Supergroup Flying Colors will be releasing their brand new live album, ‘Third Stage: Live in London,’ on 18th September via Music Theories Recordings – home to Ayreon, Jordan Rudess, Von Hertzen Brothers, Michael Romeo, Jason Becker, Paul Gilbert and Spock’s Beard.

Third Stage: Live in London‘ was filmed during their 2019 US and European tour and the footage captures the exhilarating sold-out final night, on the 14th December at the iconic Grade II Listed, Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London. The album will be released on several formats including, Orange transparent 3LP, Blu-ray, digitally, 2CD/DVD and a 40-page Earbook which includes 5 discs; 2CD album, 2DVDs and a Blu-ray. The Blu-ray and DVDs in the Earbook also include bonus material of music videos and concert footage of their Morsefest 2019 performance in Cross Plains, Tennessee.

When you combine the calibre of supergroup musicians – guitarist Steve Morse (Deep Purple, Dixie Dregs, ex-Kansas), drummer Mike Portnoy (Winery Dogs, ex-Dream Theater, Transatlantic), keyboardist/vocalist Neal Morse (Transatlantic, ex Spock’s Beard, and a prolific solo artist in his own right), bassist Dave LaRue (Dixie Dregs, ex-Joe Satriani), and powerhouse vocalist and songwriter Casey McPherson (Alpha Rev, The Sea Within) – the results are going to be lightning in a bottle.

They had only played 9 exclusive shows on the tour, culminating at the sold-out show in London, which saw Portnoy stand up mid-set and quip, “Welcome to the rarest of all sightings, rarer than a UFO sighting, rarer than a sasquatch sighting. A Flying Colors sighting, here on stage in London. This is a very sad night for us because it is the last night of the tour and we don’t get to play together enough, so we’re going to savour every moment tonight and enjoy each and every moment here on stage.

Their latest studio album ‘Third Degree‘ had only been released two months previously, and songs from that record make up just under half to the night’s setlist with the rest of the songs coming from the 2012 self-titled Billboard Top 10 debut and 2014s worldwide Top 10, ‘Second Nature.’ Backed with a HD projector screen, the five take the stage in the darkness amidst a rumble of applause and immediately groove into opener ‘Blue Ocean,’ and from the outset, their technical virtuosity, joyous melodies and reflective lyricism wash over the crowd proving to be the cornerstones of the Flying Colors sound.

Talking about walking out on the stage, McPherson recalls; “I remember how I felt right before the show in London. I was excited because my oldest daughter and her grandmother was there, whom I love dearly, and felt like I had the show, down by then. It’s always a good feeling to take the stage when the material is ingrained enough to just let go and let it out!

They flow into the melodic progressive wonderment of ‘A Place In Your World,’ featuring guitar heroics from Steve Morse before they shift up a gear further for a duo of thunderous new songs, ‘The Loss Inside,’ and the almost rousingly apocalyptic sounding ‘More‘ – it’s this that makes them so special, the ability to weave through several genres simultaneously.

The sight of LaRue and Portnoy bouncing off one another is a gloriously effortless sight to behold, whilst the wizardry of Neal Morse throughout is hypnotic. The band flit nimble-fingered through complex yet musical treasure-trove of accessible and sophisticated pop songs, jazz-fusion, progressive-rock and multi-layered vocals from Macpherson, Neal Morse and Portnoy – giving the band added dimensions, many can only dream of. ‘Kayla‘ lights up the room and makes the 100-year-old theatre feel like the most intimate of settings.

From its opening in 1903 as a Music Hall, hosting variety performances and revues from the likes of Charlie Chaplin the venue has been a captivating one. The Shepherd’s Bush Empire was designed by architect Frank Matchem, who also designed the world-famous Palladium, Victoria Palace Theatre and London Coliseum. Its mix of stunning Art Nouveau and Baroque style creates a luscious backdrop to the spiralling psychedelic progressive pop stylings of this supergroup. “The Shepherd’s Bush Empire is a classic theatre. Little nooks and crannies backstage, and that ornate vibe in the hall. Great people to work with which always makes for a fun gig,” says McPherson.

