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Interviews   

Symphony X: An album saved from the darkness


Michael Romeo - Symphony X“It used to be better” is something you hear with every new generation. Nobody can deny the music industry is changing; it has already changed, and some will say it hasn’t always been for the best. Faced with a trend of quick listening over which the single format reigns supreme, we can legitimately wonder what will become of the album format. Not the album as a collection of songs, mind you – the album as a carefully thought-out piece, as an indivisible whole. The kind that takes you on a small trip, or indeed a big journey you’ll remember years after, every time you listen to it. Does this type of album still have a future? Will so-called “classics” still exist in the years to come? Do they even exist nowadays?

That’s the kind of questions Symphony X tried to answer when they wrote their new album, Underworld. We in metal are lucky: our artists are still very much attached to that generous format, which allows them to develop their creativity. But what guitarist Michael Romeo really wanted was to consciously craft that format, taking inspiration in great albums that have gone down in history.

That’s in part what we talk about in the following interview, as well as the origin and the conception of this album, inspired by themes straight out of Dante’s Inferno or the myth of Orpheus, and peppered with references to the number three.

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Interviews   

Mike Lepond: basso continuo


Are bassists the outcasts of metal musicians? The legend says they’re always under-mixed on albums, or consigned to the background on stage, while guitarists get all the credit. But the history of rock, hard rock and heavy metal is crammed with bassists who have established themselves as motors, sometimes even leaders: Steve Harris, Geddy Lee, Geezer Butler, Nikki Sixx, Roger Waters, etc. According to Mike Lepond, Symphony X’s discreet bass player, who released his first solo album Silent Assassins last year, although the bassist is not the first musician to draw attention in a band, it is his or her responsibility to put him- or herself in the spotlight, to distance him- or herself from the guitars and drums, and to bring in that little “extra” element to the music, just like any other musician.

Lepond talks about his brief spell as a solo artist, from the idea to the conception of the record, but also about bass, a supposedly obscure instrument that no rock or metal song could possibly do without. There’s even room for virtuoso performances, as the man has brilliantly proven during his career.

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