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4.26 | 40 ratings | 5 reviews
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Album · 2015


1. Overture (2:13)
2. Nevermore (5:28)
3. Underworld (5:48)
4. Without You (5:51)
5. Kiss of Fire (5:09)
6. Charon (6:06)
7. Hell and Back (9:23)
8. In My Darkest Hour (4:22)
9. Run with the Devil (5:38)
10. Swansong (7:29)
11. Legend (6:29)

Total Time 63:56


- Russell Allen / Vocals
- Michael Romeo / Guitars
- Mike LePond / Bass
- Michael Pinnella / Keyboards
- Jason Rullo / Drums

About this release

Release Date: July 24th, 2015
Label: Nuclear Blast Records

Mixed and mastered at Fascination Street.

Thanks to DippoMagoo for the addition and UMUR, adg211288, diamondblack for the updates


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I'd always found that consistency was a bit of a weak point for Symphony X, with only V: the New Mythology Suite being much of a keeper among their early work. Then Iconoclast made a very positive impression on me, and now I actually think Underworld has all their previous work beat, offering a true classic of their power-prog metal style. The band have developed a really nuanced sense of when to be a bit more restrained and when to let forth with full force, having learned that cranking things up to 11 for the entire album isn't always the best way - sometimes your assaults hit harder when you give people a bit of breathing space between them.

Whilst Iconoclast was fantastically heavy and Underworld is no slouch in that department, I sense some of their prog inclinations returning to the foreground this time, and I'd be really interested to see where their sound evolves next. To my ears, at least, Symphony X seem to have hit the most consistently high levels of quality they have achieved over their entire career, and I sincerely hope they can keep it up.
Symphony X - Underworld

"Underworld" is the ninth studio album by progressive/power metal band Symphony X. Ever since 2007's "Paradise Lost", Symphony X has gotten increasingly heavier from album to album. Their last album "Iconoclast" was a heavy slab of crushing metal, and they continue to go further with the prog/US power/thrash/groove hybrid that they have developed with a few more things added in.

The albums begins with a symphonic opening appropriately titled 'Overture', before the entrance of 'Nevermore' which is a great US power metal song. The songs range from melodic power-oriented songs like the aforementioned song and 'Charon', power ballads like 'Without You' and 'Swansong', full-on power-thrash/groove songs like 'Kiss of Fire', and various combinations of styles. The epic 'To Hell and Back' is a perfect example of the combination of all these sounds. Also, what other power metal albums can you think of that have death metal elements? Just take a listen to some of the riffing on the title track and 'Kiss of Fire', it sounds straight out of an old school death metal album.

'In My Darkest Hour', 'Charon', and 'Kiss of Fire' are probably my favorites on the album, the latter easily being my favorite Symphony X song. Russell Allen's vocals are amazing, on this one song he goes from great melodic vocals to gruff groove-metal vocals to powerful screams. This combined with Michael Romero's crushing grooves getting pounded into your skull makes this one addicting head-banging listen. 'Charon' has a really nice middle-eastern sound to it, reminding me of a cross between the bands Kamelot and Ra. Allen's vocals and Romero's riffs really shine on 'In My Darkest Hour', it's hard for the chorus to not get stuck in my head. While the vocals and riffs are what stands out the most to me on the album, the piano on 'Swansong' is very beautiful and certainly deserves a mention. As does the bass that opens the awesome groovy riffs on 'Legend'.

Overall, if you're looking for a prog/power metal album with a great blend of metal styles then you couldn't do much better than this album. An eclectic and incredibly addicting album, this is certainly one of the best 2015 albums I've heard. Hope you found this review helpful.

Feel free to comment!
"Underworld" is the 9th full-length studio album by US, New Jersey based progressive power metal act Symphony X. The album was released through Nuclear Blast Records in July 2015. It´s the successor to "Iconoclast" from 2011. The four years between albums have been spend touring and writing the new album, but also with the bandmembers doing other projects. Lead vocalist Russel Allen has been busy with Adrenaline Mob, the Allen - Lande project, and with Level 10, bassist Mike LePond released a solo album in 2014 where guitarist Michael Romeo was also involved, and keyboard player Michael Pinnella also released a solo album in 2014.

Stylistically the material on "Underworld" pretty much continues down the darker and more heavy road which was initiated on "Paradise Lost (2007)" and which was continued on "Iconoclast (2011)". While the music is undoubtedly US power metal (with progressive leanings, or the other way around if you prefer), Symphony X is among the heaviest and at times even brutal acts in the genre. Guitarist Michael Romeo churns out one catchy groove laden and crushingly heavy riff after another and often crosses the border into thrash/groove metal- and even death metal territory. If that description scared away a couple of power metal listeners, don´t worry too much, the music is still loaded with epic guitar themes and keyboards, lightning fast melodic guitar/keyboard solos, anthemic choruses, and a rhythm section who can play both "regular" fast- and mid-paced beats, and more varied progressive inclined dittos.

