Symphony X marks the spot

by Michael Popke

The best music news I received all week came courtesy of Nuclear Blast Records: Symphony X has finally entered the studio to begin recording the follow-up to 2007’s Paradise Lost, and the album should be released by year’s end. According to reports from the heavy neo-classical/progressive-metal band, the drums and most of the rhythm guitars have been recorded, with the lyrics and melodies in the process of being fine-tuned.

This will be Symphony X’s first studio album for Nuclear Blast (the band’s eighth overall) after a long stint with InsideOut Music. I’ve hung out with these guys before – interviewing them at Atlanta’s ProgPower USA (where they opened for headliners Nightwish); chilling with them on their tour bus in Chicago while they were on tour with Blind Guardian; and bumping into them in upper-level lobby of The Rave in Milwaukee, where they were part of Megadeth’s inaugural Gigantour – and they are friendly, down-to-earth people who collectively transform into one of the most intense, musically committed and passionate bands I’ve ever seen once they hit the stage.

Guitarist Michael J. Romeo has previously reported that the Symphony X has “over an hour of really good stuff that we really dig; there’s more than enough stuff there that we can choose the best songs to go on the CD. … But all of the songs are really strong. One is shaping up to be 10 minutes-plus. I think everyone will like it. It has a little bit of everything.” (That’s not much to go on, is it?)

Meanwhile, the band is encouraging social interaction with their anxious fans by asking them to submit questions for a soon-to-be-updated FAQ section at SymphonyX.com. Questions should be e-mailed to symxfaq@gmail.com, with “FAQ” in the subject line. Fans also can submit names of bands with which they’d like to see Symphony X tour by sending an e-mail to the same address, but with “Tour Suggestion” in the subject line. How about featuring Symphony X on another Dream Theater-led Progressive Nation tour? DT and SX with Evergrey and Kamelot, perhaps? Or with Pain of Salvation and Shadow Gallery? Heck, I don’t care — as long as Symphony X hit the road again.

I’m just glad to know that these guys haven’t packed it in. They shouldn’t have waited five years to release Paradise Lost after 2002’s breakthrough album, The Odyssey — as it arrived after fans got tired of waiting. Likewise, three years might even be too long. But here’s hoping the still-untitled record (and the Nuclear Blast promotional machine) finally brings Symphony X to the masses — whenever that may be.


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