Sermo Lupi

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I was surprised to see we don't have a Symphony X megathread on the forum yet. With another album forthcoming and several side projects soon to be released, now seemed as good a time as any to start one.

New Symphony X Album

There's still no release date for the upcoming album, but several members of the band made statements in mid-2019 and throughout 2020, providing various updates. These updates were then effectively deferred a year once it was obvious the pandemic wasn't going away in 2021. Russell Allen addressed the subject at length in a podcast from June 2021 (quoted below), basically saying that the band wants to do a 25th anniversary tour before releasing the new album. Reading between the lines, I suspect Michael Romeo probably has most of the material composed at this point, but the band has only just started to sit down to rough it out in order to record and polish it into an album.

I'd guess we won't see the new album until late 2022 or early 2023 at the soonest.

Some relevant quotes about the band's progress:
  • June 2019, Michael Romeo: "It just seemed like we just needed a little time for everybody to regroup and do their own things. That's why we decided to do this [2019 tour]...we just said, 'Instead of working on a record, let's just go out and tour a little bit. Let's get everybody back together, back on the [same] page and have some fun.' That's what we're doing here. As far as a record, after we get back, we have another run in South America in July and August, but once we get back to the States in the fall, we're going to talk about a record and what we're going to do. Usually, we'll just sit around and come up with some ideas — what's it going to be about — but once that happens, it's pretty quick…I think it's just going to naturally go where it goes."
  • May 2020, Mike LePond: "Well, what we decided is as soon as the virus thing kind of slows down a little bit, we're gonna get together and write a new record. We've told [our record label] Nuclear Blast that we're ready to start writing, so they know. So the wheels are gonna start, I would say, within about a month or so [in June 2020]"
  • Sept 2020, Mike LePond: "We were planning to do some tours in 2020 and then we got hit with the virus, so we put all our plans on hold. We moved the touring to 2021. As far as the new album, I think as soon as the virus stuff goes away, I think we'll start getting together and writing songs."
  • June 2021, Russell Allen: "We were supposed to do this 25-year Anniversary Tour back in 2020, so we still want to do that. We've been working on material now, but we still want to do that run. I mean, all the booking agents, they're like, 'there's no loss here in terms of the public interest, and the fans want to see you. So just do this run, and then get your record out [afterward]'...So that's what we're thinking, and I think it's a good way to go. We can follow that up immediately with the material we've been working on for the new record and everyone's going to be into it, and that's going to be great for Symphony X. But I don't want to sit around--and I know Mike [Romeo] doesn't either--trying to get a new record done [when] everything opens back up again. Because that's when all the excitement is there! And we want to be a part of that excitement. We had already planned to be out there [in 2020, doing the 25th Anniversary Tour], so we might as well just go out there and do that, and that's what we're planning on doing."

Side Projects (2015-2020)

Since the release of Underworld in 2015, here's what the band has been up to:

Michael Romeo:
  • 2018 - War of the Worlds Part 1, the first part of his second full-length solo album. Second part is forthcoming in 2022.
  • 2015-2020 - Guest solos/guitars/orchestration on Mike Lepond's Silent Assassins' Pawn and Prophesy and Whore of Babylon, DGM's The Passage, DiAmorte's The Red Opera, Mari Hamada's Gracia, and Verni's Barricade.
Russell Allen:
  • 2015 - Level 10, Chapter One, a full-length album from the band Level 10, which Allen co-founded a few years earlier.
  • 2015 - Adrenaline Mob, Dearly Departed, an EP of cover songs.
  • 2017 - Adrenaline Mob, We the People, a full-length (and likely the final) album from Adrenaline Mob.
  • 2020 - Allen/Olzen, Worlds Apart, a full-length album with ex-Nightwish vocalist Annette Olzen.
  • 2015-2020: Guest vocals on Ayreon's The Source, Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Letters from the Labyrinth, and Magni Animi Viri's Heroes Temporis.
Mike LePond:
  • 2018 - Mike LePond's Silent Assassins, Pawn and Prophesy
  • 2020 - Mike LePond's Silent Assassins, Whore of Babylon
  • 2015-Present: a million different sessions and/or side projects with bands Affector, Burnt City, Dead Risen, Death Dealer, Everdawn, Ross the Boss, Two Hundred Feet, Ureas, Waken Eyes, Elegacy, Eternity's End, Them, Aldaria, Annysia, Anuryzm, Burning Witches, DiAmorte, Enbound, Exxiles, Icy Steel, Karma, Lalu, Maegi, Marius Danielsen, Mentalist, Midnight Eternal, MindMaze, Mr Ego, Myrkgand, Obsidian, Painters of Ether, Silvertrain, Tommorrow's Eve, Tony Gabriel's Orbynot, Universal Mind Project, and Vivaldi Metal Project.
Michael Pinnella:
  • 2018 - Mike LePond's Silent Assassins, Pawn and Prophesy
  • 2020 - Mike LePond's Silent Assassins, Whore of Babylon
  • 2015-Present: Session work for Dark Sky Choir
Jason Rullo:
  • 2020 - 3 Rules, Rule of 3, a full-length from a genre-crossing side project that reminds of the extreme progressive metal band, Octopus, if anyone is familiar.
Side Projects (Forthcoming)
  • 2022 - War of the World's Part 2. Only a 30 second teaser clip has been released so far, linked below.
  • 2022 - Star One, Revel in Time. Michael Romeo has contributed a solo to the new Star One album, which previously had been a collaboration between Arjen Lucassen and Russell Allen. That makes me think Russell Allen may also be announced as a guest vocalist in due course, but nothing on that as of yet. The solo and the full single are linked below.
And finally some links:




