Symphony X, one of the finest progenitors of Prog on the planet, are back and after an excruciating 4 years since the release of Iconoclast the question is, was their time well spent?
Of course it bloody well was! Progressive Metal has always been in safe hands with Symphony X around and Underworld is yet another cast-iron classic from a band who can seemingly do no wrong. Proving once and for all that technically astonishing experimentation can sit side-by-side with Heavy Metal thunder and neck-breaking rhythms, the likes of “Nevermore” and “Kiss Of Fire” with their Thrash riffs, channeled aggression and Russell Allen’s ever-powerful vocals are sure-fire fan favourites in the making.
Even the ballads, so often a damp squib when scattered amongst such high-tempo ground-shakers, capture the imagination. From the epic grandeur of “Without You“‘ to the pretty spectacular “Swansong”, the slower reflective moments compliment the relatively fearsome nature of the majority of the album. Not that melody has been jettisoned in favour of macho posturing of course, this is still Symphony X we’re talking about, but there’s a fever-pitch pace to Underworld that practically screams ‘pay-attention’ in your face; Neo-classical noodling this isn’t, Progressive Metal this is!
Far beyond merely enjoyable, Symphony X are craftsman who have assembled a set of tunes so thrillingly cohesive – yet surprisingly varied – that Album Of The Year lists will have a new name added to them from today! 9/10