Underworld

SKU: 3228-2
Label:
Nuclear Blast
Category:
Power Metal
Add to wishlist 

Michael Romeo doesn't work quickly.  The man takes his time and a new Symphony X album is ready when its been honed to perfection.  Underworld is the first new album in four years.  To get to the point its ridiculously great.  Up through V, the band were the modern agents of neoclassical/symphonic metal.  With The Odyssey the band took a left turn with Russell Allen's vocals being more agressive and a pervasive overall crunchiness, heaviness to the sound.  Perhaps a bit less symphonic sounding.  With Underworld fans of the "old style" will smile once again.  The band has found a way to balance both sides of their sound.  Its heavy but extremely melodic.  Russell's vocals are spot on and Mr. Romeo's solos have an organic flow that will sweep you through the tune.  Its a beautiful marriage of styles - not too much of either direction that the band has exhibited in the past.  Toss in a theme built around Dante's Inferno and you've totally sucked me back in to the fold.  BUY OR DIE!

"A lot has happened with New Jersey-based progressive metal band SYMPHONY X since the Iconoclast album was released four years ago. Singer ‘Sir’ Russell Allen recorded and toured behind several releases with ADRENALINE MOB, toured with TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA and recorded the album The Great Divide with ALLEN-LANDE. Bassist Mike Lepond toured with HELSTAR and released his excellent solo album under the name SILENT ASSASSINS. Keyboardist Michael Pinnella released a solo album and guitarist Michael Romeo made guest appearances on some albums. Drummer Jason Rullo battled and successfully recovered from heart failure in 2013.

Four years later, SYMPHONY X delivers another fantastic album, the band sounding just as powerful as Iconoclast, and amazingly never missing a beat. Titled Underworld, it is sort of a concept album, loosely based on Dante’s epic poem Inferno. Dante’s Inferno is not a totally original topic in the metal world; ICED EARTH featured an epic song based on it on their 1995 album Burnt Offerings and SEPULTURA wrote a concept album based on it with 2006’s Dante XXI, while SYMPHONY X themselves included references to it on their 1997 album The Divine Wings Of Tragedy. Several other metal bands have also been influenced by the poem.

SYMPHONY X do not follow the tale word for word, but use it more as an inspiration. Michael Romeo is quoted as saying that the album has a theme of “going to hell and back for something or someone you care about.” He also said that this album is more about “the song” instead of the album as a whole, allowing it to flow better from song to song. This doesn’t mean every song is an attempt at a single. Romeo’s intent when writing songs for Underworld was for people to be able to take in the whole album in one listening. (The total album length is just over an hour, compared to Iconoclast’s two discs that were around 83 minutes).

To be honest, the last two SYMPHONY X albums, 2007’s Paradise Lost and 2011’s Iconoclast were my favorite albums released by the band so far. I refer to them as the “angry” SYMPHONY X, mainly due to Russell Allen’s vocal delivery and the aggressive music on those particular albums. So, I waited to see if we would get a third album in this same vein from SYMPHONY X. The songs on Underworld seem to alternate between prog and aggression, but for the most part, the album is not as “angry” as Iconoclast. The album strikes a perfect balance between prog and power. Some songs are aggressive without being “angry”. There are definitely more classic SYMPHONY X elements here than on recent releases.

The album is much more accessible than previous albums. The songs overall are shorter (most clocking in at around the 5-6 minute mark), and more to the point than on previous albums. For example, “Kiss Of Fire” is one of the best tracks I’ve ever heard by SYMPHONY X. It immediately became a favorite of mine on this album, with the verse, “Bring down the hammer, with serious anger – It’s me against the world!” section and the chorus becoming some of my favorite moments. This song probably represents the album to me more than any other, but the album is filled with classics, such as opener “Nevermore”, a ferocious track that is aggressive in the verses, while the chorus is more melody-driven. The title track follows, with many twists, turns and speed sections. “Without You” is a standout track. With its guarded delivery by Allen and acoustic guitar flowing in the background, it is probably the mellowest moment on Underworld, but that’s not a bad thing. The chorus is the focus of the track, with Allen performing some of his best work. The song probably has the most potential as a single. Another solid track, “Charon”, named for the ferry boatman of the underworld, follows. This track has a middle-eastern flavor to it.

