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November 2003
Released: n/a, NTS
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: JP

Wow! This is fundamentally different from SANCTUS IGNUS…by a million miles. They are so different in fact I was unsure I was still listening to the same band. Is that an improvement? It is hard to say as the two styles are so very different it is unfair to adequately compare two albums that the same in name only.

Underworld is heavily influenced by classical music, soundtracks and laden with orchestral arrangements. I’m not talking simple, computerized violins of some neo-classical speed metal bands, I’m talking full-blown over the top orchestra stuff. Now mix in classic traditional metal with Yngwie-esque soling and you have a real winning combination.

The melodic vocals of this act are intact as David (Pink Cream 69) is back on board sounding as good as ever. He could easily sing for Yngwie. Oddly enough there enough choirs that at times he takes a back seat. Speaking of PC 69, the album is superbly produced by Denis Ward again, making it a delightful experience. It must have been a nightmare to mix all those elements into a cohesive package.

The whole album is long, it feels long with eight songs hitting over an hour, with only one cut, ‘Promises’ staying under six minutes. The title track is a monster at over 13 minutes long. This dense album has acoustic piano, choirs (real ones) keyboards, lots of guitar flourishes, keyboard flashes and a big beefy soundtrack feel. Real Germanic opera, Twilight of the Gods type stuff.

The secret that founder and driving force Stephan Forte has discovered is that when making this kind of album it HAS to be heavy enough to offset the enormous amount of non-metal material. Next it has to be integrated seamlessly, which is damn hard to do because ramming the worlds of classical and metal together does not work as evidence by failed attempts by bands like Metallica. Fortunately, Forte has done both…this album is in parts actually heavier and faster than Sanctus, lots of double kick work, lots of blazing solos, soaring vocals and then bang…a huge swell of a choir or orchestra. The songs have enough kick to get your attention and enough flair to keep it. Darker and meaner than Sanctus, a couple of tracks actually feature blast beats and guest vocals from Hreimarr, lead throat of Black Metal band Anorexia Nervosa.

What a fantastic experiment. Adagio have taken neo-classical experi-metal to a whole new level in what maybe one of the most adventurous and rewarding CD’s of the year. People will be talking about this for years to come as innovative and interesting.
Track Listing

1. Next Profundis

2. Introitus/Solvent
Saeclum In Favilla

3. Chosen

4. From My Sleep…To Someone Else

5. Underworld

6. Promises

7. The Mirror Stage

8. Niflheim


David Readman-Vocals
Stephen Forte-Guitar
Kevin Codfert-Keyboards
Franck Hermany-Bass
Dirk Bruinenberg-Drums



Other reviews

» Sanctus Ignis
by EvilG

» Underworld
by JP

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