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Michael Romeo - War of the Worlds, Pt. 1 Award winner

Michael Romeo
War of the Worlds, Pt. 1
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 21 August 2018, 3:32 AM

New Jersey native and Progressive Metal guitarist Michael Romeo is the guitarist and chief composer for the well-known band SYMPHONY X. Released on July 27, 2018, he presents his solo album, the first installment in a forthcoming second part, titled “War of the Worlds, Pt. 1.” Michael commented that most of Part Two is already written, and fans have been waiting for a solo album from the guitarist for years. “War of the Worlds, Pt. 1” contains ten tracks. The “Introduction” is a short, classically inspired piece that uses Symphonic elements before Michael comes in hard with his guitar. From there, wayward scales and aggressive tones dominate the landscape. It segues into “Fear of the Unknown.” The song is fast and the vocals saturated with melody and harmony. Some of the undertones in the guitars remind me of the earlier work of SYMPHONY X. The guitar solo is beautifully complex and ends in modular sequence in support of the melody.

“Black” is a six minute track that both scathes your consciousness, and excites you, with wide open guitar parts that dart in and out of the background with stealth and clandestine force. The on and off again strikes are hard to put into a measurable rhythm but man oh man do they come and go. “Fcking Robots” opens with a tentative piano melody that soon leads to thick and rich, meaty keyboards. The key notes are so fat that they threaten to take over the sound. But the vocal harmonies are the real winner here, struggling through the pea soup with their legato bliss. “Djinn” has that deceptive and suspicious quality that you might expect to hear give the title of the song, with lead guitar bubbling in the background. In Roman mythology, a Djinn is a supernatural genie of sorts. Romeo absolutely buries the strings in the solo sequence.

“Believe” is an eight minute piece that opens with tender piano and leads to a thoughtful guitar passage that is high with grace and refinement. The vocals are pensive at first but soon lead to a full on emotional song that would make for a great single is it wasn’t so long. Still, as an overall song it’s probably the best on the album. “Differences” goes hard and deep from the opening strum of the guitars. From there, it rouses with an emotional delivery in the vocals and lead guitar parts that follow the melody line while reaching out and grabbing a hold of you to make sure you are paying attention. “War Machine” is a three minute instrumental that begins in much of the same way as the opening track; a chronicle of battle intertwined with biting guitar parts that nip at you over and over in the darkness.

“Oblivion” is all about that rhythm. It pulses through your veins with a bloodcurdling pace while the vocals burn out your core. The lead guitar cuts through everything in its path to establish its dominance. “Constellations” closes the album, with pensive piano and mysterious vocals. Some Symphonic elements close in around you as melodious lead guitar takes charge. The whole of the piece has a lot of energy and spirit. It pauses for just a moment around the half way mark; enough time for you to contemplate what you are headed for. Head into the closing charge of the album with emotion and power, as a fade out takes us to the end. Overall, this is fantastic offering, and I can see why fans were psyched to have this outing. His guitar work is amazing. Clearly, he can play, but he doesn’t let his temperament go amok. Instead, he focuses on the songwriting and the vocals as well as the guitars. What he develops in the end is that classical SYMPHONY X sound with a very modern flair. Bravo!

Songwriting: 10
Originality: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Introduction
2. Fear of the Unknown
3. Black
4. Fcking Robots
5. Djinn
6. Believe
7. Differences
8. War Machine
9. Oblivion
10. Constellations
Michael Romeo
Record Label: Mascot Label Group/Music Theories


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Edited 09 December 2022

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