Monday, August 6, 2018

Michael Romeo - War of The Worlds, Pt. 1 (2018)

Most progressive metal lovers know Michael Romeo as the mastermind virtuoso in Symphony X, but it is safe to wonder how many knew that he had a short and sweet solo career before he started that band. I certainly did not know that, and now it seems like he wants to revive that project now that his main band is on a mini hiatus. Seems reasonable to put a "Pt. 1" at the end of the title then, because surely it will not take another 24 years between albums right? RIGHT???

Well, that is an issue we have to deal with later, because what we are dealt with in "War of The Worlds, Pt. 1" is just pure brilliance. Just as the name suggests, Michael takes a big deal of inspiration from the famous science fiction novel with the same name by H. G. Wells, telling about a planet scale invasion by aliens from Mars and what happens to the human race. It is a classic story that has been adapted a million times in movies, shows, and other media, but a metal album? It has probably been done before, but it is a first for me, and Michael does a great job in re-telling this well known story, letting the music lead the way.

Helping out Michael is two Johns (DeServio on bass and Macaluso on drums), and vocalist Rick Castellano, who also helped Michael in the song writing. Rick definitely steals the show by being the best younger version of Russell Allen possible, showing a great range and a nice sense to elevate the messages further. I seriously do not know where Michael keeps on finding these fantastic singers who not only has the talent, but also fits like a glove with the music Michael creates.

As expected though, this is ultimately the Michael Romeo show, with him showing off all of his powers that are at his disposal. The best performance from him is definitely in "Differences", a brilliant song in a lot of aspects, and Michael just adds to its sweetness with some great techniques. Listen extra closely to the chorus so you do not miss out on some classic Romeo shredding, just magic for the ears. Otherwise there is a lot of great riffs and melodies coming from that guy's guitar, with some of my personal favourites coming from "Fear The Unknown", "Black", and the previously mentioned "Djinn".

So if you have not guessed it already, "War of The Worlds, Pt. 1" has a lot of similarities to Symphony X, with that melodic, yet heavy, progressive style that has made the band such an entity. However, Michael is mixing in a lot of other influences in here to give it its own identity, and not be just a measly clone of the original. A lot of the orchestral parts in a song like "Believe" actually makes it sound more like something early Dream Theater would do. Then we have some middle eastern vibes in "Djinn", a lot of classical music in several songs, and we also have some dubstep in "F*cking Robots", which is kind of fitting, creating an atmosphere for those giant three legged machines to lay waste on the Earth. It is certainly the best use of that "wub wub" bullshit since Korn made that hit or miss record "The Path of Totality".

So if there was any doubt on that Michael Romeo could not succeed without the rest of Symphony X, then I think this album completely crushes those doubts. "War of The Worlds, Pt. 1" is a whole new journey through a classic story, and it sounds better than ever. It is another testament on Michael's capabilities, to take his signature playing style and giving it a new outfit with a bunch of new guys helping out. This is an impressive album from start to finish, with tons of fire power and quality to the very brim, so obviously this is a must for lovers of progressive metal, and really all other metal lovers as well. Let us just hope that it does not take another 24 years for Michael to release part 2.

Songs worthy of recognition: Differences, Fear of The Unknown, Black, Djinn, Constellations

Rating: 9,5/10 F*cking Robots

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