For really the first time ever, and not counting his 1994 demo recording Dark Chapter, Symphony X guitar virtuoso Michael Romeo unleashes his official debut solo album for Mascot Records, titled War of the Worlds, Part 1. If you were expecting perhaps an all-instrumental shred fest however, Romeo decided to instead go a route not at all unlike what we've come to expect from his main band, the guitarist joined here by vocalist Rick Castellano, bassist John 'JD' DeServio, and drummer extraordinaire John Macaluso. This is very much a heavy progressive/power metal feast squarely in the vein of more recent Symphony X, so strap yourself in and get ready for an exciting ride.
Those trademark, speedy & crunchy riffs of Romeo burst out of the gate on the venomous ripper "Dear of the Unknown", and it's full tilt from there, as blazing guitars and cinematic keyboards, as well as soaring vocals and manic rhythms make up the bulk of the arrangements throughout the album. Castallano's vocals are quite good, though those who might have been expecting someone completely different sounding than Russell Allen might be a tad disappointed at the obvious similarities between the two. Those reliable vocal hooks are ever present, once again Romeo showing his talents as a songwriter, tracks like "Oblivion", "Fucking Robots", and the epic sounding closer "Constellations" quite memorable from a melodic standpoint. "War Machine" is a great instrumental, part film score bombast and part guitar showcase, while the longest tune here is "Believe", another Symphony X styled prog-metal treat with a great emotional vocal from Castellano and a dazzling Romeo guitar solo. Heaviest tune here is arguably "Djinn", a smoldering, fiery number with some of the most intense rhythms & riffs from the musicians and another potent vocal performance from Castellano, who really is a eye opening find.
Since it's been a number of years since the last Symphony X album, you can almost close your eyes and pretend you are actually hearing a new album from the powerful NJ act, as Romeo has kept the formula pretty much there same here on War of the Worlds, Part 1. Either way you look at it, this is a very enjoyable and molten slab of cinematic progressive metal from one of the most talented guitarists/composers the genre has today.
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02. Fear Of The Unknown
04. F*cking Robotos
08. War Machine