Symphony X @ Bottom Lounge, Chicago (US)

SYMPHONY X / POWERGLOVE / BLACKGUARD / EARTHEN GRAVE

Date: 01st May, 2011
Venue: The Bottom Lounge
Ticket: $30 (€20)
Promoter: n/a


This tour was in the verge of being cancelled mainly due NEVERMORE’s inevitably decision to quit after the recent well known events (two members left). In fact, the first bad sign for this tour was SOILWORK’s decision to take their name off the billing. Well, SYMPHONY X took the decision to go on and I believe by looking at the number of metalheads gathered at The Bottom Lounge made the right decision. There was an early start for the gig that almost sunny Sunday and the promoters thought to add a local band on the billing to make the package more enticing. And their choice was no other than EARTHEN GRAVE. Although, I have to admit I had second thoughts about their participation since bringing Doom Metal into a Progressive Metal headlining show can be risky.

There were some delays that evening and EARTHEN GRAVE did not have much time to soundcheck, so it was kind of expected to see the band struggling to start. Some problems in the drums pushed the time schedule a few minutes back so the Chicago based band had to start the setlist with a bump but also with the excellent cover on PENTAGRAM’s “Relentless”. The young audience did not have a single clue of what was happening onstage and was just observing. The band entered the stage in full force having a solid confidence to take the challenge and try to earn the crowd. “Fall In” followed and Mark Weiner was doing as much as possible to get some reaction from the ‘cold’ audience. Fortunately, his efforts proved worth and the following “Death On The High Seas” and “Dismal Times” got at least the front rows connected to the energy and the heaviness of the Chicago band. I think based on the conditions EARTHEN GRAVE did what it was possible and maybe earned some fans.

EARTHEN GRAVE setliist:

01. Relentless
02. Fall In
03. Death On The High Seas
04. Dismal Times

EARTHEN GRAVE

Earthen Grave @ Bottom Lounge, Chicago (US) Earthen Grave @ Bottom Lounge, Chicago (US) Earthen Grave @ Bottom Lounge, Chicago (US) Earthen Grave @ Bottom Lounge, Chicago (US)

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The next band on the billing was BLACKGUARD. From the moment the lights went out and the Canadian band stepped in, it became loud and clear how difficult was for EARTHEN GRAVE to make a difference. The audience reacted positively to the youngsters who took over The Bottom Lounge with fast riffs, jumping up and down grooves and to my disappointment almost metalcore vocals. Maybe, I had high expectations for their appearance since I think highly of their recent release “Firefight”. In that album the vocals are closer to the Gothenburg sound and less in the aforementioned mainstream scene. On the other hand, the Canadians added a lot of energy in their short setlist that was mainly based on the new album. Well, my opinion on the pre-recorded keyboards still stands but what could they  do? Apart from the singer’s metalcore attitude and the over-posing by the rest of the band, I enjoyed the new tracks Firefight”, “Farewell” and “Wasteland”. But, the delays had to take their toll also from BLACKGUARD so their setlist ended in about half an hour leaving the young metalheads satisfied and really warmed up.

BLACKGUARD setlist:

01. “Firefight”
02. “Farewell”
03. “Wasteland”
04. “Fear of All Flesh”

BLACKGUARD

Blackguard @ Bottom Lounge, Chicago (US) Blackguard @ Bottom Lounge, Chicago (US) Blackguard @ Bottom Lounge, Chicago (US) Blackguard @ Bottom Lounge, Chicago (US)

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POWERGLOVE were the last supporting band and there I was totally unaware of their doings. Nevertheless, the US band that has a name from the homonymous Nintendo game accessory (if you know this you must be in your 30s) showed up wearing almost GWAR looking gear and were welcomed with enthusiasm. Apparently, this band plays instrumental music that is based on famous tv games. Strange you might think but I assure you they sounded heavy and kind of interesting. “X-Men”, “Mortal Kombat” and “Pokemon” were some of the games that were featured in the band’s setlist. I should say I had a good time watching them and especially the guitar duo amazed me with the shredding super fast played riffs. Also, it was surreal watching the mosh-pit formed under the sounds of the “Pokemon” theme...

