Adagio - Underworld
Label: Listenable Records
Reviewer: Karim Chami - 2012-08-15
Highlights: From My Sleep To Someone Else, Promises
It is very rare to find albums that define genres while it’s even harder to find albums that expand metal music beyond what it already is. Back in the 70’s and 80’s new bands expanded the vision of metal music beyond the reachable horizon and ventured into places no one ever thought was possible. One might ask himself what’s there left to rediscover in 2003? The answer would be Underworld.
Progressive metal mixed with a dark atmosphere, symphonic elements and neoclassical shredding. The progressive baroque atmosphere is the best I’ve heard but I have yet to stumble upon something better which I highly doubt. Although this masterpiece remains relatively unknown to many metal fans, it is as much of a revolutionary album as Dream Theater’s “Images And Words” or Queensrÿche’s “Operation: Mindcrime”. Well maybe not so ahead of its time but it’s perfectly done and no one should ignore it as I would definitely set it as a benchmark for modern progressive metal bands to follow.
If Adagio’s debut “Sanctus Ignis” was a Neoclassical Progressive/Power Metal masterpiece then Underworld has taken things one step closer to perfection. It has developed mainly in the experimental sense as it combines harmonic scale shredding of bands like Symphony X & Stratovarius with increased odd time signatures of bands like Dream Theater and classical influenced piano interludes that blend to give you my favorite Progressive Metal album to date. That’s not easy to say with all the great Progressive Metal album released in the past years.
The whole album is a highlight and it is very varied. You have tracks like the classically influenced (Chopin, Mozart) “Next Profundis” and the almost 14 minute haunting Title track to the melancholic ballad “Promises” or the Math Metal “Mirror Stage” (I call it Math Metal because the riffs and drum sections are literally calculated and very difficult to play). Perhaps my favorite among all the marvelous gems that can be found on this album is the haunting track called none other than “Chosen”. David Readman shines on this one while Stephan Forte offers his light and dark side both complementing each other to give us a perfect song. What’s very impressive on this album is the presence of what I think the best drummer Adagio had to date “Dirk Bruinenberg” who happens to play Dutch Prog band Elegy. His skills and odd key signatures really reflect what Adagio are all about while the clean/growl blending in some songs add to the dark atmosphere and create a new vibe that I haven’t heard in a long time specially when it comes to progressive metal albums, just check “From My Sleep To Someone Else”.
I can go on for hours praising the album but I’m just going to sum things up and just say get it and listen to it. It’s worth your time and I advice everyone to check “A Band In Upperworld” which is a live album recorded in Paris France to relive the experience live as Adagio play songs from their first 2 albums which unfortunately would happen to be the last album recorded with David Readman on vocals.