CD review MICHAEL ROMEO ‘War of the Worlds // Pt. 1’

(9/10) There’s some radio silence when it comes to New Jesey-based prog metal band Symphony X that released their latest album ‘Underworld’ in 2015. Between then and now some of the band members focussed on other bands and projects, like singer Russell Allen that released ‘We the People’ with Adrenaline Mob. Bass player Mike LePond launched the impressive ‘Pawn and Prophecy’ album together with Mike LePond’s Silent Assassin and now it’s up to guitarist Michael Romeo to continue the success story of (solo) releases by Symphony X members.

‘War of the Worlds // Pt. 1’ might be seen as Romeo’s solo debut but actually it’s not. It was in 1994, when the axeman worked on some instrumental demo tapes that have been released under the banner of ‘The Dark Chapter’ on a smaller Japanese label. However, that’s the past and it’s the here and now that creates real curiosity. 

‘War of the Worlds // Pt. 1’ has a ten title tracklist of which the first song is more of an introduction to the theme, built on H.G. Wells novel ‘War of the Worlds’. Next to the guitar master himself it’s bassist John DeServio (Black Label Society), John Macaluso (Yngwie Malmsteen, James LaBrie, Ark) and singer Rick Castellano who created this excellent longplayer with exquisite progressive metal songs. 

‘Introduction’ and ‘Fear the Unkwon’ help the album to get out of the boxes very well before ‘Black’ stands out with its impressive heaviness. The melodic chorus balances a aggressive verse and guitar sounds, both reminding me of bands like Metallica. The galloping riff monster  powers a lot and belongs to the ‘have to listen songs’ on ‘War of the World // Pt. 1’. What follows is a real distraction from what you could expect after having listened to the first tracks of this longplayer. There are the melodic soundscapes that remind of Romeo’s mothership, but there are the digital coldness and unusual electronic samples that brings the ‘F*cking Robots’ to life.

A tune you might know from the earlier launched video is the epic ‘Djinn’ and it’s ‘Believe’ with its cinematic approach that’s again closer to Symphony X. A piano introduces this joyful tune that is more than just a track. With its bombastic elements and orchestration the song can be seen as composition that has the potential of being part of a soundtrack. ‘Believe’ is a moment for catching a deep breath before things get faster and heavier again with ‘Differences’.

‘War Machine’ is an instrumental, acting more as a kind of intermezzo, leading towards ‘Oblivion’. The track can easily keep the quality level up high. It’s a terrific combination of excellent guitar solos, heavy riffs, great vocal melodies and bombastic elements.

Things are getting closer to an end. ‘Constellation’ is the dramatic closer of ‘War of the Worlds // Pt. 1’ and brings back the progressive and atmospheric vibes from songs like ‘Believe’. The song might not be the strongest one on the album. However, most other bands would love to have such a song being part of their repertoire.

And as you enjoy this release I can report that part 2 is almost ready recorded, with some fine-tuning that still needs to be done. Therefor, enjoy ‘War of the Worlds // pt. 1’ and prepare yourself for a continuation .





  1. Introduction
  2. Fear the Unknown
  3. Black
  4. F*cking Robots
  5. Djinn
  6. Believe
  7. Differences
  8. War Machine
  9. Oblivion
  10. Constellations


Label: Mascot Label Group

Genre: Progressive Metal

Release Date EU: July 27th, 2018

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