 

MFB

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Fucking love Symphony X, only had the pleasure of seeing them once in my 16 years of listening to them, but I plan to see them in the spring with Haken. Iconoclast is really the only album I don't jive with, and I fall off hard after Odyssey. V is in my opinion the best concept of album of all time, it's just fucking solid.

I actually did just see Russell with TSO on Friday night, always shocked at the guys they pull in
 

Spaced Out Ace

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This 3-5+ year between albums shit isn’t helping anyone get momentum. Anyways, hope the new album comes before 2023. Hell, Deep Purple have released two albums during the pandemic.
 

TheShreddinHand

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Six going on seven years since there last album, feels like an eternity. My son was in diapers at the time and now plays travel baseball to put it in perspective for me.

But I freaking love symphony x! I just don’t get Romeo though. They could easily be as big as DT if he gave two shits and actually was accessible like JP is. I’ve just come to terms with the fact that the band doesn’t care about that. I digress..

But back on topic, can’t wait for the next solo album from Romeo and whenever they put out a new Sy X album. They’ve written some of the best albums (V, Divine Wongs, Odyssey) and can’t wait to see what they’ve got in store.
 

bostjan

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I love Symphony X! Some of the most down to earth guys in prog-metal, to boot!

I first heard them on a mixtape back when they still had the first singer (Song was "The Raging Season"). No idea what ever happened to that guy, and it doesn't seem like many people care. Anyway, I thought the song was cool, but, at the time, had no idea who the band was, and I didn't hear anything more about them until DWoT came out. When it did, I paid over $35 for the CD, just because, at the time, no one stocked their records. Soon after, they started getting traction. When they were on tour for V, I had tickets to go see them, but got a bad stomach bug and had to miss the show. I caught them on tour after Odyssey, then on Gigantour. And then they kind of blew up with Paradise Lost, which was probably the most deserved and long awaited band success I've seen come to fruition. Over that entire span, I just grew to respect them more and more.

I'd love to see them next year. They are supposed to be playing in Boston, and then in Montreal, around my birthday. Hopefully the space aliens and superviruses will all hold off until after the tour so I can finally see them again. Hard to believe that it's been 15 years since I saw them live!
 

Sermo Lupi

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Fucking love Symphony X, only had the pleasure of seeing them once in my 16 years of listening to them, but I plan to see them in the spring with Haken. Iconoclast is really the only album I don't jive with, and I fall off hard after Odyssey. V is in my opinion the best concept of album of all time, it's just fucking solid. I actually did just see Russell with TSO on Friday night, always shocked at the guys they pull in

I prefer the old stuff but love the new stuff for different reasons. I've seen them live twice since 2015. Both shows were two of my favorite concerts ever. Hearing the Odyssey live in 2019 was an experience of a lifetime for me, though. Incredible.

If they don't bring the 25th Anniversary tour to Europe, I may have to seriously consider flying back to catch one of the Canadian tour dates. It sounds like it'll be a hell of a show from what Russell Allen said in that podcast I linked above!

This 3-5+ year between albums shit isn’t helping anyone get momentum. Anyways, hope the new album comes before 2023. Hell, Deep Purple have released two albums during the pandemic.

Six going on seven years since there last album, feels like an eternity. My son was in diapers at the time and now plays travel baseball to put it in perspective for me.

