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Live Reviews : Symphony X & Black Majesty @ The Metro Theatre, Sydney 12/10/2016

By on October 13, 2016

Australia has proven to be quite the metal destination in the last few years. The number of first time tours from established and respected bands has been on the steady increase, justice is being done and the ravenous local metal faithful are finally getting what they deserve. Over the coming week we can add another couple of heavy hitters to the growing first timers list, tonight’s addition being US progressive power metal kings, Symphony X.

After twenty-two years and nine albums, they have finally made it to our shores and a full crowd at the Metro Theatre is testament to the fact that this should probably have happened years ago.

symphony x aus tour 2016

Having recently caught these guys at a European festival I’m aware of the majestic power they are currently wielding and know a full set in a heaving, darkened venue will only underline the fact that this band are very obviously one of the great acts of the prog/metal genre and their ‘Underworld’ album is one of the strongest releases from the genre in some time.

After such a long wait, it’s obvious that anticipation for tonights show is high amongst the strong turnout, old shirts are out of the closet and there are warm greetings from friends that may not have seen each other since some Maiden show from the mists of time. Gigs are so great for bringing people together.

Tonight’s support comes from one of Australia’s premier metal acts. Black Majesty are a band of truly international quality as evidenced by a slew of impressive albums, a worldwide touring schedule, and the fact they are one of the obvious go-to bands when quality international prog/trad metal tours hit our country.

A super solid set that covers highlights from their long career shows their potency and it is always great to witness a healthy crowd fully appreciating local talent of such a high standard. Tracks ‘Pheonix’, ‘Stargazer’ and others are powerful and proficient and reward the early arrivers.

Symphony X hit the stage with impressive momentum. The focus for tonight’s show and this tour is their belief in the strength of their current ‘Underworld’ record and to reinforce that they play the entire album, start to finish. As a conceptual story it makes sense to give it a full rendering but the level of confidence in the material is reflective of where this band see themselves at this point and their delivery is super powerful and blindingly good.

We all know Michael Romeo’s immense ability on the guitar and influence as founder, visionary and driving force behind this unit and his faith in singer Russell Allen has really come to fruition as he is fast becoming one of metals more compelling frontmen, engaging and possessed of a voice that not only is capable of telling the story but also of blowing your fucking head off.  This unit as a whole are incredibly powerful, every member of the band are virtuoso in their own right and combined the force they put forward is mighty impressive. The rhythm section of Rullo and LePond lay a solid foundation that allows the keys of Pinella to add depth and colour and the room for the frontmen to fly, this is musicality of the highest order as this genre demands but where these guys really get it right is they have the innate ability to write a killer hook. ‘Nevermore’, ‘Underworld’, ‘Without You’, ‘Run With The Devil’, ‘To Hell And Back’, ‘Legend’ et al are solid tracks that lend well to a very strong album and as the story unfurls all are drawn in and pulled under for the whole journey.

The band are in stellar form, an overly decerning ear might have some issue with the sound mix but they manage to break through the mudding mix and all in attendance are relishing the opportunity to see the band at the top of their game.

Deleving into their back catalogue with ‘Serpents Kiss’, ‘Of Sins and Shadows’, ‘Set the World on Fire’ among others remind us that history is strong and the well runs deep with these guys and the crowd lap up every track with a roar that has been a long time coming. With an unexpected curve ball they pull out an impressive rendition of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Immigrant Song’, a song of mythical majesty that is telling as a sign of what has influenced these guys to take up their musical journey. After being called back for a second encore the set draws to a close with ‘ Sea of Lies’ and all in attendance are well and truly aware they are witness to a masterclass by a band with savage chops and a firm handle on a set of songs that are of the very highest calibre.

It is great to finally see these guys on Australian soil, there is a large and growing audience for them and other bands of their ilk and I get the strong impression we will not need to wait 22 years to see them in these parts again.