I could be wrong but I think it's my fourth time with Symphony X. I've always found them to be a pretty cool band but they never gained my fanboy status like a few other bands I could mention. I still like to check them out whenever they release a CD and Underworld is a great effort by the guys. When I saw that Tunisians Myrath would be the main support I quickly nabbed a ticket for this show as I love those guys too. There was a further support band of which I know little, called Melted Space.
Said band took to the stage at precisely 7.30 and played a 30 minute set of symphonic beauty and the beast metal with no less than 8 members on stage including no less than 4 singers. 1 growler, 1 male clean and 2 female clean one of which was slightly operatic and the other one more normal clean. They only had use of half the stage so it was a bit difficult for them to all fit on stage at the same time but thankfully they weren't all required for most of the songs! I wasn't too impressed with them actually especially the clean male singer whose voice was rather weak. Their songs were drenched with double bass drumming as well so if was hard to make out much in a blur of speed and a rather poor and typical "support band" sound mix. I enjoyed listening to the chicks though especially the very pretty thin as a rake one! Her vocals weren't all that though, the other girl actually had a better voice. Either way Melted Space didn't float my boat and they didn't play any longer than their allotted 30 minutes.
Myrath came on at 8.15 or so and immediately the sound mix was better and I had been looking forward to their set immensely and boy did they not disappoint! The sound mix was crystal clear especially Zaher's amazingly clean vocals. They played a short but pretty awesome set made of mainly new songs and a couple of their older songs. The highlights for me were Believer the amazing new song which sounds just as good live. They played it to perfection. Zaher's live vocals are superb as well as the guitarist whose riffs and solos are to die for. I loved Merciless Times from the previous album and the final song Duat was another huge highlight. I missed more songs from Tales of the and though but alas they've only got 40 minutes or so. I hope to see a headline set from them one day. they seemed to go down so well with the masses down on the Assembly Hall floor as well. Their mix of Kamelot and middle eastern melody is just a pure delight for the ears. Great stuff and a perfect support for the kings of power/prog Symphony X.
Storm of Lies
Get Your Freedom Back
At just after 9 or a few minutes after the lights went down and the excitement from down below reached fever pitch as the Symphony X guys took their positions as the Overture intro played over the PA before the band tore into pounding opener Nevermore. I didn't know it at the time as the song was blaring it out but the band is touring Underworld and they would go on to play it in it's entirety but not in CD order as Russell explained later. Anyhow Underworld sounded bloody amazing from my vantage point, second row on the balcony. Russell's look is a bit hardman nu-metal with his wrap around shades and slicked back hair but it doesn't detract from his singing at all.
One thing I noticed about previous "X" gigs is that they play at colossal volume, especially Romeo's guitar. As the opener roared out of the PA it felt at least twice as loud as Myrath's set. And yet Russell's roar could still be heard over Romeo's gargantuan riffs and solos. The chorus of Nevermore saw the crowd takeover and it sent shivers up the spine the full participation and the huge roar that greeted the songs end. Symphony X\had just begun the ultimate demolition job on the Islington Assembly Hall!
They tore into the title track Underworld with ferocious abandon and Kiss of Fire, another venomous effort followed before they finally took it down a notch with the song Without You which Mr Allen sang brilliantly I might add. The guy is a serious and proper showman and has the front rows eating out of his hand whilst never one losing focus of the melody or losing track. Charon, one of my fave tracks from Underworld followed and was totally immense. More album songs followed and all were received and lapped up by the bay crowd down below.
One thing I will say about Romeo is that, that guy can fuckin' shred his ass off. His flurry of notes is unsurpassed but with the monstrous volume that he plays at, the solos can before a wall of sound and feeling or melody is lost. I guess that's just his style. He's an old school more is more style shredder and wants to tear you a new one all the time rather tha caress your ears with a gorgeous melody. They played all of the new album apart from Legend which they left until the final song of the night which was a fitting move. They played three "X" classics to close out the main and to please the crowd. Out of the Ashes never fails to bring up a sing along.
The encore saw the band return after huge cheers from the packed downstairs and play the very heavy Set the World on Fire and ending with the epic Legend. I am actually very glad that they played the whole of Underworld. It really is a classic in their discography and deserved to have every song played. Every member of Symphony X is at the top of their game but the band to me is just a one man led battle machine and that man is the one and only Russell Allen. The guy is just something else! His power on the mic is truly a sight to behold and leaves you in total awe at his performance. This is by far the best I have seen Symphony X play of all the times I've seen them. I think I like Myrath more on record than them but Sym X blew them out of the water live. A truly phenomenal and powerful performance that takes the Underworld record and makes it sound a much mightier and epic beast. If you are so so about Underworld, do yourself a favour and check it out live and prepare to have your ears and neck wrecked!
Kiss of Fire
To Hell and Back
In My Darkest Hour
The Death of Balance/Lacrymosa
Out of the Ashes
Sea of Lies
Set the World On Fire