It's funny, I was watching an old interview from the Paradise Lost tour a few months ago. The band was playing one of the bigger festivals for the first time (Gigantour, maybe?), and the interviewer brought up the fact that it'd been 5 years between the Odyssey and Paradise Lost. Both Michael Romeo and Russell Allen swore those delays were in the past, and explained how they wanted to get on a more regular write/record/tour schedule now that they'd broken through. I had to laugh because of how strongly they stated their convictions! They've taken 5+ years between albums three times since those statements in ~2006.

I love Symphony X! Some of the most down to earth guys in prog-metal, to boot!

I first heard them on a mixtape back when they still had the first singer (Song was "The Raging Season"). No idea what ever happened to that guy, and it doesn't seem like many people care. Anyway, I thought the song was cool, but, at the time, had no idea who the band was, and I didn't hear anything more about them until DWoT came out. When it did, I paid over $35 for the CD, just because, at the time, no one stocked their records. Soon after, they started getting traction. When they were on tour for V, I had tickets to go see them, but got a bad stomach bug and had to miss the show. I caught them on tour after Odyssey, then on Gigantour. And then they kind of blew up with Paradise Lost, which was probably the most deserved and long awaited band success I've seen come to fruition. Over that entire span, I just grew to respect them more and more.

I'd love to see them next year. They are supposed to be playing in Boston, and then in Montreal, around my birthday. Hopefully the space aliens and superviruses will all hold off until after the tour so I can finally see them again. Hard to believe that it's been 15 years since I saw them live!

Thanks for sharing that. I became a fan when the Odyssey came out around 2002. I've always been fascinated by the mystique the band had in the 90s when they were popular in Europe and Japan but not in North America. It's like they were underground yet somehow rocketing to the top of the prog scene at the same.

Speaking of Paradise Lost, I remember pre-ordering that album and listening to it on a shitty portable speaker all summer, glued to the liner notes and marveling at the lyricism and music. When I showed my close friend (with whom I shared a lot of my musical and guitar-playing development during my teenage years), he channeled Keanu Reeves with: "Woah! I'm getting heavy religious vibes from this!" :lol:

Looking back now, Symphony X are probably my favourite band of all time. As you say, they're so down to earth despite producing some of the very best music in the genre. Each band member's technical prowess is undeniable, yet they have a knack for making really impactful music with their talents. Actually, I'd go so far as to say their accomplishments go beyond the music industry because the band's adaptations of classic works (such as the Odyssey, Paradise Lost, and Edgar Cayce's writings) are among the best examples produced in any form of popular media.

It's difficult to call one of the best-respected bands of the genre underrated. I do feel Symphony X hasn't really gotten their due, however, even if that has partly been their own fault to not promote their music more broadly (as mentioned above).

Here's to hoping 2022 will be a good year for them.
 

Lorcan Ward

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But I freaking love symphony x! I just don’t get Romeo though. They could easily be as big as DT if he gave two shits and actually was accessible like JP is. I’ve just come to terms with the fact that the band doesn’t care about that. I digress..

He’s a strange guy who stays out of the public light. In his whole career he’s only done a few guitar magazine features. The guitar chapter, two more young guitar instructional articles, betcha can’t play this for guitar world and that one video warming up backstage. I’ve heard from people they were adamant against ever releasing tab books, which has only changed recently and he’s very difficult to interview. With a few solo playthroughs on a YouTube channel the guy could jump back into the public light no problem.

Michael has said in interviews that modern music distribution through streaming has killed a lot of his enthusiasm to release music. The band could churn out albums a lot quicker if they wanted. Like you said they don’t seem to care and have a lot of other musical projects to occupy their time.
 

yan12

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There is no money behind them, and until that time, they will be on the fringe. And they are musicians that are not just chasing dollars.

They are not on the fringe at all for people that love that style of music, and in fact, Romeo has few equals. WoW part I was an incredible record and you can hear his arranging abilities and passion for movie themes rise to the front of that record. The entire band is fantastic, but Romeo is a force of nature.

I have seen him a few times live and his personality is honest. He would much rather play guitar then talk about it, and I think he does interviews on the road as part of the job. But he really is a focused individual that realizes the state of the music business, and as such, does things at his own pace because he is under no pressure.

I support all those guys do because I really feel like they deserve it. I also like the music but it is painful to watch "in" bands get recognition and support while these world-class musicians barely get a nod. I personally consider Romeo the overall best prog-metal guitarist out there at the moment. He can play many styles of music and his two-handed fluidity is hard to replicate. Everyone I know that has worked with him says he is an uber talent on many levels that folks don't know about, and I believe it.
 