The longest track on the album (9:24 in length) follows, the excellent “To Hell And Back”. This song has so many great parts, it’s hard to pick a particular favorite, possibly Allen’s soaring vocal on the chorus or the “on and on and on / no quarter asked, no quarter given” section. “In My Darkest Hour” follows and is another favorite of mine, featuring speed riffing parts, mixed with a melodic chorus. Allen really shines on this song. “Run With The Devil” is even more up-tempo and another one of the more accessible songs due to the chorus. “Swan Song” finds keyboardist Pinnella taking the bulk of the spotlight with his piano flourishes. The album closes with the excellent “Legend”. Allen’s aggressive pre-chorus vocals and melodic chorus vocals make this an instant classic.

I believe the playing on Underworld is at another level for the band. Lepond’s bass work is spectacular throughout and Jason Rullo makes a real statement with his drum performance. Fantastic work from keyboardist Michael Pinnella and of course guitarist Michael Romeo’s amazing riffs and solos are worth the price alone. But you get more, don’t you? You get one of the best singers in metal, Sir Russell Allen, making yet another classic album even better with his voice.

The album’s exquisite cover artwork (once again by illustrator Warren Flanagan) features the return of the SYMPHONY X masks, around which are eight symbols that represent the circles of hell: limbo, lust, gluttony, greed, anger, heresy, violence, and fraud. The symbol for treachery, the ninth circle, is underneath the masks, and hopefully will be revealed in full inside the album packaging.

Underworld is a great album, which grew on me the more I listened to it. SYMPHONY X are masters of American prog metal, and have been for quite some time. Underworld further cements that reputation, and will undoubtedly please fans of all eras of the band." - KNAC.com

 

There are no review yet. Be the first!