As the camera weaves from cascading light effects and a captivating video backdrop to the view from the stage, sweeping above the crowd and along the lavish balconies, it’s visually stunning and as the band journey through their back catalogue it at times creates an almost spiritual awakening and has you hooked through further crowd favourites such as ‘Geronimo,’ ‘Infinite Fire‘ and new songs alike until it reaches its triumphant finale ‘Mask Machine.’

Playing in Flying Colors is like being in a movie,” says the singer. “It’s so incredibly powerful emotionally, and to think this was going to be the last show was a bittersweet feeling. I love the other guys in the band and we always have such a good time on the road together. Our Chemistry is like really good sushi. There’s not one ingredient you could replace and it taste that good. It is one of the kindest and uniquely unified band’s I’ve ever been in.

Third Stage: Live In London‘ captures the band in all their uncompromising glory, five musicians that when they come together prove that they have a special and breath-taking connection. In the words of Mr. Portnoy, it’s the “rarest of all sightings,” but what a sight to behold.

On September 18, Flying Colors will also re-issue the ‘Flying Colors‘ and ‘Second Nature‘ albums on Light Blue 2LP, both limited to 1000 units.

Track Listing
CD1:

1. Blue Ocean
2. A Place In Your World
3. The Loss Inside
4. More
5. Kayla
6. Geronimo
7. You Are Not Alone
8. Forever In A Daze
9. Love Letter

CD 2:
1. Peaceful Harbor
2. Crawl
3. Infinite Fire
4. Cosmic Symphony
5. The Storm
6. Mask Machine

Ayreon will be releasing a brand-new sprawling and epic studio album ‘Transitus,’ on 25th September via Music Theories Recordings. The album will be available on 2CD, 2LP gatefold red transparent vinyl and a 48-page Earbook which includes 5 discs; 2CD album, 1CD instrumental versions, 1CD guide vocal versions, and a DVD with bonus footage which includes a behind the scenes video, a videoclip, trailer and a 5.1 audio and hi-def stereo mix of the album. The release will be accompanied by a 28-page graphic novel which will be included in the Earbook as well as the 2LP. The physical pre-order will launch on June 25, where digital will go live on July 16.

In 2017 Ayreon released ‘The Source,’ which revisited the ‘Forever/Planet Y‘ saga, but now three years later it is time for something completely different…

The year is 1884, these are dark, troubled times, fraught with greed, envy and prejudice…” begins our narrator and storyteller, Tom Baker

Transitus‘ is built around an entirely new story, not connected to the Ayreon universe although as always it does have some subtle links. The sci-fi theme makes way for a gothic ghost story set (partly) in the 19th century with elements of horror and the supernatural. It’s on a dark thunderous night where our story of Abby and Daniel begins.

From the mastermind of Dutch multi-instrumentalist Arjen Lucassen, ‘Transitus‘ is inspired by supernatural movies such as The Others, The Changeling and Ghost along with the music of soundtrack composers John Carpenter (Halloween), Ennio Morricone (Once upon a Time in the West) and Jerry Goldsmith (Omen). “And of course I revisited all my favourite rock operas such as JC Superstar, Tommy, War of the Worlds and the Wall,” Lucassen adds.

Transitus‘ is narrated by one of the most iconic and recognizable voices in sci-fi history, most known from his eight-year stint as Doctor Who, Tom Baker. “I was looking for a real storyteller with a mature, deep, warm voice. As a kid, I was a huge Doctor Who fan and my favourite doctor was Tom Baker. I couldn’t believe my luck when he agreed to do it! We went to the UK to record him, and it was one of those unforgettable experiences.

