Symphony X is an American progressive metal band from Middletown, New Jersey. Founded in 1994, the band consists of guitarist Michael Romeo, keyboardist Michael Pinnella, drummer Jason Rullo, lead vocalist Russell Allen and bassist Michael Lepond.
They achieved some commercial success with the 2007 album Paradise Lost and the 2011 album Iconoclast, which reached number 76 on the Billboard 200. Romeo explained the band’s name in a 2008 interview; “So, you know, the music we were coming up with had the keyboard thing and the guitar, and some classical elements, so the word ‘Symphony’ came up and, so the dramatic thing, you know? So then, somebody said ‘Symphony X’ and we were like, ‘yeah, that’s cool’ it is that kinda thing, and the ‘X’ is the unknown and all the other stuff we do.”
Symphony X and The Damnation Game (1994−1995)
In early 1994 Michael Romeo (formerly of the bands Phantom’s Opera and Gemini) recorded a studio album titled The Dark Chapter, which featured himself and keyboard player Michael Pinnella. The tape attracted a fair share of attention, particularly in Japan. Romeo then recruited bassist Thomas Miller, drummer Jason Rullo, and vocalist Rod Tyler. Their self-titled debut album was recorded in the same year, and released to a positive reception in Japan by the now-defunct record company Zero Corporation. The band’s second studio album, The Damnation Game, followed six months later. Singer Rod Tyler had left the band by then and was replaced by current singer Russell Allen.
The Divine Wings Of Tragedy and Twilight In Olympus (1996−1998)
The Divine Wings of Tragedy was the album that first gave Symphony X exposure in metal circles. It took a considerable time to record the album, with the recording sessions taking place in 1997, and the album was released late in the year, on November 13th. The positive feedback from the specialized press served to establish Symphony X in Europe; their success in Japan only continued to grow.
At the end of 1997 and for part of the next year, Jason Rullo, their drummer, had to stay away from the band in order to solve personal issues. He was temporarily replaced by Thomas Walling. Even with a temporary drummer, the band recorded Twilight in Olympus, released in early 1998. That year also saw the first live performances from the band, which by then had already gathered many fans from around the globe. Their first official show happened in 1998, in Japan. It was soon followed by a world tour. Bassist Thomas Miller left the band and was replaced by Michael Lepond in that year.
A compilation album, Prelude to the Millennium, was released by the end of 1998. As an extra, it featured a second version of the song “Masquerade” from the first album, with Russell Allen on vocals.
V: The New Mythology Suite and The Odyssey (1999−2005)
Jason Rullo returned to the drums for the band’s fifth album, V: The New Mythology Suite, released in 2000. It was the band’s first release on major progressive label InsideOut Music. The album was their first concept album, dealing with the myth of Atlantis. The album features classics such as “Evolution (The Grand Design)”, “Communion and the Oracle”, “Egypt” and the mini-suite “Rediscovery”, and includes pieces of classical music.
The band went on a European and South American tour shortly after its release and recorded their first live album, Live on the Edge of Forever.
In 2005 Symphony X was featured on Gigantour, a summer festival headlined by Megadeth with Dream Theater, Nevermore and Anthrax. Two Symphony X songs from the tour, “Inferno” and “Of Sins and Shadows”, are featured on the Gigantour DVD and CD-set, released in September 2006.
Paradise Lost (2006–2010)
The band’s album Paradise Lost, a concept album loosely inspired by John Milton‘s epic poem of the same name, was recorded in Romeo’s studio throughout 2006, delayed numerous times and released finally worldwide on June 26, 2007. The band claimed this work had darker themes musically. The album included a special DVD of footage shot by the band throughout their history, available in FYE stores. The release coincided with a 14-month world tour, including a tour through all of Europe with Dream Theater in the fall of 2007. The band also revealed plans to perform in Japan and other Asian countries, as well as appear for the first time ever in Russia, India, and the Middle East.
Paradise Lost debuted at number 123 on the Billboard 200 album chart in the United States, selling 6,300 copies in its first week. The record also debuted at number 1 on the Top Heatseekers Chart.
Symphony X released their first music video for the song “Serpent’s Kiss” on July 28, 2007. It was followed by a video for “Set the World on Fire,” released on January 11, 2008. The band toured North and South America from October to November 2008, and toured Asia in February 2009.