Product Review

You must login or register to post reviews.
Laser Pic

customers also bought

SEE ALL
  • The Japanese East Wind label was active in the 70s and into the early 80s.  This was a jazz label that focused on Japanese artists but also covered many popular US players.  While not as overtly audiophile as Three Blind Mice, the East Wind label was always noted for immaculate reference quality production.Universal Japan has released 72 titles from the East Wind catalog in extremely limited editions.  We've cherry picked those titles that we think are of interest to our customer base.Terumasa Hino is the legendary Japanese trumpet player who is still going strong today.  He has played around the world and played with the best.  Unfortunately he's probably best known in Japan.  When he launched his career in the late 60s he was playing pretty traditional straight ahead jazz.  Once he struck out with his own ensembles his music became more focused on spiritual jazz, frequently plugging in and crossing over into fusion.  Hogiuta was recorded in NY in 1976 and is one of the all time great kosmigroov albums.  The personnel consists of Terumasa Hino ( trumpet, flugel horn, percussion, voice), Cecil McBee (acoustic bass, voice), Motohiko Hino (drums, percussion, voice), M'tume (percussion, voice).  This album is totally cosmic.  It kicks off with the intense side long title piece that features McBee and the percussionists locking into a groove while Hino does his Miles-like best and its pretty damn great.  The album has stellar production.  If your system is set up right you will hear a deep soundstage with precise placement of intruments.  Cool panning effects with throw voices all around.  An incredible spacious recording that will really show off your system.  This is one of those albums that demands you fire up the vaporizer and dim the lights.  Hino had many magnificent albums through out his career but for my personal taste this is the one.  BUY OR DIE!
    $16.00
  • The return of Fates Warning's original vocalist manifested in this 27 minute EP. Only two epic tracks of progressive metal features an incredible backing band: Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater), Jim Matheos (Fates Warning), Joey Vera (Fates Warning).
    $8.00
  • "Danish rockers Volbeat have always been extremely popular in their home country, and with each album they’ve gained more momentum and fans. However, 2010‘s ‘Beyond Hell/Above Heaven’ was their true breakthrough in North America, spawning hit singles such as ‘Heaven nor Hell’ and ‘A Warrior’s Call,’ which both topped the Billboard Active Rock chart.For Volbeat’s follow-up disc, Rob Caggiano was brought aboard to produce ‘Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies.’ The collaboration went so well that Caggiano ended up joining Volbeat as their permanent lead guitarist shortly after exiting Anthrax.Anticipation has been high for ‘Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies,’ and Volbeat deliver. Their sound has always drawn on many different influences, from classic rock to punk to metal to rockabilly. Those influences and more are evident on this album, perhaps their most diverse to-date.After the acoustic western-tinged intro “Let’s Shake Some Dust,” the album kicks off with the ultra-catchy ‘Pearl Hart.’ The rock charts are packed with sound-alike bands that are good, but lack a unique identity. That’s not a problem with Volbeat. In addition to their diverse influences, singer Michael Poulsen’s voice is very distinctive.Volbeat have the ability to morph from accessible rock to heavy but melodic metal like ‘Dead But Rising’ without missing a beat. They may not be ‘metal enough’ for some fans that like their music more extreme, but they bring aboard a guest singer who is undeniably metal. The legendary King Diamond lends his world-class pipes to ‘Room 24.’The song has heavy riffs, creepy female backing vocals and plenty of vocal acrobatics from King Diamond. Poulsen’s melodic singing contrasts nicely with Diamond’s falsetto. King isn’t the only guest on the album. Sarah Blackwood from the Canadian band Walk off the Earth duets with Poulsen on ‘Lonesome Rider,’ which has some steel guitar and a rockabilly vibe.There’s a cover song on the album as well. Volbeat does ‘My Body,’ originally recorded by Young the Giant on their 2010 self-titled album. The track did well on both the Alternative and Rock charts, and many will recognize it.‘Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies’ has something for fans of numerous genres. It includes a Western theme with a little twang, lots of radio-friendly cuts, harder edged tracks, the aforementioned guest vocalists and a lot of variety. It’s an impressive effort that’s both credible and commercial." - Loudwire
    $12.00
  • ""It is a rare thing these days for a post-metal band to break the mold. So many bands play sludgy, lurching, epic metal that it can be hard to tell what band is trying to sound like Isis this time. This brings me to the breath of fresh air that is Secrets of the Sky.The Oakland based sextet takes what is a great but tired genre and adds a dash of black metal and a bit of prog. Imagine if you tossed Neurosis, more recent Immortal, and Porcupine Tree into a blender. Sounds like a fucked up mix, right? It's an awesome fucked up mix though.The Sail Black Waters consists of 4 tracks that are rooted in sludge, that manage to take twists and turns throughout it's all-too-short forty-one minute run-time. There are moments of dreamy soundscapes, harmonized clean vocals, and crescendos aplenty.A band they bring to mind is the Australian black-metal-with-a-violin band Ne Obliviscaris. They don't necessarily sound alike, especially because Secrets of the Skysimple aren't playing as fast, but their progressions are quite similar. Also, Secrets happen to employ a violin as one of the several talents of vocalist Garett Gazay. Their use of it is much more subtle than Ne Obliviscaris to the point where it becomes a game listening for it.In short, a phenomenal debut." - Metal Injection
    $14.00