As with any Ayreon album, it is an explosive and expansive affair and features Tommy Karevik (Kamelot) as Daniel and Cammie Gilbert (Oceans of Slumber) as Abby. The all-star cast also features Simone Simons (Epica), Dee Snider (Twisted Sister), Joe Satriani, Marty Friedman, Johanne James (Threshold), Noa Gruman (Scardust), Marcela Bovio (MaYan), Caroline Westendorp (The Charm the Fury), Paul Manzi (Arena), Michael Mills (Toehider) and Amanda Somerville (Avantasia, Trilium) amongst many others.

When I started this I just had no idea that it was going to take me this long! It took about 3 years from start to finish, and it pushed me out of my comfort zone musically and creatively. But I always need that challenge, the harder it is, the more fun for me to work on it!” comments Lucassen.

Through all the extravaganzas that flow through his discography, ‘Transitus‘ is Lucassen’s most ambitious work yet, “This is without a doubt the most cinematic and outrageous album I’ve ever done,” he affirms.

Continuing he adds; “I always start with finding singers first before I write the vocal parts, because I write the parts specifically for their vocal strengths. Because I was going for a theatrical feel for this album, this time I picked the singers not just because they are amazing singers, but because they had a certain charisma and were able to act.

Transitus‘ is accompanied by an amazing graphic novel drawn by the renowned artist Felix Vega. “Because Ayreon‘s music is so visual, I’ve always wanted to do an Ayreon graphic novel/comic book,” he says.

Reflecting on the approach to ‘Transitus‘ he says, “I love my last Ayreon album ‘The Source‘. I often say that it sounds so much like Ayreon… if someone else would have released it I could have sued them for copyright infringement and won easily! But “our genre” is called progressive, which for me means breaking new ground and experimenting musically. So in the true prog spirit, I set out to try something entirely different than a “typical Ayreon,” I wanted to do something more theatrical, almost like a musical.”

Track listing:

CD1
01. Fatum Horrificum (A] Graveyard, B] 1884, C] Daniel And Abby, D] Fatum, E] Why?!, F] Guilty)
02. Daniel’s Descent Into Transitus
03. Listen To My Story
04. Two Worlds Now One
05. Talk Of The Town
06. Old Friend
07. Dumb Piece Of Rock
08. Get Out! Now!
09. Seven Days, Seven Nights

CD2
01. Condemned Without A Trial
02. Daniel’s Funeral
03. Hopelessly Slipping Away
04. This Human Equation.
05. Henry’s Plot
06. Message From Beyond
07. Daniel’s Vision
08. She Is Innocent
09. Lavinia’s Confession
10. Inferno
11. Your Story Is Over!
12. Abby In Transitus
13. The Great Beyond

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Jake Shimabukuro has been redefining what the ukulele is capable of for the last 20 years, and on 14 February 2020, he returns with his new album ‘Trio‘, his first on Music Theories Recordings, a division of Mascot Label Group.

It was nearly 15 years ago that the world first caught notice of the stunning musical artistry of Jake Shimabukuro. The young ukulele player’s gorgeous rendition of George Harrison’s ballad ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ whilst sat in Central Park, became one of the most-watched clips on the then newly launched YouTube platform, and now sits at 16.5m+ views. “People call me ‘an ambassador for the ukulele,’ but I really don’t see myself that way,” Shimabukuro says. “I’m simply a fan of the instrument. Ever since I was a kid, I just loved playing it, and over time, I started to realize that you could do more than just play traditional songs on it. You can play heavy metal riffs and make different sounds. You can make it rock like an electric guitar. There’s no end to what you can do on the ukulele, and it’s been rewarding for me to show that to people all over the world. I still love and respect traditional music, but I also enjoy exploring other sounds on the instrument.” 

The ‘Jimi Hendrix of the Ukulele’ has gone on to appear on some of the biggest national TV shows in the world including Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Carson Daly, The Today Show and BBC Breakfast. There has also been a documentary made on him, entitled ‘Life On Four Strings,’ and he has dedicated many years to non-profit charity organizations to create outreach programs and educational workshops to schools.

