Symphony X Announces New Album Underworld, Slated for Release in July, and Fall Tour with Overkill!
New Jersey’s progressive metal masters SYMPHONY X ~ Michael Romeo, guitar, Russell Allen, vocals, Michael Pinnella, keyboards, Michael LePond, bass guitar, Jason Rullo, drums ~ are set to release their ninth studio album, Underworld, on July 24th via Nuclear Blast Records.
SYMPHONY X have triumphed in an era cursed with diminishing attention spans, successfully creating a panoramic “album rock” experience that has earned them a loyal and passionate following. “This new one is about the song, really crafting each one on its own, to be as strong as it could be,” says Michael Romeo, the band’s chief writer and proprietor of The Dungeon, the tricked-out studio in which the album was crafted, newly equipped with the latest in technology required to execute the band’s famous symphonic and orchestrated touches.
“Musically, Underworld has things reminiscent of the bands previous albums but this one definitely has its own individuality,” Michael continues. “Every element added was in service of the song, so the album flows and becomes a total listening experience from start to finish. Every song is to-the-point and fine-tuned, with us paying a lot of attention to the hooks, voices, riffs, and keeping the interest and the energy high for the entire record. It is heavy and aggressive as fuck when it needs to be, yet soaring and emotional at other times. I think the balance is just right. It had to have all the elements of what we normally would do, just tweaked up a notch and really fine-tuned. You know, industry people have talked about how we’ll never see a complete album again, and that idea. I wanted to defend the reputation of the album, and really try to make Underworld worth listening to as a whole record. It’s what I love about great individual songs, but still an album experience. I don’t want to sound like I’m preaching, but it was a point we wanted to make. It was about the progression of the whole record. It speeds up here and then it dips down here. It all makes sense together, it all works together and it all flows together.”
Although Underworld is not a concept album, Michael explains that “…like the last couple of records, there’s a theme that carries through, without it being storytelling. We try to find something to key in on and get the juices flowing, and here the goal was to find something a little dark but with emotional content. I started looking at Dante, and Orpheus in the underworld, where he’s going to go to Hades or hell to save this girl. So there’s the theme of going to hell and back for something or someone you care about.” Heavily inspired by the Italian poet Dante Alighieri, Underworld draws on the themes from Divine Comedy, most notably those in the Inferno section. As homage to Dante’s use of the number 3 and its multiples, the band has used this numerical motif in their music either in a lyrical or melodic context. The first song on the album is a three syllable, three note melodic phrase, and within the verses there are three references to three songs from the band’s third album, The Divine Wings Of Tragedy. “There’s cool shit like this all over the record,” Michael shares with understandable pride.
For Underworld’s cover art, SYMPHONY X went with their established illustrator Warren Flanagan (Watchmen, The Incredible Hulk, 2012), who also tapped into the “secret knowledge” vibe with which Michael and band had infused the record. “Warren went with the masks, similar to the first record,” explains Romeo. “But when I discussed with him Dante and the underworld, he did his own research and designed a little symbol for each of the nine circles of hell. So there are these little geometric symbols that mean something. That’s just what he does. He gets in there and finds these things that maybe no one really besides us knows what it means and yet it has meaning.”
- Without You
- Kiss Of Fire
- Hell And Back
- In My Darkest Hour
- Run With The Devil