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I find them to be more consistent than Dream Theater who I've pretty much stopped buying new records because of James LaBrie and just not digging any on Octavarium moving forward. Divine Wings of Tragedy is a classic and they deserve much more recognition, but it seems they are okay with their level of success.
 

bostjan

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He’s a strange guy who stays out of the public light. In his whole career he’s only done a few guitar magazine features. The guitar chapter, two more young guitar instructional articles, betcha can’t play this for guitar world and that one video warming up backstage. I’ve heard from people they were adamant against ever releasing tab books, which has only changed recently and he’s very difficult to interview. With a few solo playthroughs on a YouTube channel the guy could jump back into the public light no problem.

Michael has said in interviews that modern music distribution through streaming has killed a lot of his enthusiasm to release music. The band could churn out albums a lot quicker if they wanted. Like you said they don’t seem to care and have a lot of other musical projects to occupy their time.
I only met him once, but spent more than a few minutes with him. It's a fun story that I just have to share, actually: my and my buddy were at Gigantour and were right up front for their set on the second stage. They delivered 100%. After the show, they climbed down the front of the stage. Only a couple of fans at the show even bothered to interact with them, which was disappointing to me on a couple levels. So, they were basically just standing around with us shooting the shit and my buddy asked if they were hungry, and me, my buddy, the two Michaels, and Jason Rullo all went to get a pizza. I was over the fucking moon to share a cheese pizza with three of the guys from my favourite band.

Anyway, to me, he seemed like the least strange guy I've met who is playing at that level. He's just, IDK, a regular guy who happens to be one of the fastest shredders and most talented songwriters in progressive metal. I just don't think he's got that sort of larger-than-life personality that music reporters expect. Plus, and this is crazy to think of now that they've broken through, but, even when they released their 5th studio album, they were playing at some of the same venues my band was playing at. Sure, we were local and they were from the East Coast, but it's not like they were playing at stadiums or even upper tier medium-sized venues, but the same shitty venues in shitty neighbourhoods that were frequented by newer local bands and washed-up national acts. Living in the USA, which is the place they call home, I used to have to order their albums from overseas, because they weren't even available domestically. They were all working regular jobs (IDK, maybe they still are) and living a lifestyle not that different from most people in my social group. Maybe it just doesn't go to your head when it takes you that long to get attention, and I get the feeling that the metal magazines were hoping for more antics or at least more chaotic energy. Not that Petrucci would be anywhere near as crazy as interviewing Ozzy or DLR or even Lemmy, but you can tell he's got that sort of big-roller bubbliness and outgoing personality (even if it's something he turns on and off for the media, who knows?).

On a different topic, I've been messing around on the drums a lot more lately, and Jason's rhythms are vastly under-rated. I feel, even though I can't nail the nuances, I can at least keep up with virtually any Dream Theater song, but Symphony X's drum parts are at least just a little more intense, and I can't even fake it through an entire song without stopping at least once. I think that generally fits how Romeo's guitar parts are much more gymnastic than other prog bands. Since everyone compares them to DT, they are, in a lot of ways the anti-DT. Meaning, in DT, the vocals are more show-offy and the instrumental parts are rhythmically challenging, but the technicality is more in the nuance - in SX, the vocals are much more grounded and fundamentally simpler, with tons of nuance to make them difficult to replicate, whereas the instrumental parts are so much more flashy and in-your-face.
 

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Do we really need a megathread to say these guys are awesome? It only takes one post!

Time for a full listen of "The Divine Wings Of Tragedy", I guess...
 

asopala

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I only met him once, but spent more than a few minutes with him. It's a fun story that I just have to share, actually: my and my buddy were at Gigantour and were right up front for their set on the second stage. They delivered 100%. After the show, they climbed down the front of the stage. Only a couple of fans at the show even bothered to interact with them, which was disappointing to me on a couple levels. So, they were basically just standing around with us shooting the shit and my buddy asked if they were hungry, and me, my buddy, the two Michaels, and Jason Rullo all went to get a pizza. I was over the fucking moon to share a cheese pizza with three of the guys from my favourite band.

Anyway, to me, he seemed like the least strange guy I've met who is playing at that level. He's just, IDK, a regular guy who happens to be one of the fastest shredders and most talented songwriters in progressive metal. I just don't think he's got that sort of larger-than-life personality that music reporters expect. Plus, and this is crazy to think of now that they've broken through, but, even when they released their 5th studio album, they were playing at some of the same venues my band was playing at. Sure, we were local and they were from the East Coast, but it's not like they were playing at stadiums or even upper tier medium-sized venues, but the same shitty venues in shitty neighbourhoods that were frequented by newer local bands and washed-up national acts. Living in the USA, which is the place they call home, I used to have to order their albums from overseas, because they weren't even available domestically. They were all working regular jobs (IDK, maybe they still are) and living a lifestyle not that different from most people in my social group. Maybe it just doesn't go to your head when it takes you that long to get attention, and I get the feeling that the metal magazines were hoping for more antics or at least more chaotic energy. Not that Petrucci would be anywhere near as crazy as interviewing Ozzy or DLR or even Lemmy, but you can tell he's got that sort of big-roller bubbliness and outgoing personality (even if it's something he turns on and off for the media, who knows?).

