“We’ve been around for a long time. Well, not a looong time,” mused Symphony X singer Russell Allen from the stage at The Fillmore. Symphony X hasn’t been around as long as many of the works of classical literature that inspire their albums, nor have they been around as long as their co-headlining tour mates, thrash metal stalwarts Overkill, but there is something to be said for the longevity of great art, and both Symphony X and Overkill deserve to have their specific longevity credited.
While both bands might not have reached the longevity levels of classic lit, or in this case even each other, they’ve definitely reached a comparable status in the annals of contemporary metal.
Overkill and Symphony X might seem like an odd pairing for a concert tour. Their styles of metal are quite different. Both bands have much more in common with each other than is evident at first listen, or glance, excluding the fact that both bands are from New Jersey. Both bands have a certain level of theatricality to them that is in its most base sense “total metal” and in the highest, hauntingly sublime. Dark outfits, heavy guitar, smoke machine fog and dim lighting drench their performances and stage presence. Serious, sometimes disturbing, but never vilely advocative of anything sinister, lyrics abound and themes of sin, redemption, temptation, as well as the glories of heaven and the dark depths of hell are woven throughout their works. What else would you expect from a band whose latest, and best, album is inspired by Dante’s Inferno and Orpheus’ Underworld Journey from classical Greek mythology and the lead singer of a thrash metal band who admits to Canterbury Tales as being an influence on some of his earlier work?
After a short, but strong, set by local metal band Kairos, whose style ably represented contemporary metal trends (i.e. growling vocals, heavy 7 string guitar riffs, and very little theatricality), Overkill took the stage, which was covered in smoke machine fog and an eerie greenish light (fitting for a metal show taking place a scant few weeks before Halloween). There was nothing eerie about Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth’s opening greeting and consistently positive and appreciative banter with the crowd throughout though.
He reminded the crowd a few times that “I’m the boss here,” but also that he and the band were there to work hard for their loyal fans in attendance that night by putting on the only show that matters: the one happening right now. One of the best moments of the show wasn’t their phenomenal performance of “Bitter Pill” off their newest album White Devil Armory (and arguably the best song off said album), it was when Bobby came off the stage to personally hand off one of Derek “The Skull” Tailer’s picks to the young metal head in training along the front row, who was there with what appeared to be his dad.
Overkill has been pumping out the best pure thrash metal of the past three decades and they are very well aware that it’s their current fans, and the new fan’s being made in the next generation that have allowed (and will continue to allow) them to keep pumping out the best pure thrash metal of the past three decades, and they are damn appreciative of it.
Symphony X was no less appreciative of their fans and supporters than Overkill was. Russell Allen also displayed a healthy admiration of fellow band mate and guitar virtuoso Michael Romeo. Allen commanded him to the center stage with all the slithery swank that he mustered forth for the crowd while in devilish character.
It was a swank and seductive theatricality that oozed devilish intent and came off as an odd mixture of Zoo TV era Bono and Jim Morrison, but way more Satan-like. It was a stage persona that made perfect sense though since Symphony X performed the first half of their newest album Underworld, many of the songs of which are written from the perspective of the devils of The Divine Comedy, as well as “Set the World on Fire” and “Serpent’s Kiss” from their 2007 album Paradise Lost, which was inspired by the epic poem of the same name, and are both written from the perspective of The Miltonic Satan of Paradise Lost. Symphony X ran through a litany of songs from throughout their career and didn’t just focus on their newest material though.
The previous 20 plus years as a band have allowed Symphony X to build up quite a catalogue of impressive prog metal (as well as more straightforward metal) songs that will surely ensure their legacy as one of the best metal bands to ever have recorded, even 20 plus years from now.
Great art, like great experiences, can have a very long life in the mind of the reader, listener, or participant. The Overkill/Symphony X show last week at the Fillmore NC was one of those great moments created by the collision of great classically inspired music, grateful and appreciative artists, and enthusiastically participating fans. It was a work of art that had to be experienced, and a concert that quite simply rocked in every conceivable way on way more levels than it could have.
Some more photos of the night – See full gallery here.
See Symphony X on tour:
See Overkill on tour:
|Dec 05||Clash Club||Sao Paulo, Brazil||Tickets||RSVP||Share|
|Dec 06||Espaço Cult||Curitiba, Brazil||Tickets||RSVP||Share|
|Apr 05||The Rainbow Warehouse||Birmingham, United Kingdom||Tickets||RSVP||Share|
|Apr 06||Sound Control||Manchester, United Kingdom||Tickets||RSVP||Share|
|Apr 07||Leeds Uni Stylus||Leeds, United Kingdom||Tickets||RSVP||Share|
|Apr 08||The Classic Grand||Glasgow, United Kingdom||Tickets||RSVP||Share|
|Apr 09||The Limelight||Belfast, United Kingdom||Tickets||RSVP||Share|
|Apr 10||The Academy||Dublin, Ireland||Tickets||RSVP||Share|
|Apr 12||The Fleece||Bristol, United Kingdom||Tickets||RSVP||Share|
|Apr 13||O2 Academy Islington||London, United Kingdom||Tickets||RSVP||Share|
|Apr 14||Gebr. de Nobel||Leiden, Netherlands||Tickets||RSVP||Share|