POWERGLOVE setlist:

01. "X-Men"
02. "Storm Eagle"
03. "Metal Kombat For The Mortal Man"
04. "Omnishred (We're Gonna Need a Bigger Sword)"
05. "Pokemon"
06. "Mario Minor"

POWERGLOVE

Powerglove @ Bottom Lounge, Chicago (US) Powerglove @ Bottom Lounge, Chicago (US) Powerglove @ Bottom Lounge, Chicago (US) Powerglove @ Bottom Lounge, Chicago (US)

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But it was about time to have the headliners that I knew they had a die-hard fan base in Chicago. I have watched this band live something more than two years ago in the US and then I got my first impression about the US SYMPHONY X fan foundations.

I already knew that the New Jersey based act would not change the setlist for reasons that Mike Romeo explained to me and you will find out when the interview goes online. So, right on schedule the lights dimmed and the pompous intro brought SYMPHONY X with “Of Sins And Shadows”. The first thing I noticed was that the sound was louder than usual and this was kind of annoying despite the fact that it remained clear.

One more time Russell proved to be a great frontman and won the crowd right from the start. His moves and grimaces combined with his great vocals are all the values a singer of a Metal band should have if he wants to succeed. “Domination” and my favourite “Serpent’s Kiss” came with not pause and blew everyone away. It is amazing watching Mike Romeo performing with his signature guitar giving the false impression that is a walk in the park playing those riffs... yeah right!

Russel took some breathes and talked about the difficulties of this tour and introduced a brand new song “End Of Innocence” from the yet unreleased album. This one has been streaming online for quite some  time so I was quite excited to listen to it live. And it was great! The keyboard melody and the groovy rhythm sounded heavier than the usual SYMPHONY X tracks and if you don’t mind my saying a little bit modern. Russel followed the “industrial” feeling of this track by using some robot-like moves that were the icing on the cake. Next, it was time to “visit” the previous album that had a great success in the US; so, “Paradise Lost” came and I got impressed by the audience’s reaction. Everyone started singing the lyrics accompanying Russel in his passionate performance.

The band kept following a tight schedule with minimal breaks following the selist they had rehearsed before NEVERMORE and SOILWORK decided to step off the train. I am not saying this in a negative way but a more “relaxed” setlist would enhance the joy of the gig. The next stop in the soon to be released album was “Dehumanized” that was heavier than the first one and also had a dark atmosphere in it that I really liked.

“Set The World On Fire (The Lie of Lies)” climaxed the show and put an end to the regular set that I think the band used in the first live dates with NEVERMORE on the billing. The moment the band stepped off everyone started shouting for “The Odyssey” for the encore. And SYMPHONY X did respond to the calling and Russel showed up and explained their intentions to continue the tour and said that since they had additional time they should challenge themselves by playing a 26 minutes long song; “The Odyssey”. And so they did! They played their entire song giving an extra treat for all those fans who were not turned off by the crippled billing.

So, this was a great live with different musical tastes that satisfied 100% the wide age range (ok, the young metalheads were more).  SYMPHONY X promised to return in the US after the release of the album and judging by the fans’ reaction they should!

SYMPHONY X setlist:

01. “Of Sins And Shadows”
02. “Domination”
03. “Serpent's Kiss”
04. “End Of Innocence”
05. “Paradise Lost”
06. “Smoke And Mirrors”
07. “Eve Of Seduction”
08. “Dehumanized”
09. “Set The World On Fire (The Lie of Lies)”
10. “The Odyssey”

SYMPHONY X

Symphony X @ Bottom Lounge, Chicago (US) Symphony X @ Bottom Lounge, Chicago (US) Symphony X @ Bottom Lounge, Chicago (US)
Symphony X @ Bottom Lounge, Chicago (US) Symphony X @ Bottom Lounge, Chicago (US) Symphony X @ Bottom Lounge, Chicago (US)

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