Along with the announcement, Jake Shimabukuro will be releasing his brilliant version of Pink Floyd’s classic ‘Wish You Were Here‘.

Flying Colors’ brand new album ‘Third Degree’ is out out now via Music Theories Recordings, a division of Mascot Label Group.

In chemistry, when certain galvanizing elements come together, they become quite explosive. In music, when certain galvanizing artists come together, they become Flying Colors. In fact, whenever the five gentlemen who encompass Flying Colors — guitarist Steve Morse (Deep Purple, Dixie Dregs, ex-Kansas), drummer Mike Portnoy (Winery Dogs, ex-Dream Theater, Transatlantic), keyboardist/vocalist Neal Morse (Transatlantic, ex-Spock’s Beard, and a prolific solo artist in his own right), bassist Dave LaRue (Dixie Dregs, ex-Joe Satriani), and powerhouse vocalist and songwriter Casey McPherson (Alpha Rev, The Sea Within) — are able to conjoin their collective talents, the result is a sweet sonic bouillabaisse that reflects where their inherent mastery of melody intersects with top-shelf progressive musicianship.

And now, Flying Colors soar to even loftier heights with ‘Third Degree’, their third studio album in a decade. ‘Third Degree’ builds upon the genre-bending momentum of 2012’s self-titled Flying Colors and the aural-template ascension of 2014’s ‘Second Nature‘. From the skittery psychedelic/classical turnaround of the lead single ‘More‘ to the Beach Boys-meet-Asia vibe of ‘Love Letter‘ to the deep emotionality of the album-ending, prog-leaning epic ‘Crawl,’ the nine tracks that comprise ‘Third Degree‘ signify just how much Flying Colors are willing to explore new frontiers. “There’s a lot of ear candy sprinkled throughout every song,” observes Mike Portnoy, “and each one takes you on a little journey. As albums go, Third Degree is a complete piece that I don’t think ever overstays its welcome. I think it’s an enjoyable ride from start to finish.

It continues to build upon the deep-rooted musical connection the members of Flying Colors established on their first two boundary-stretching albums. “There’s a real special chemistry between the five of us,” Portnoy confirms. “We keep getting better and better as we get more comfortable and more familiar with each other, and the music itself keeps getting more and more mature.” Adds Steve Morse, “This one, dare I say it, explores new ground for the band. One of my favorites, ‘Geronimo,’ has an upbeat, jazzy, heavy, melodic feel all at once. We just do what makes us smile and sounds good, instead of wondering how critics or program directors will like it. It makes for the best music!
Casey McPherson concurs with his fellow bandmates by noting, “What Third Degree really proves to me is that we have our own sound. There are no egos in this band, and we all want the best parts to come out, which is such a joy for me to participate in. I think that really allows people’s uniqueness to show through.

The first sessions for the record took place at Steve Morse’s studio in Florida in December 2016, wherein seven songs were written. From there, the band members had to scatter back to their other personal and professional obligations, eventually reconvening two full years later in December 2018, when three more tracks were added to the overall Third Degree mix. (The tenth track, ‘Waiting for the Sun,’ will be made available in forthcoming special editions.)

As a songwriter, McPherson is never afraid to confront his feelings head-on, whether it’s the nostalgic bent of ‘Last Train Home‘ or the raw, relatable universality of ‘You Are Not Alone.’

Another progression has been the band’s use of technology to provide industry-leading sound. Third Degree was engineered with the award-winning Harmonic Phrase Analysis and Restoration (HPAR) technology. Developed by the band’s resident mad scientist, Bill Evans, he created HPAR based on the group’s performance styles — resulting in unprecedented fidelity. Flying Colors regular producer Rich Mouser (The Neal Morse Band, Transatlantic) then crafted a sumptuous mix in his inimitable style.

