Michael Romeo – War of the Worlds Pt. 1

Michael Romeo of Symphony X has released an epic album entitled War of the Worlds Pt. 1 (Music Theories/Mascot). True to the title, the disk evokes the famous 1938 radio program by H.G. Wells combined with Steven Spielberg’s sense of wonder. The ‘Introduction’ is a sweeping symphonic masterpiece that effortlessly blends traditional symphony with extreme rock guitar playing. The result is an aural masterpiece that heightens the senses and bewitches the mind.

The second track, ‘Fear the Unknown’, has blistering guitar runs with forceful drumming. Rick Castellano’s vocals are spot on, his vocal range is full of intensity and gravitas worthy of a rock opera. ‘Black’ is a hard-driving heavy metal song and the lyrics are of a serious nature, but it doesn’t detract from the wicked guitar playing. To wit, the chorus is right sign-a-longable.

My favourite track is ‘Fucking Robots’. It’s an 8-bit, Tron-esque, Mahler-type, over-the-top impressive song. The vocal harmonies are smooth as butter. This is counterbalanced by the mechanical Transformers industrial metal sound. The last few seconds of the song reminds me of Bear McCreary’s work on Battlestar Galactica. It blends seamlessly into the next track, ‘Djinn’. ‘Djinn’ has the most amazing guitar solos. They are intense and worthy of air guitar heroes.  Halfway through the song, it revisits the McCreary Galactica sound. It’s very middle-eastern/Sagitarron inspired. The drumming and horn section add a sense of weighted importance.

‘Believe’ begins with beautiful solo piano work that soars into grandiose guitar playing. This song is like the beginning of falling action in literature in which everything is revealed. ‘Differences’ has the most poignant lyrics. They reflect the time we are living in perfectly. ‘War Machine’ is like a boss-level Mission Impossible car-helicopter-ski chase down mountains and through Italian cities that screams to be part of a movie soundtrack. ‘Oblivion’ is a sick head-banging heavy metal masterpiece.

The ten songs that make up Michael Romeo’s War of the Worlds Pt. 1 are most intense and the album begs repeated listening as there are subtle nuances that the listener will miss with just one pass. You will find new and ingenious musical elements each time you listen to it. Michael Romeo’s War of the Worlds Pt. 1 is a welcome addition to an audiophile’s arsenal.

9.5/10

VICTORIA ANDERSON