – Underworld
23rd July 2015, 09:48
Posted by Chris

The progressive maestros known as Symphony X have returned, and we see what brilliance they can offer us this time around on their new record, ‘Underworld’…


01. Overture
02. Nevermore
03. Underworld
04. Without You
05. Kiss Of Fire
06. Charon
07. Hell And Back
08. In My Darkest Hour
09. Run With The Devil
10. Swansong
11. Legend

Length: 63:57
Label: Nuclear Blast
Release date: 24th July 2015

By now it’s been pretty established that it is very difficult for Symphony X to put a foot wrong. They have built a brilliant formula of technical and melodic guitar work, razor sharp harmonies and atmospheric keyboards sown together with punishing drums and a bass that goes rouge at exactly the right times. One does not even need to argue any more that the band are comfortably sitting on the top tier of the progressive metal chain, and are looked up to by so many other bands. With the new album ‘Underworld‘, we automatically expect something spectacular.

Having to pit a record against the likes of the previous godly works such as ‘The Divine Wings of Tragedy‘ and ‘The Odyssey‘ is a tough job, but the answer to whether ‘Underworld‘ matches the artistic and intrinsic value of the previous efforts is what we are all expecting, it most certainly does. The intro of ‘Overture‘ sets the theme and atmosphere of the album, and two minutes later we are listening to Michael Romeo do what he does best – churning out a neck-wrenching riff to the beat of ‘Nevermore‘.

The question to ask with Symphony X is what differs this album from the rest of them? While there is little musical experimentation in ‘Underworld‘ it has been built around the lyrical theme of the ‘Inferno’ and ‘Orpheus and the Underworld’. With lyrics pertaining to those stories the music is resonated in the same fashion, and brings us a darker and more aggressive atmosphere than any other album before. The track ‘Kiss of Fire‘ provides a perfect example of these feats with an opening of augmented dark chords, choirs and blast beats that could be mistaken for a black metal song, and suddenly progresses into a verse Bay Area thrash style riffing.

The darkness and aggressive atmosphere of the music dominates much of ‘Underworld‘, but other elements of Symphony X past are not forgotten. The band have forged a brilliant ballad ‘Without You‘ making full use of Russell Allen’s vocal range and the calmer acoustic work, and the standout track on the album ‘To Hell and Back‘ that epitomises the progressive brilliance that Symphony X are, and provides a flowing blend of melody and aggression with a memorable chorus.

We could go on and explain why every track on ‘Underworld’ has the merit of excellence, but the finer point is that Symphony X have yet again written a sublime album and have provided another influential listening experience that can be enjoyed by all metalheads and anyone that respects excellent musicianship.

Yet another outstanding effort by Symphony X. Underworld is an appeasement of metal fans stretching many subgenres, while managing to keep the hardcore progressive fans’ thumbs in the air.