Flying Colors will be releasing their brand new album ‘Third Degree’ on 4th October via Music Theories Recordings, a division of Mascot Label Group.

The latest video released is the album opener ‘The Loss Inside‘. Speaking about the track, Singer Casey McPherson explains “We all go through loss, and the grieving process often comes in waves, I love how musically and lyrically this song represents that process for me.”

The first sessions for ‘Third Degree‘ took place at Steve Morse’s studio in Florida in December 2016, wherein seven songs were written. From there, the band members had to scatter back to their other personal and professional obligations, eventually reconvening two full years later in December 2018.

The future of Flying Colors looks bright as Portnoy adds. “Our mission statement when we came together is still the same now,” he affirms. “It’s the same five guys with extremely different musical personalities and backgrounds coming together into a giant melting pot where it all comes out on the other end with music that’s accessible, melodic, deep, and colorful. That’s always been the goal of this band, and so far, I think we’re three for three.

With ‘Third Degree‘, Flying Colors continue to fire on all cylinders — and, in the process, they also handily prove the third time’s an unquestionable sonic charm.

Track listing:

1. The Loss Inside
2. More
3. Cadence
4. Guardian
5. Last Train Home
6. Geronimo
7. You Are Not Alone
8. Love Letter
9. Crawl

Deluxe CD Bonus Disc
1. Waiting For The Sun (Unreleased Bonus Studio Track)
2. Geronimo (Alternate Instrumental Arrangement & Mix)
3. You Are Not Alone (Alternate Instrumental Arrangement & Mix)
4. Love Letter (Alternate Instrumental Arrangement & Mix)
5. Last Train Home (Alternate Instrumental Arrangement & Mix)
6. Crawl (Alternate Instrumental Arrangement & Mix)

Flying Colors will be releasing their brand new album ‘Third Degree‘ on 4th October via Music Theories Recordings, a division of Mascot Label Group.

The third video released from the album is ‘Love Letter‘ on which Neil Morse says; “Love Letter was definitely a labor of love by all of us. I love the shared lead and background vocals and Steve’s guitar solo is great of course. It’s a really nice lighter side of the band especially when compared to some of the heavier things that are on the Third Degree record. Very happy with this one! Kudos to Christian Rios for a great psychedelic lyric video!

Adding, Mike Portnoy says, “Love Letter shows the pop side of Flying Colors that we always try to incorporate. I love that all 3 of us share the lead vocals on this one: Casey on verse 1, Neal on verse 2, myself on the bridge and all three of us on the Choruses… The animated video really captures the old psychedelic technicolor pop 60’s & 70’s vibe of the song and is absolutely one my favorite videos I’ve ever been a part of!

The first sessions for ‘Third Degree‘ took place at Steve Morse‘s studio in Florida in December 2016, wherein seven songs were written. From there, the band members had to scatter back to their other personal and professional obligations, eventually reconvening two full years later in December 2018.

The future of Flying Colors looks bright as Portnoy adds. “Our mission statement when we came together is still the same now,” he affirms. “It’s the same five guys with extremely different musical personalities and backgrounds coming together into a giant melting pot where it all comes out on the other end with music that’s accessible, melodic, deep, and colorful. That’s always been the goal of this band, and so far, I think we’re three for three.

With ‘Third Degree‘, Flying Colors continue to fire on all cylinders — and, in the process, they also handily prove the third time’s an unquestionable sonic charm.

You can pre-order the album here: https://smarturl.it/Flying-Colors.

