On the night of October 3rd, I once again found myself at the Mod Club in Toronto, a venue that I’m becoming quite fond of. This time, it was playing host to New Jersey’s legendary prog-power metal outfit, Symphony X.
To start the evening off, local boys Pyramid Theorem put on a good show, drummer Vito De Francesco (or Vic Dee, depending on which page you consult) entertaining the crowd with flying sticks and the appearance of an enthusiastic nu metal drummer. His energy and showmanship made my night, with the help of some tight rolls and an uneven double kick that gave the band a healthy dose of rawness. Whatever the first song of their set list was, it was great, and far more technical than I had expected. The following piece made me think of Rush covering AC/DC, which I found amusing to say the least. Regardless, I enjoyed their set, and I wish these guys the best of luck on their upcoming album release.
Next came Gone In April from Tennessee, although evidently most of the members are originally Canadian. While the crowd went wild, I found them to be your average symphonic metal band, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing — but the combination of female operatic vocals and the guy who just growled sounded like Evanescence meets Nightwish. Do what you will with that. Frontwoman and violinist Julie Bélanger Roy had a very nice voice, but despite the headbanging attempts, seemed like she should be applying her talents to playing the Good Witch of the North on Broadway rather than singing for a metal band. Half-way through their set, I noticed how solid bassist Steve Di Giorgio was, and from then on decided to focus on his skillful grooves.
Finally, it was time for Symphony X. They played everything off of the newest album, ‘Underworld’, plus a few older songs, including an encore of “Set The World On Fire” (although the crowd chanted “Odyssey!” for several minutes, causing singer Russell Allen to come out and tell them that it wasn’t going to happen). Earlier in the set, there was a problem with Allen’s microphone, but while the issues were being fixed, the whole crowd sang along, filling in the gap. At one point, Allen indulged the crowd in an explanation of the concept of ‘Underworld’, telling the story of a man who goes through hell to find his girlfriend. Toward the end of the show, he also made a speech about metalheads, and how the community should stick together and love each other — but that’s probably because he wasn’t in the middle of the sudden bursts of moshing. In all seriousness, it was a moving notion, and made the encore even more epic for the fans down below. And let’s not forget the shredding talents of Michael Romeo, who never missed an opportunity to blow the crowd away.
Symphony X is one of those bands that will keep on writing and performing, and doing it well, despite the decades of wailing and flailing. Then again, heavy metal legends always endure the test of time — from Bach, to Iron Maiden, to Symphony X.