  • Remastered edition with 2 bonus tracks."Easily one of the most important heavy metal albums ever released, Stained Class marks the peak of Judas Priest's influence, setting the sonic template for the New Wave of British Heavy Metal more than any other single recording. This is the point where Priest put it all together, embracing their identity as the heaviest band on the planet and taking the genre to new heights of power, speed, musicality, and malevolence. Not until Painkiller would the band again be this single-minded in its focus on pure heavy metal. Their blues-rock roots have been virtually obliterated; largely gone, too, are the softer textures and gothic ballads of albums past. The lone exception is the morbid masterpiece "Beyond the Realms of Death," on which the band finally finds a way to integrate the depressive balladry of songs like "Epitaph" and "Last Rose of Summer" into their metal side. Starting out with quiet, mournful verses, the song's chorus is ripped open by a blazing guitar riff as Rob Halford shrieks about leaving the world behind, a dramatic climax that sounds like a definite blueprint for Metallica's "Fade to Black." Yet it wasn't this song that inspired the ridiculous 1989-1990 court case involving the suicide pact of two Nevada teenagers; that honor goes to the Spooky Tooth cover "Better by You, Better Than Me" (penned by none other than the "Dream Weaver" himself, Gary Wright), on which the band allegedly embedded the subliminal backwards-recorded message "Do it." Astounding implausibility aside (as the band pointed out, why encourage the suicides of fans who spend money?), it isn't hard to see why Stained Class might invite such hysterical projections. On balance, it's the darkest lyrical work of the band's career, thematically obsessed with death, violence, and conquest. That's not to say it's always approving. Sure, there are battle cries like "White Heat, Red Hot," horrific nightmares like "Saints in Hell," and elements of the fantastic in the alien monsters of "Invader" and stone classic opener "Exciter." But the band stays philosophical just as often as not. The twisting, turning title track adopts the biblical view of man as a hopeless, fallen creature preyed upon by his baser instincts; "Savage" foreshadows Iron Maiden's "Run to the Hills" in depicting violent colonizers as the real savages; and closer "Heroes End" laments the many legends born from untimely deaths. So in the end, what really cements the celebrated morbidity of Stained Class is the sinister atmosphere created by the music itself. Never before had heavy metal sounded so viciously aggressive, and never before had that been combined with such impeccable chops. Seemingly at will, Tipton and Downing spit out brilliant riffs that cut with knife-like precision, usually several per song. This means that there's a lot to take in on Stained Class, but if there's nothing here as immediate as the band's later hits, there's also a tremendous amount that reveals itself only with repeated listens. While the album's overall complexity is unrivalled in the band's catalog, the songs still pack an enormous visceral impact; the tempos have often been jacked up to punk-level speed, and unlike albums past, there's no respite from the all-out adrenaline rush. Heavy metal had always dealt in extremes -- both sonically and emotionally -- but here was a fresh, vital new way to go about it. It's impossible to overstate the impact that Stained Class had on virtually all of the heavy metal that followed it, from the NWOBHM through thrash and speed metal onward, and it remains Judas Priest's greatest achievement." - All Music Guide
    $5.00
  • "‘Les Fleurs du Mal’ is a conceptual album by Swedish band THERION that features only French lyrics and consists of cover versions of old French pop songs from 60-70s. THERION celebrates by "a special art project", headlining by the material, its 25 anniversary. It was also said that the album is available only during the tour and from THERION online store; it is sponsored by the only founding member, Christofer Johnsson. But you can buy it i.e. on Amazon as well. I am not going to go at length comparing THERION old and new and trying to rationalise things. The reason is simple, as this album was actually the first that caught my full attention. I start from the cover: it's full of topless females. Obviously, Charles Baudelaire's legacy is quite reminiscent there. The cover is made of a quite rich artwork of Saturno Butto, themed mainly erotic and varying from matte painting to charcoal sketches.Most of the songs here are quite short, yet powerful. Why these songs? I have at hand some lengthy explanations from the press kit, but in fact it boils to one single thing: the overall direction of French songs that are dark and telling some quite grim stories. Yet we all aware of a largely poetic language and melodic music background of French culture. Christofer has a great, fluent knowledge of musical styles and approaches, so he claims influences from King Diamond, Candlemass to folk music and ABBA. The album is beating with energy, in carries you along with its set of 15 songs performed mainly by the lead opera singer, soprano Lori Lewis.Of course I was curious about how exactly the original songs were altered. It's too much of effort to get past all these tracks, so I picked few favourites. ‘Mon amour, mon ami’ by Marie Laforet is a playful pop song, performed originally in circus-like up-tempo, but THERION specialists worked closely in order bring about the "inner darkness", toned down tempo and timbre and added traditionally "darker" music instruments such as organ - so song became indeed heavier and more minor, yet more powerful and strong. ‘Polichinelle’, performed with a cute teenage girl's voice by France Gall, is initially a pretty love ballad that relates to a Commedia dell 'arte character (note that comedian masks are worn by the naked ladies on the album booklet. (Thumbs up for the throughout conceptual work!) THERION ended up with an operetta rendering of the song, making of it somewhat of an opera house hymn, this type of sound you would expect from contemporary French musicals. Despite being one of the most experimental pieces on the album, it would be, probably, one of the most noticeable tracks.Finally, Victoire Scott's ‘Une fleur dans le coeur’ - Christofer did not like very much a feature you can hear in original, the honky-tonk (tuned-off) piano that he only describes as "dreadful". Instead, THERION interpretation is deeply lyrical, with plenty of acoustic guitar and strong soprano of Lori multiplied by the riffs you might expect from Jann Tiersen, metal additions and whole lot of different styles changing one to another. One drawback that I see is that the vocal style often remains of the same across album, so if you listen to 15 songs in a row, you might be tired a bit with the similar style. Yet the band paid enough attention to insert pleasant breaks by quest vocalists. The album sounds sound, fresh, and original and there is additional fun to compare originals to the covers." - Reflections Of Darkness
