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Description

Michael Romeo is best known as the guitarist, chief songwriter and all-around main man behind the progressive rock titans Symphony X, whose daring mix of neoclassical shred, orchestral textures and wildly elaborate concept pieces has placed the band at the forefront of new metal thrill seekers. The release of his new solo album, War of the Worlds, Part I, should further his reputation as one of the world’s preeminent guitarists and composers of adventurous prog-rock. An ambitious 10-song disc, it blends bracing classic metal with textures that pay homage to film score giants Bernard Hermann and John Williams. For fans of Symphony X who have been waiting two decades for an honest to goodness Michael Romeo solo album (not counting his 1994 demo recording, The Dark Chapter, which was released in several countries), the arrival of War of the Worlds, Part I will be cause for celebration. War Of The Worlds, Part 1 will be released worldwide on July 27, 2018 on Mascot Label Group''s prog imprint Music Theories Recordings.

Track Listings

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

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4.7 out of 54.7 out of 5
199 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

JSwank
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Outrageous, Epic Heavy Symphonic/Cinematic Metal
Reviewed in the United States on July 27, 2018
After almost 25 years as the driving force behind Symphony X, Michael Romeo – one of the best shred-masters in the current era of heavy metal – has finally delivered his true solo release (in the first of two parts)! While it is not his first truly solo attempt, it is... See more
After almost 25 years as the driving force behind Symphony X, Michael Romeo – one of the best shred-masters in the current era of heavy metal – has finally delivered his true solo release (in the first of two parts)! While it is not his first truly solo attempt, it is certainly his first full-scale, grandiose, “true-to form” Romeo effort. Those familiar with Romeo and his primary band Symphony X are familiar with his perfectionistic approach to song-writing and production. Other than the debut Symphony X album (which didn’t have the same level of professionalism and creativity as what was to follow), this guy has never failed to impress with his compositional abilities or his virtuoso skills. War Of The Worlds is, not surprisingly, no exception.

Rick Castellano (vocals), John DeServio (bass) and John Macaluso (drums) are the fellow musicians Michael chose to complete his opus, and man, do they deliver. Castellano has a very different vocal range and style to Russ Allen, which is immediately apparent as this music – while intensely heavy – has a bit more of a melodic metal vibe compared to the harshness of the Symphony X sound. Obviously Romeo wanted to create something distinct from his primary band, so how did he accomplish this? Well, from my standpoint I would first have to say that fans of Symphony X have nothing to fear as this music reminds me a lot of the Iconoclast album, and there are plenty of signature guitar riffs and melodies that will be quite familiar to fans of the X. The science fiction themes align pretty well with the content from Iconoclast, especially in comparison to the more mythological and fantasy content from much of the Symphony X back catalog. Having said that, there are some differences – the biggest being the general lack of keyboard presence. No dueling key/guitar soloing tandems – just lots of great guitar rhythms and riffs over top of a pummeling rhythm section. Of course, Castellano’s vocal presence would be the other major distinguishing quality. He is very melodic, very clean and sounds great here. And while Romeo does shred on the solos, the virtuoso parts seem very subdued in an unexpected, yet pleasant manner. The orchestrations and song structures are geared toward serving the overall sound and definitely do not draw overly indulgent spotlight on Romeo himself. In other words, the songs are the emphasis and not the player, which stands in contrast to many solo works where the primary musician can sometimes come across as having an “agenda” to showcase his/her skills. Thankfully, this is not the case here.

In reality, I think some might be surprised at just how “cinematic” this music is, clearly paying tribute to some of the greats in movie symphonics, like John Williams. This is very evident right out of the gate with “Introduction” (quite the pedestrian name for the opening of an album of this magnitude and caliber). There is a definite nod to Star Wars and other similar genres – this even more apparent on the most “movie-like” track here “Believe” where I hear definite hints of “The Force” theme coming through in the mix. The pre-release songs (“Black,” “Djinn” and “Fear Of The Unknown”) all feature crushing guitars and rhythms fans of Romeo will truly embrace. For me, “Djinn” is probably the best song on the entire album. It has the heavy metal riffs, the melodic chorus sections and then this insane percussive, Middle-Eastern break-out section in the middle. Absolutely killer song! Similarly, “Black” really brings the metal and is one of the most recognizably Romeo/Symphony X songs on the album along with “Fear The Unknown,” Similarly, “Oblivion” is yet another heavy track musically and the lyrics are fantastic. Even the “dubstep” track (“F*cking Robots”) is well-constructed. It will, no doubt, garner the most criticism, but despite its departure from the Romeo “comfort zone,” it’s a pretty good song with some great melodic vocals. I think it is worth noting that Ostura, with their phenomenal release The Room earlier this year, similarly dabbled with dubstep on one track (“The Surge”). Yeah, it is a bit late to the scene, but can’t fault the metal guys for realizing its “heaviness” factor.

