A Trip to the Underworld
All transportation provided by Symphony X
July 24, 2015, four years, one month, and one week exactly after the release of Iconoclast, Symphony X has followed up with their ninth studio album, Underworld. Like Blind Guardian, Symphony X employs a very meticulous approach to songwriting, being mindful to include literary allusions and crafting an album that is conceptually sound. This is only their third album since The Odyssey in 2002 and, as always, it was worth the wait.
My only hangup is that their 2015 tour will not be hitting my city. My third time seeing them perform will have to wait.
I’ve had a month to let this album completely digest and I’m pretty comfortable in the way that I feel about it. I would say that it is a better album than Iconoclast but I don’t connect with it as well as I did with Paradise Lost and The Odyssey. Instrumentally, it is very good. Michael Romeo shows off his impressive guitar work as always, and Russell Allen delivers on the vocals. The best way I could describe the album’s sound to those familiar to Symphony X is to take Paradise Lost and make it have sex with Iconoclast and then have a beautiful baby called Underworld.
The number three is a recurring motif, being featured in the amount of syllables in Underworld as well as their two lead singles Nevermore and Without You. Nevermore features three references to three songs on The Divine Wings of Tragedy, the band’s third album. It also tells the story of Dante and Orpheus traveling into the Underworld.
The album begins with an epic symphonic approach, a two minute song called Overture with really just prepares you for the album to come. The two singles clock in next and are probably the mellowest efforts in the whole record but are still very listenable. Kiss of Fire, the fourth song is a very aggressive track reminiscent of Iconoclast but offering the heaviest and deepest vocals Allen has ever presented. Charon actually makes you feel like you are ON Charon, soaring guitars and lyrics to accompany it make it a great midway point in the album. To Hell and Back is the hero of the album, a nearly ten minute song that explains the whole reason Dante is on this mission. In My Darkest Hour shares its name with a classic Megadeth song but it is not a cover. The final songs blur together a bit for me, but in a good way. The sound is very cohesive and easy to get lost in.
I’m likely to talk about the new Ghost album next week unless something else comes up that I decide to hit instead. But! The Ghost album IS coming and I will have things to say about it. Also, coming up in the next few weeks (probably) are: an Epica concert evaluation, a look at the more silly acts in music, and a discussion about concept albums. Until next time!