(Review originally posted in Nocturnal Hall Magazine. Link to the original is here: http://www.nocturnalhall.com/reviews/S/symphonyx_underworld_e.html)
Symphony X – Underworld – 8.5/10
SYMPHONY X is one of my all time favorite bands, so a new album by them is always a cause for a celebration. They are famous for blending progressive metal with elements of power metal and classical music. Their last album Iconoclast,which came out four years ago, was a concept album that dealt with the theme of machines taking over. Because of that, the album was more focused on heavy, mechanical sounding riffs, and the classical sounds were put on hold. With Underworld, the band returns to their classical roots while retaining that focus on heavy riffs from Iconoclast. The album is lyrical and musically influenced by stories of Dante’s Inferno and Orpheus in the Underworld. In addition to this, the band explained that their goal for the album was to focus on making a cohesive album instead of focusing on the individual songs. The songs are supposed to work with each other and complement each other. This is seen throughout the album. The album starts with an instrumental titled Overture, reminiscing the listener to albums such as Paradise Lost and The Divine Wings of Tragedy. From there the album moves through a series of great sounding songs that complement each other extremely well. Nevermore has amazing guitar riffs, guitar solos, and a fantastic chorus that is easy to sing along with. Underworld and Kiss of Fire have soaring melody lines and showcase how talented Jason Rullo is as a drummer. The first half of the album contains Without You, which is one of my favorite songs the band has ever done. It feels like a ballad, even though it still has moments of driving riffs. It reminds me of some of my favorite SYMPHONY X songs in the past, like When All is Lost, The Accolade, and Paradise Lost. From there, the album seems to lose momentum for me just a bit. I’m not saying that Charon, To Hell and Back, In My Darkest Hour, and Run with the Devil are bad songs, however they all focus on the heavy side of the band and lose the diversity of the first half. However, they are able to redeem the album with the last two songs, Swan Song and Legend, which gives the album a strong close and a memorable finish. Because of the slight unevenness of the second half of the album, I gave it a lower score than I expected to, but I am still happy with the final product overall. It is nice to see this band continue to push themselves after all these years.