The second half of the album highlight may well be the cinematic “Believe” – a song which features planter of musical references to the Star Wars saga, but also is a beautifully melodic song where Castellano really shines. “Differences” is the most political song here and is eerily similar to “The Echo Chamber” from Redemption’s latest release. Both songs deal with the polarity of society and how extreme that chasm has grown. This highly melodic song flows nicely into the album’s second instrumental track, “The War Machine.” This track once again features heavy orchestrations and experimentation. The album then closes out with the crushing riff beast “Oblivion” and the more ethereal “Constellations” – the latter track reminding this listener a bit of Symphony X (“Candlelight Fantasia”).

For those who are also tracking the new Redemption release (Long Night’s Journey Into Day), you might find it interesting that Simone Mularoni did drum recording and guitar re-amping, as well as mixing and mastering on this masterpiece. Two absolutely fantastic progressive metal albums released on the same day, different labels … but some common ground. Crazy. (Mularoni will also be the live guitarist for Redemption.) But Romeo’s music is much more symphonic and bombastic than the introspective Redemption.

Add War Of The Worlds, Part I to the list of killer progressive metal releases this year – Orphaned Land’s Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs, Ostura’s The Room and Redemption’s Long Night’s Journey Into Day. And, for fans of Romeo, there is more to come in Part II (which as I understand is already mostly complete.) In summary, I applaud Romeo for writing some great songs here, for not making it all about guitar-noodling, for keeping it melodic and for keeping the metal flame burning!

Vinyl (update 8/6/18)
Finally have my hands on the vinyl version of this monster of a release and, not surprisingly, this format takes this music to a whole new level of excellence. Mascot always does a good job with their vinyl to begin with, but the 2LP, double gate-fold comes in black, white (pearl) and camo green. Whichever version you decide on, you can''t go wrong here - this recording sounds massive in the analog setting. The lyrics are printed on the lower portion of the inside of the gate-fold (kind of small in my opinion) in order to give the artwork the maximum viewing space. The vinyl version comes with the download so if you''ve already purchased the CD version, no worries. Very clean - and loud - master but unlike the CD, no listener fatigue at high volume.
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Burak
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
An orchestral work complemented by prog metal songs
Reviewed in the United States on August 6, 2018
Being a huge SyX fan, it took surprisingly a couple of listens for me before this album has sunk well. It seems, contrary to what he has done for SyX, the main emphasis of Romeo in this album is the orchestral themes, connected by prog-hard-pop metal songs: bits and themes... See more
Being a huge SyX fan, it took surprisingly a couple of listens for me before this album has sunk well. It seems, contrary to what he has done for SyX, the main emphasis of Romeo in this album is the orchestral themes, connected by prog-hard-pop metal songs: bits and themes played by the orchestra are subtly repeated throughout the songs. I believe this point should be realized by the listener to fully appreciate the album; if you just concentrate on the songs, whether they sound like new SyX, or old SyX, or whatever, you''ll miss the main point of the album. This "side-project" of Romeo, possibly reflects his actual vision or, maybe, an ambition to integrate heavy metal and orchestral music, in a way that has not been achieved before. The nearest SyX approached to this musical style was in V, which I believe to be one of the best prog metal albums of all time, however War of the Worlds is miles ahead of V or The Odyssey, in terms of orchestration, and integration of orchestra and prog metal.

One criticism of the album may be the cheesiness of some of the vocal melodies, the vocals themselves and production, and I partially agree with this criticism. In a way, that''s not a bad thing, being progressive does not necessarily entail staying away from popular music, but capturing good parts of the contemporary is almost a must for a prog metal musician. On the other hand, I''m inclined to think that less polished and more aggressive vocals could have fitted to this orchestral music better. Still, I do think that this is a minor flaw, if it is a flaw at all.