    $11.00
  • "Hard to believe it has been four years since the last Iron Savior record. In that time I almost thought we'd never hear anything from Piet and co again. Boy am I glad they're back, and with the Condition Red line-up to boot. While I felt Megatropolis was a slight musical misfire, The Landing sees the band firing on all cylinders again.It should be no surprise that this album sounds quite a bit like Condition Red in places, with a hefty kick of Unification and Battering Ram for good measure. This is pure unadulterated German power metal played by one of the granddaddies of the genre, Piet Sielck is the man, and he displays his mastery of this style all over The Landing. Kicking off with a mid-paced cruncher armed with sublime hooks, and a majestic chorus, "The Landing" is a great start to the show. However it is in "Starlight" that the album really kicks off. I was overcome with joy when I first heard this song. Iron Savior at their best: blazing riffs, double kicking, and a massive chorus; this track could have be long lost from the Unification recordings.Throughout The Landing Iron Savior continue to assert their authority; everything from production to performance is nothing short of excellent – which should be expected of these masters. The guitar tone is concrete middle ground between the more compressed tone of Battering Ram and the natural feel of Condition Red. They album ticks all the boxes that need ticking in an Iron Savior record, "March of Doom" nails the heavy power metal track, with badass riffs and the finest pre-chorus of the album. "Heavy Metal Never Dies" takes the "Warrior" approach and is a great fist pumper, and coupled with "R.U. Ready" tick of the worship of heavy metal approach. Finally we have the quality "Before the Pain" which ticks off the ballad.All in all I believe The Landing is a complete and utter success, vastly preferable to the latest releases from stalwarts Gamma Ray and Stormwarrior. Highly recommended to all power metal fans, this is without a doubt one of the finest releases this year. While it doesn't reinvent – or innovate for that matter, that isn't important as Iron Savior were never about that. Recommended." - Metal Crypt
    $15.00
  • Second album from this California based prog metal band with ties to Redemption. The Tragedy Of Innocence is a far more mature and developed release than their debut. It's a conceptual work dealing with a very heavy subject - Valerie Quirarte (wife of drummer Chris) and her experience with child abuse. The music is a reflection of the story - its darker and more intense. All in all Prymary are a progmetal band. You can expect some serious complex arrangements and stand out playing. Kudos to the band for tackling a difficult subject and also jumping up to the next level musically. Recommended.
    $2.00
  • Mini gatefold lp sleeve recreating the orignal release from these brilliant prog one hit wonders.
    $19.00
  • Legit reissue of the only album this Texas based fusion band recorded. Electromagnets are most notable for their guitarist, Eric Johnson, who became kind of famous. Quite brilliant and essential for any fans who digs a head on musical collision between The Dregs and Mahavishnu Orchestra. Highly recommended.
    $9.00
  • When it comes to Dream Theater influenced prog metal no one does it like the Italians. Zen, Scenario, Mystere De Notre Dame, Solid Vision...the list goes on and on. Add Daedalus to the list as well. Like most of these bands mentioned there is a common flaw - lets call it a lapse of originality and a vocalist with good range but an accent. But all of these bands transcend these deficiencies with great chops and excellent compositions. Basically what I'm saying is that if you are a fan of the genre you are going to love this disc...just keep an eye out the window for the Originality Police. This is actually the second album for this band from Genoa. They went first class all the way - Roland Grapow mixed it and Rob Tyrant contributed some guest vocals. Noted illustrator Mark Wilkinson did the artwork. Highly recommended.
    $3.00
  • Remastered soundtrack to the George Romero gorefest w/alternate takes and one unreleased track.
    $21.00
  • "Talking Heads found a way to open up the dense textures of the music they had developed with Brian Eno on their two previous studio albums for Speaking in Tongues, and were rewarded with their most popular album yet. Ten backup singers and musicians accompanied the original quartet, but somehow the sound was more spacious, and the music admitted aspects of gospel, notably in the call-and-response of "Slippery People," and John Lee Hooker-style blues, on "Swamp." As usual, David Byrne determinedly sang and chanted impressionistic, nonlinear lyrics, sometimes by mix-and-matching clichés ("No visible means of support and you have not seen nothin' yet," he declared on "Burning Down the House," the Heads' first Top Ten hit), and the songs' very lack of clear meaning was itself a lyrical subject. "Still don't make no sense," Byrne admitted in "Making Flippy Floppy," but by the next song, "Girlfriend Is Better," that had become an order -- "Stop making sense," he chanted over and over. Some of his charming goofiness had returned since the overly serious Remain in Light and Fear of Music, however, and the accompanying music, filled with odd percussive and synthesizer sounds, could be unusually light and bouncy. The album closer, "This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)," even sounded hopeful. Well, sort of. Despite their formal power, Talking Heads' preceding two albums seemed to have painted them into a corner, which may be why it took them three years to craft a follow-up, but on Speaking in Tongues, they found an open window and flew out of it." - Allmusic Guide
    $6.00
  • 30th Anniversary remastered edition.
    $15.00