It´s just generally much heavier than what you usually hear in the genre. "Kiss of Fire" and the title track are especially heavy. A melodic power ballad track like "Without You" pulls in the other direction, and "Underworld" is overall a pretty varied album (also including a mini-epic in "Hell and Back"), which successfully showcases the diversity of Symphony X. Highlights are to my ears "Nevermore", the title track, "Without You", "Kiss of Fire", and album closer "Legend". I like "Run with the Devil" too, but it´s mostly because it´s a bit of a different sounding Symphony X track.

The musicianship is as usual on a very high level. Michael Romeo deserves a mention for his many creative riffs and solos, and Russel Allen is a powerhouse. The type of singer that most acts would kill to have in their lineup. He has a strong voice and a commanding delivery, able to sing both gruff, and higher pitched and melodic. A very skilled and versatile singer that one. The rest of the band members are of course very well playing too, their performances just don´t stand out as much as the performances by the two gentlemen mentioned above.

"Underworld" is packed in a powerful, detailed, and professional sounding production, which brings out the best in the music, and upon conclusion it´s another strong album release by Symphony X. It´s so an so with the innovation and development of the band´s sound, so it´s not a revolutionary release taking their full discography into consideration, but it´s a high quality release through and through and both fans and more casual listeners should be able to enjoy this one. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.
When Symphony X released Paradise Lost in 2007 it marked a shift in direction with the metal elements taking precedence over the prog making it their heaviest to date. Iconoclast, released in 2011 marked an even bigger shift in that direction. Four years later they have now released their ninth studio album Underworld and it’s a killer!

Where does it fit in with past releases then? While it sits more comfortably with the last two albums than anything before – this really kicks ass! - it marks a return to more emphasis on the melodies. This is particularly noticeable with Russell Allen’s vocals who went for a harsher style of singing on the last two albums. He does that here too at times but they’ve clearly put a lot of effort into giving much of the material here strong vocal hooks. As usual Allen’s vocals are stunning – if there’s a better metal vocalist out there at the moment I’ve not heard him. Don’t be led into thinking they’ve gone soft though, this is a very heavy album – just listen to Kiss Of Fire for proof with some stunning instrumental interplay and even some blastbeats from drummer Jason Rullo who never fails to impress me with his incredible technique. Of course the rest of the band live up to the high standards they’ve previously set themselves too. There are times however, like on Swansong where they lay back a bit and this could fit comfortably on some of their earlier albums like V.

This album is stunning from start to finish making picking favourite tracks futile. Back in 2011 I rated Iconoclast as their best yet, in truth Paradise Lost was just as good but Underworld is the equal of both of them making a trilogy of albums the equal of any metal band. Album of the year? Could well be.
The Angry Scotsman
The New Jersey Prog Metal Masters are back with their newest album "Underworld"

The album is an in between Paradise Lost and Iconoclast. It is clearly grounded in the bands new style: heavy and intense, (there are even a few blast beats thrown in one part!) darker, less progressive and less shred riffing/neoclassical insanity of their old days...however "Underworld" drifts a little more towards the style of "Paradise Lost" rather than "Iconoclast" meaning this album is a little more progressive, features more keyboard, less "hardcore" vocals and is just more varied in style.

While I am a fan of Iconoclast, I greatly appreciate the drift away from there and back to a more classic sound. Don't misunderstand, this is firmly within the band's new sound and you should not expect The Odyssey or V or Divine Wings here, but there are plenty of classic Symphony X riffs, melodies, sounds and staples to please any fan.

Style aside, all the musicianship is superb, as is to be expected, the songwriting tight and well composed, the audio quality is great and I particularly love the sound of the bass. The songwriting of Symphony X is what always struck me, their ability to create songs with great flow, surprise, technicality and musicianship but without wasting any of our time, and they have done so yet again. There are still moments that surprise you, and all the instruments, while getting to showcase the skill of the musicians, work together.

"Underworld" is not a perfect album, there are some weak moments, and there is nothing here really unexpected, but it's another great output that continues to walk the line of pleasing fans and originality, technicality and musician ship, heaviness and progressiveness, and they walk the line superbly. The vocals of Russell Allen are brilliant as always, displaying a great range, there are riffs galore, and Jason Rullo, (one of my all time favorite drummers) continues to increasingly show off his drumming prowess. Michael Romeo still solos like the best of them, and the composition is a bit more progressive than Iconoclast, with some truly beautiful movements sprinkled throughout.

Standout tracks are: Without You, Kiss of Fire and Legend.

Symphony X is one of the greatest metal bands of their time, and continue to prove it with yet another strong output. "Underworld" should be a great addition for Symphony X fans, and please prog metal fans. Excellent album.


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