On March 1, 2010, an update on the Symphony X official website announced, that the band had recorded most of their next album and that Romeo and Allen were working on lyrics; Romeo was getting ready to start doing tracking for the album. The album’s name and lyrical concept were revealed on January 29, 2011 in an interview by DJ JC Green of Metal Messiah Radio’s “Heavy Metal Thunder” show with Russell Allen: the follow-up to Paradise Lost will be titled Iconoclast and will have its lyrics centered around “machines taking over everything and all this technology we put our society into pretty much being our demise.” On March 25, 2011, it was announced on the Nuclear Blast website and Blabbermouth.net, that the new Symphony X album, Iconoclast, would be released in Europe on June 17 and in North America on June 21, as a Standard Edition as well as a 2-CD Digipack. Iconoclast debuted at number 76 on the Billboard 200 album chart in the United States, selling more than 7,300 copies in its first week. The record also debuted at number 7 on the Top Hard Rock Chart, number 19 on the Top Rock Chart and number 13 on the Top Independent Chart. The album showcases the highest chart position and the most first-week sales in the band’s history.
On February 25, 2011, Symphony X played the first show of their 2011 tour in Stuttgart, Germany, where they performed two songs from Iconoclast: “End of Innocence” and “Dehumanized”. Some days later, in Antwerp, Belgium, they performed yet another new song, “Heretic”. During their show in London, England, the band debuted another new song titled “Prometheus”.
On February 27, 2013, it was announced that, during the previous week, drummer Jason Rullo was admitted to hospital for heart failure. Jason spent a week in hospital, and was released after some days. He then started a rehab program that took a minimum of 3–6 months under doctors’ care. John Macaluso joined them on tour for their South American and European dates, until Jason Rullo was able to fully recover.
Underworld and band hiatus (2015–2019)
The band is working on releasing a second fan club CD. Michael Romeo said it will be another collection of demo tunes and other rare material, and may also include a bit of content created just for the release, along the lines of MJR’s Star Wars tune on the first fan club CD, Rarities and Demos, which has since sold out of its first pressing. SXW, the band’s revamped fan club, has relaunched and is now active.
The band began recording the drum tracks for the new album on September 9, 2014, and planned to release the complete recording by the spring of 2015. Michael Lepond stated they had ten songs written and that the album would contain either nine or all ten of them. He also stated all lyrics and instrumental tracks were composed and ready to be brought together, and that the album would be less heavy than Iconoclast: “If I had to compare, I would say that it’s a combination of The Odyssey and Paradise Lost — something in there. It has a lot of classic Symphony X elements in it, which I think a lot of our fans were missing for a few years. So I think our fans will really like this one. It really just focuses on solid songwriting.”
As of December 11, 2014, recording of the drums, lead vocals, rhythm guitar, and bass were complete. With the keyboards, guitar solos, background vocals, and some miscellaneous odds and ends being done in the coming weeks. On April 10, 2015 the band announced the mixing and mastering of the new album was complete. On May 18, 2015, the band announced the title of the album would be titled Underworld, and a release date of July 24, 2015. The first single from the album, “Nevermore“, premiered on May 22, 2015. The band released the second single, “Without You”, on June 19, 2015, and was made available for digital download.
According to singer Russell Allen, the band entered a short hiatus during 2017 in which they did not perform, due in part to his commitment to Adrenaline Mob, although it was announced during a January 2018 interview with Metal Nation that the band had plans to get together in the following months and begin writing a follow up to Underworld. On July 14, 2017, Adrenaline Mob was involved in a serious vehicular accident, which resulted in severe injuries for Allen and the death of the band’s bassist and their tour manager. In July 2018, according to Michael Romeo, the band hopes to re-group and make another album, but also said that he was giving Russell Allen some time and space after dealing with the aftermath of the accident, and also his touring commitments with Trans-Siberian Orchestra. In June 2019, Romeo was considering to make their tenth album after they’re done touring in August 2019.
Upcoming tenth studio album (2020–present)
During bassist LePond’s May 2020 interview with Metal Nation when asked about plans for him and the band, he had confirmed that the band was ready to start writing the tenth studio album, a follow-up to their 2015 album, Underworld as soon as the virus slowed down, and that writing would begin in about ‘a month or so’.
|The Damnation Game||Full-length||1995|
|The Divine Wings of Tragedy||Full-length||1996|
|Symphony X / Superior / Vanden Plas||Split||1997|
|Manowar / Vanden Plas / Symphony X / Rhapsody||Split||1998|
|Twilight in Olympus||Full-length||1998|
|Behind the Mask||Compilation||1998|
|Prelude to the Millennium – Essentials of Symphony||Compilation||1998|
|V: The New Mythology Suite||Full-length||2000|
|The Damnation Game / Twilight In Olympus||Compilation||2001|
|Live on the Edge of Forever||Live album||2001|
|Rarities and Demos||Compilation||2005|
|Forsaken / Set the World on Fire||Split||2007|
|The End of Innocence||Single||2011|