I find the whole album great, without any weak moments. Combining electronic music with orchestra and metal is an interesting experiment, and I hope we''ll hear more of this type of music in the future. I''m impatiently waiting for the second part of the album.
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My Buscarino
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Romeo Stretches Out Post-Symphony X
Reviewed in the United States on September 5, 2018
Russell is out singing on Trans-Siberian. He looks happy. He''s expressed before that he''s done with Symphony X. They may eventually make more records but if you want to hear Romeo play, then this is it. If you listen to the interviews with he had a blast making this with... See more
Russell is out singing on Trans-Siberian. He looks happy. He''s expressed before that he''s done with Symphony X. They may eventually make more records but if you want to hear Romeo play, then this is it. If you listen to the interviews with he had a blast making this with his buddies and it shows.
This is top-notch well-done Symphony X style metal with a few new twists. Romeo obviously enjoys building orchestral parts and has gone through great lengths to make them as believable as possible. I believe much of this was done in his home studio, including guitars which were re-amped later. That said, it''s pretty amazing and inspiring that the best metal album of year is so homegrown.
This is groovy, epic, progressive music, with vocals that are acrobatic but not operatic, some fun with orchestration and even a little old-school wub wub dub sounds on ''robots''.
He said in an interview that John Williams is a big influence, and that his kids would come down to the studio and say something like, "hey dad are you stealing star wars?" This is proof that this dude is a self-aware, super-cool family man with another world of music soundscapes brewing in his mind at all times.
My young kids and I dance like broken machines to ''robots'', but of course I told them it''s called... ''robots.''
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M. Chevalier
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Front runner for album of the year!
Reviewed in the United States on August 7, 2018
Symphonic and progressive with amazing guitars and vocals, what else could you ask for. This could have easily been a Symphony X album as the quality is right up there. Totally blown away by this album with my only complaint being that I wish there was more.
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Hypotenus Love Triangle
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Some amazing work being held back
Reviewed in the United States on February 14, 2019
This album has some amazing guitar work and the songs are pretty good. But they are held back from epicness by the over-reliance on chintzy orchestral synth sounds reminiscent of 90s video games. Almost every song suffers from the synthesizer sounds they used. Had he been... See more
This album has some amazing guitar work and the songs are pretty good. But they are held back from epicness by the over-reliance on chintzy orchestral synth sounds reminiscent of 90s video games. Almost every song suffers from the synthesizer sounds they used. Had he been able to afford or chosen to have an actual orchestra perform the pieces, man, would be soooooo much better. This is also a general issue with most Prog Metal.
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Mass
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Brilliant!
Reviewed in the United States on July 28, 2018
Michael Romeo of Symphony X at it again! Brilliant!
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Guitarp77
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Great!
Reviewed in the United States on August 10, 2018
Wonderful record. Sounds in the vein of the last 3 Symphony X’s albums, but has a orchestral/cinematyc feel that adds the difference to call it a real solo album (plus, its cool that the singer is not an Allen clone!). Great record. If you liKe Symphony X, you won’t be... See more
Wonderful record. Sounds in the vein of the last 3 Symphony X’s albums, but has a orchestral/cinematyc feel that adds the difference to call it a real solo album (plus, its cool that the singer is not an Allen clone!).
Great record. If you liKe Symphony X, you won’t be dissapointed and will love this album!
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Brian
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Excellent work on par with Symphony X best works
Reviewed in the United States on November 8, 2018
Michael could have easily released this under Symphony X name and no one would have batted an eye. This is easily on par with The Odyssey or some his other stronger works. Highly recommended to Symphony X or just prog metal fans.
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Top reviews from other countries

SJP73
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Can''t wait for Pt2. Fantastic
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 18, 2018
This is a fantastic album that grows and grows on you the more you listen. If you are familiar with Symphony X then think of this album as a cinematic extension of their music. There is no Russell Allen but the guy Michael has brought in is excellent and reminds me at times...See more
This is a fantastic album that grows and grows on you the more you listen. If you are familiar with Symphony X then think of this album as a cinematic extension of their music. There is no Russell Allen but the guy Michael has brought in is excellent and reminds me at times of the equally excellent Her Halo by Terramze. There are some unsung heroes in music and Michael Romeo and Jon Oliva are two that command enormous respect from me as they are fantastic musicians, songwriters and have that very special thing, their own sound. If only the two of them would get together! This is a fantastic album for fans of melody, aggressive riffing, symphonic metal and fabulous dynamics. Buy!
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A. M. C. 2014
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Definitely feels like it should be Symphony X with Russ Allen
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 10, 2020
A superb solo release from Mike. No bad tracks on it. Though my caveat is as above this needed to be the album with Russ on it. The vocalist does a competent job but like most people I would love to hear another SX album. I bought this while I was waiting for it.
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Amazon Customer
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
POOR
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 27, 2019
Anyone expecting worthy competition to the classic ''Jeff Wayne'' album of 1978 will be very disappointed, as I was. I will not be bothering with part 2 as and when it is eventually released.
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John-Dale McCallum
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Fair enjoy this badboy!!!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 29, 2019
Really good album. Took a good listen to get past the fact it wasn''t Symphony X!! Musically it is really good. Gave it 5 stars as not a bad song on it although not as good as recent S.X. material but less than 5 stars may put folk off what is a really good album. Been on in...See more
Really good album. Took a good listen to get past the fact it wasn''t Symphony X!! Musically it is really good. Gave it 5 stars as not a bad song on it although not as good as recent S.X. material but less than 5 stars may put folk off what is a really good album. Been on in my car for past 5 weeks since I bought it!
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zed
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Superb
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 20, 2019
Absolutely fantastic if you like symphony x you''ll like this some amazing tunes favourites are differences and constellations such a classy well made piece of art well done Mr Romeo.
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