Symphony X, Iconoclast, 2011
Being the usual late me, I still thought it was worthwhile spending some words on this band and release. After all, in my humble opinion progressive metal hardly gets better than made by this outfit. Why you ask? Well, then you probably don´t know the band, it´s members or it´s music. So let me explain:
Singer Russel Allen is so good, Ayreon mastermind Arjen Lucassen refers to him as Sir Russel Allen. Whether it is raw, low, high, ferocious or emotional, this guy pulls it off in a style and class that is way beyond reach for most of us mere mortals. Then we have Michael Romeo. There is shredding and there is shredding, and I don´t know how many hours he put into mastering the six strings, but he is one mean dude on the guitar. And still knows when to kick things back and just open up with a simple melody. Michael Pinella on keyboards is a match to the virtuosity of the others, and has no problem soloing either. Michael Lepond on bass and Jason Rullo on drums form the perfect tandem to steer this band into the right direction without ever losing track. Both are excellent at their game as well. Well as we all know there are many excelling players out there, but what makes this band special to me, are the songs, and especially the way they incorporate the backing vocals. Between all that technical stuff, all songs are carried by great melodies and harmonies! Also they have a keen ear for arrangements and avoid firing on all six all of the time. Add to that the often majestic orchestrations and the winning formula is in display.
So yes, sometimes a lot is happening, but rest assured that these songs are out to get you. And they will…