On a different topic, I've been messing around on the drums a lot more lately, and Jason's rhythms are vastly under-rated. I feel, even though I can't nail the nuances, I can at least keep up with virtually any Dream Theater song, but Symphony X's drum parts are at least just a little more intense, and I can't even fake it through an entire song without stopping at least once. I think that generally fits how Romeo's guitar parts are much more gymnastic than other prog bands. Since everyone compares them to DT, they are, in a lot of ways the anti-DT. Meaning, in DT, the vocals are more show-offy and the instrumental parts are rhythmically challenging, but the technicality is more in the nuance - in SX, the vocals are much more grounded and fundamentally simpler, with tons of nuance to make them difficult to replicate, whereas the instrumental parts are so much more flashy and in-your-face.

Romeo's a guy I'd love to meet. He seems like an interesting fellow, and from what Lepond and Russ have told me, he's someone who just writes when he writes. It's really Romeo's project at the end of the day, and it'll be ready when it's ready, which not even the band knows for sure. Not sure if Lepond has another job he does when not with Symphony X or Metal Mike, but I know Russ also sings for Adrenaline Mob and TSO, which keeps him busy. Heck, he's on tour now.

Jason's drumming I agree is more chaotic, but it's worth mentioning DT and Symphony X play different styles--while DT is more of a straight-up prog metal band, Symphony X in my opinion is American-style power metal first, prog second. Speed with Symphony X is more of a thing, along with the occasional power (metal) ballad. DT takes it easy most of the time I feel tempo-wise. Though with Russ, he's a master singer, but focuses on just getting the melodies strong rather than flashiness half the time. He has the chops to show off a bunch vocally, but he tends not to, letting his gritty singing voice do the talking (and turning it off when it makes sense).

JP in my experience strikes me as more of an ambivert, someone who can be outgoing but sometimes just wants to blend in a bit. That's been my experience the last few times I've seen him not doing gigs.
 

lurè

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V: the new mythology suite should be a school subject.
 

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I lost all interest in symohony x when they became more of a straight power metal band.

Songs like the odyssey, and the divine wings of tragedy are what drew me to them. They sound nothing like that now.
 

asopala

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I lost all interest in symohony x when they became more of a straight power metal band.

Songs like the odyssey, and the divine wings of tragedy are what drew me to them. They sound nothing like that now.

I'll tell you right now, writing a 20 minute song is a heck of a lot harder than playing a 20 minute song. Especially keeping it engaging the whole time is a challenge and a half. Though it's interesting they haven't done it in 20 years, but I guess it's cause getting older means you get more concerned about trimming the fat, so to speak. Personal opinion here, but I think they're still plenty proggy with the weird sections and time signatures and whatnot. And to me they feel closer in style to Fates Warning than Iced Earth, for example.
 

bostjan

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If you like the proggier stuff, V ought to be at the top of the list. But the most recent 3 albums are definitely more heavy and gritty and less etheral/cerebral. I love both sides of the coin, though, personally.
 

donniekak

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If you like the proggier stuff, V ought to be at the top of the list. But the most recent 3 albums are definitely more heavy and gritty and less etheral/cerebral. I love both sides of the coin, though, personally.
Fallen was the first symphony x song I heard, and I was in love instantly.

I guess one of my favorite things about "prog" is the big difference in texture, style, and sound of parts all in the same song. New symphony x is mostly wall of sound super distorted riffs with no dynamic range.

And I hate to say it but it wasn't romeos leads that drew me in. It was the rhythm stuff. The newer albums are a lot different there, if only tone wise.

For what it's worth I still buy every album they put out. Because like dream theater, I may not like most of the album, but not many bands put out material I like, so I support the ones who do even if it's just a song or two per album.
 

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Anyway, to me, he seemed like the least strange guy I've met who is playing at that level.

I'm curious, when you say that, do you mean that he doesn't have that "rockstar" attitude, for lack of a better description? Or (and this is my experience meeting some master musicians) he doesn't come off as like being an ultra introvert who only cares about music/playing and is not "normal"?
 


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