War Of The Worlds/Pt.1

Michael Romeo is the founder, guitarist and chief songwriter for the progressive metal band Symphony X. As the bands guitarist, Symphony X have released nine studio albums in a twenty year plus career, with Michael gaining an international reputation as both a guitarist and a song writer. His compositions are often of an adventurous and orchestral nature, with his first solo effort, a wandering journey of twists and turns, experimentation and a few surprises. Recruiting singer Rick Castellano, drummer John Macaluso, and Black Label Society bass player John DeServio, 'War Of The Worlds/Pt.1' was released in 2018.    
'Introduction' is what introduces the album, a pleasant and atmospheric, crescendo building instrumental, generating a vision of a mystical nature, becoming much darker as it progresses through a symphonic vibe to its climactic end. A solo album by a guitarist will normally always feature guitar led songs and plenty of musical passages, and this debut effort from Michael Romeo easily fits that trend. 'Fear The Unknown' is a bruiser of an opening salvo, fast paced and furious and is heavy metal of the "foot on the monitor" variety, and has an absolute peach of a guitar solo. Without a pause for breath, the album thunders on with the brutal 'Black'. Much heavier than the opening song, 'Black' meshes metal with progressive and thrash traits to great effect. Somehow, there is melody tucked in there too, providing a catchy and infectious romp of intense power. Singer Rick Castellano has a very impressive voice, wide ranging and well suited to this type of music. Going off on a tangent, and surprising every metal head around the world, 'Fucking Robots' is, well I was gonna say weird, but I'll settle for unusual. Electronic hip hop and dubstep are a feature of 'Fucking Robots' as are a whole range of sound effects, from vinyl scratching to computer beeps and bleeps and what can only be described as some strange computerised sounds... Having fun, Michael lets his hair down on this one and just lets the ideas flow...    
Ideas that flow headlong into the very heavy and hard hitting 'Djinn'. One of the heaviest songs on the album, 'Djinn' also chimes in at over seven minutes in length, and is a meandering journey of cinematic overtures and guitar led instrumental passages. The vocal delivery is top notch, with the infectious hooks and melodies keeping your attention all the way to the songs end. Ballad territory is invaded with the eight minutes plus 'Believe', opening with a mellow piano solo, the song cinematically building towards the introduction of a much more soulful and soft vocal performance. 'Believe' is full of emotion, orchestral instrumentals and excellent guitar work. In stark contrast to the last eight minutes, the next four are furiously fast paced, with guitar shredding of the highest calibre, nothing less than you'd expect from Michael. Very heavy, with a machine gun rhythm, 'Differences' is addictive and a definite highlight.    
The three minute instrumental 'War Machine' is an emphatic and cinematic wide screen, surround sound epic that just oozes atmosphere. The lyrical concept for the album is conflict, or as Michael says "them against us", and in the mighty landscape that is 'War Machine', a vision of an epic battle between them and us comes to mind, both sides going at it hammer and tongs, with the victor rising high and standing tall... 'Oblivion' returns the album to its heavy roots, pounding and pulsating as it marches on with crushing jack hammer style riffs, yet losing nothing of the epic cinematic nature that has weaved its way through every song on the album. Ten songs across fifty five minutes is a good weight for an album, an album that comes to an end with 'Constellations'. A piano led intro, softer vocals and a feeling of entering ballad territory once again greets the listener as 'Constellations' sets off. However, 'Constellations' is much more than just another ballad, it is a crescendo building epic, swinging from the climactic to the operatic to the orchestral and every style in between. It is a climactic end to an edge of your seat thrill ride of epic proportions.    
Overall, an adventurous album of a cinematic style atmosphere, epic and emotion fuelled, yet also very heavy and bruising.    
Review By Iron Mathew Collins    
Reviewed For Metal Gods TV