Adagio - Underworld
Nothing To Say - WAGRAM
Progressive / Symphonic Neo-Classical Metal
9 songs (70'07)
Release year: 2003
Adagio
Reviewed by Marty
Album of the month
Adagio, an actual musical term meaning "in a slow tempo", is the brainchild of French guitar wizard Stephan Forte. Playing the guitar since he was 5 years old, meeting Yngwie Malmsteen many years ago was the catalyst to propel this outstanding musician into fine tuning his craft both with constant playing as well as professional studies. Recruiting musicians for his first album, Sanctus Ignis didn't seem to be much of a problem as all those who were approached immediately came aboard after hearing some of the demo recordings. The line-up for Adagio on this, their new album entitled Underworld is the same as for the first album except that keyboardist Richard Andersson (Majestic, Time Requiem) has been replaced by the young keyboard wizard, Kevin Godfert. Rounding out the line-up is vocalist David Readmann (Pink Cream 69), bassist Franck Hermanny and drummer Dirk Bruinberg (Elegy).

With Underworld, Adagio has succeeded in producing a truly outstanding symphonic progressive and classical music influenced metal album. Many bands experiment with this sort of sound with varied and often laughable results. Rainbow in the 1970's and later Yngwie Malmsteen in the 1980's really laid the groundwork for this type of classical music influenced metal and Yngwie's first 3 albums (especially Rising Force and Trilogy) were very influential in pushing the limits of metal music into incorporating not only classical music pieces but a sound and structure that was very much influenced by many of the classic composers. I believe that in this day and age, the torch has now been passed to Stephane Forte and Adagio.

Combining all the elements of Yngwie style neo-classical metal along with the technical dynamics of bands like Dream Theater all mixed in with some de-tuned chunky heavy Symphony X style riffing, Adagio is a band that has succeeded in creating an exciting brand of metal music that is both dramatic and full of emotion and atmosphere. Lots of tempo changes make this album far from predictable and every track (except for the instrumental Niflheim) has great melodic vocal lines and choruses that really send me back to Yngwie's Trilogy album and the excellent vocals of Mark Boals.

Unlike other supposed "symphonic" metal bands, Adagio uses real orchestration courtesy of the Avignon Symphony Orchestra and the chanting choir sections are provided by The Ensemble Vocal de Lyon. The combination of the orchestration and the choirs give a haunting presence to some of the songs and never seems out of place or unnecessary. Speedy power metal sections can be found sprinkled throughout but before the Rhapsody comparison comes to mind, besides the orchestration and choirs, this band bears very little resemblance. Lots of very technical riffing can be found throughout and the effective use of synthesizer both as a lead instrument and for effects, really adds depth to the band. Lots of great solo piano work on several tracks really adds to the atmosphere as well. Stephane's lead playing is very technical in the Yngwie style but is much more expressive and warm with emotion. Some songs feature very little along the lines of shredding leads, opting for more atmospheric and expressive soloing.

Solid riffs, great vocal melodies and choruses all combined with the perfect blend of classical music and choirs creates an exciting album to listen to and one that captured my interest right away. The atmosphere and mood even reminds me of the glory days of Yes and albums like Close To The Edge. All the accents are in the right place and everything fits and after several listens, I'm in awe of what I hear. Simply put, this is one of the best neo-classical symphonic progressive metal albums to come out in many years and as far as a progressive metal album in general, rivals the awesome Odyssey album by Symphony X released earlier this year. A stunning production by a truly stunning band and a buy or die for any progressive metal fan....believe it!!

Killing Songs :
Next Profundis, Introitis Selvet Saeclum In Fadilla, Chosen, Underworld and The Mirror Stage
Marty quoted 94 / 100
Other albums by Adagio that we have reviewed:
Adagio - Archangels In Black reviewed by Khelek and quoted 85 / 100
Adagio - Dominate reviewed by Al and quoted 92 / 100
Adagio - Sanctus Ignis reviewed by Sin and quoted 91 / 100
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