Track Listing
1. The Loss Inside
2. More
3. Cadence
4. Guardian
5. Last Train Home
6. Geronimo
7. You Are Not Alone
8. Love Letter
9. Crawl

Deluxe CD Bonus Disc
1. Waiting For The Sun (Unreleased Bonus Studio Track)
2. Geronimo (Alternate Instrumental Arrangement & Mix)
3. You Are Not Alone (Alternate Instrumental Arrangement & Mix)
4. Love Letter (Alternate Instrumental Arrangement & Mix)
5. Last Train Home (Alternate Instrumental Arrangement & Mix)
6. Crawl (Alternate Instrumental Arrangement & Mix)

Following the release of his new album ‘Behold Electric Guitar, Paul Gilbert will be taking to the road and playing 9 shows through the UK in September.

The Illinois born, Mr. Big co-founder and Racer X star is now on his 15th solo studio album and continues to enthrall. His latest album was released on Music Theories Recordings in May and received a wave of critical praise with Planet Rock Magazine calling it “immaculate”, Classic Rock lauding its “fret-scorching fireworks” and Powerplay calling him an “astonishing talent” amongst others.

Talking about the upcoming tour, Gilbert says; “After a month of touring in the USA, my band and I are deep into the songs, and warmed up for our upcoming shows in Russia, Europe, and the U.K.! One of my best moments was when my old Racer X bandmate, Bruce Bouillet came to a show and afterwards wrote, ‘Paul and his band killed it… I’ll go so far as saying this is the best I’ve seen him play.’ Thanks Bruce! And thank YOU. See you on tour!”

Paul Gilbert‘Behold Electric Guitar’ September UK Tour

Tickets available from
paulgilbert.com/tour

Mon 16 Sep – The Fleece, Bristol
Tues 17 Sep – Riverside, Newcastle
Weds 18 Sep – Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
Thurs 19 Sep – Academy 3, Manchester
Fri 20 Sep – Sub 89, Reading
Sat 21 Sep – Engine Rooms, Southampton
Sun 22 Sep – O2 Islington Academy, London
Mon 23 Sep – The Mill, Birmingham
Tues 24 Sep – Crauford Arms, Milton Keynes

After his recent move to Portland, Oregon, Paul set out to connect with the best and grooviest musicians in the area, and record an album in his brand new hometown. Brian Foxworth (drums) and Asher Fulero (keyboards) were both obvious choices to play Paul’s mix of rock, blues, jazz, and pop flavors. When Paul’s regular Portland bassist Kelly Lemieux was unavailable (due to his touring with Buckcherry), Paul reached out to New Orleans bass legend, Roland Guerin. Roland came to Portland weeks before the recording dates for intense rehearsing and arranging sessions.

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Review: Michael Romeo- War Of The Worlds / Pt. 1

Music Theories Recordings / Mascot Label Group (July 27th 2018)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

I’m sure most of your are familiar with the name Michael Romeo, founding member of progressive metal band Symphony X. Well in this release Michael delves into the depths of symphonic metal.

I’ll say from the start, if your not a fan of widdly widdly guitar then this release is probably not for you. Having said that, those guitar connoisseurs among you will absolutely love it!

Kicking off with an intro that wouldn’t be out of place in a Star Wars film, Mr Romeo soon makes it obvious where his roots lie.

I’ll be honest and say I have to be in the mood for symphonic metal, but catch me at the right time and there is an increase in volume shall we say. Those increases were quite frequent during the various playbacks of ‘War Of The Worlds / Pt. 1‘, the production leading to a decent sound full of depth and atmosphere.

Listening to the robot effects at the beginning of ‘F*cking Robots‘ is an experience on headphones, even more so up-scaled through a home cinema system, making it one of my favorites out of the ten tracks on offer. The current single ‘Djinn‘ is shall we say a little daring as a single coming in as it does at a nearly seven and a half minutes long. But it so highlights the vocal talents of Rick Castellano. Boy can he hit notes most of us could only almost manage in tight trousers.

With a run time of some 50 minutes, this album certainly doesn’t short change you, leading you as it does through the mind of H.G. Wells. There are influences aplenty with more than a nod to my favorite classical composer Holst. It’s almost the Planets Suite meets Conception meets Savatage.

To sum up, this is an album I discovered I enjoyed far more than I expected. It is without doubt a labour of love by Romeo and here’s looking forward to Pt 2.

 

Internationally acclaimed guitar hero Michael Romeo has announced the release of his solo album, ‘War of the Worlds / Pt. 1’, on July 27th via Music Theories Recordings / Mascot Label Group.

The wildly ambitious 10-song disc sees the founder, chief songwriter and prime mover of the progressive titans Symphony X furthering his reputation as one of the world’s preeminent axe slingers and composers of adventurous, multi-faceted orchestral metal.

It’s me putting all the things I love about music in a blender,” says Romeo. “Somebody might listen to it and say, ‘What is this guy thinking?’ But it’s all about being creative and having a good time with it.

No doubt there will rapturous responses from Romeo’s longtime fans. While ‘War of the Worlds / Pt. 1‘ brims with the kind of thrill-seeking guitar chops that have placed the Garden State shredder in numerous “all-time greats” lists, it also offers some unconventional twists: Along with classic metal textures, Romeo pays homage to film score giants Bernard Hermann and John Williams, and there’s even some surprising EDM/dubstep elements guaranteed to turn heads – all of which makes for an enthralling and immersive journey.

Recalling the forbidding tone of the notorious H.G. Wells novel that inspired its name, Romeo casts the lead track, ‘Introduction‘ as a precursor for what is to follow. The dark, symphonic instrumental (equal parts Bernard Herman and Gustav Holst) gives way to the pummeling metal double-header of ‘Fear the Unknown‘ and ‘Black,’ on which Romeo’s rifftastic twists and turns are ably assisted by Rick Castellano’s soaring vocals.

A startling change-up occurs with ‘F*cking Robots‘, a striking mash-up of digital blurps, bleeps, DJ-like scratches and ace guitar madness. “My fans might think I’ve lost my mind on this one,” the axeman jokes. But just as quickly, he floors the six-string goodness on ‘Djinn‘, an epic, theatrical rock roller coaster on which the rhythm section of John “JD” DeServio (bass) and John Macaluso (drums) provide a muscular backdrop for the guitarist’s elastic soloing and Castellano’s full-throated vocal chops.

The lush balladry of ‘Believe‘ is a big-hearted respite from the shards of molten metal, but Romeo whips out the doomsday riffage on ‘Differences‘ and ‘Oblivion‘, both chock full of widescreen hooks and synapse-altering solos.

Closing out the set is the cinematic musical odyssey ‘Constellations‘, which sees guitars and keyboards majestically taking flight into a kind of heretofore unseen otherworld. “That one probably took the longest to create of all the songs on the record,” Romeo recalls. “It wasn’t just the recording – it was the writing and scoring. I had to break out the pencil and paper on that one. But I couldn’t be happier with the results. It really ends the album on a powerful note.

Romeo recorded the bulk of ‘War of the Worlds / Pt. 1‘ over a year-and-a-half period in the comfort of his home studio (nicknamed “the Dungeon” by his wife) in Hazlet, New Jersey. The project gave him the perfect opportunity to work with the rising Long Island star Castellano, a singer he’s had his eye on for some time, as well as fellow Jerseyans Macaluso and Black Label Society member DeServio. “JD and I went to high school together,” Romeo notes. “We always wanted to do something together, so this was the perfect opportunity. The planets finally aligned, and we were able to work together. It was great to have him play on it.

Symphony X fans have been waiting two decades for an honest to goodness Michael Romeo solo album (not counting his 1994 demo recording, The Dark Chapter, which was released in several countries), and the arrival of ‘War of the Worlds / Pt. 1‘ will be no doubt be cause for celebration. And the guitarist promises a sequel – “Most of Part II is already finished,” he says, “It just needs a few vocals, a couple solos, a few tweaks here and there. I want people to absorb the first one for a while, and then we’ll put out the second record. They’ll complement each other, but they’ll also be a bit different.