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Review: Adagio - Underworld

Label: NTS
Year released: 2003
Duration: 63:30
Tracks: 8
Genre: Neoclassical Power Metal

Rating: 4.75/5

Review online: March 5, 2009
Reviewed by: Christopher Foley
Readers Rating

Rated 4.18/5 (83.64%) (22 Votes)

Album number two from France's finest Progressive Metal export Adagio, and it's without a shadow of a doubt their best release. This is quite possibly the best music guitar-slinging ring leader Stéphan Forté will ever write. Underworld has a delicious atmosphere, very dark and evoking the feeling of being trapped in an old creepy black and white film, which can be attributed to the fantastic keys handled by Kevin Codfert. The keys drench you in such a rich soundscape, never relaxing yet never keeping you on edge. Dancing throughout the keys are massive choirs and orchestrations, giving a grand feeling and bringing fantastical images to mind. Now this is all very well and good, but it doesn't sound very metal does it? That's where Stéphan Forté comes into play, with his smoking riffs and blinding neoclassical leads. He's a very impressive player and has an instantly identifiable style which is increasingly becoming a rarity. All is rounded off with a great rhythm section and fantastic vocalist David Readman who delivers the best performance of his career. Never have I heard him sounding so strong and powerful as I have on Underworld.

Don't expect this record to click right away however. Some of the guitar licks are absolutely ingenious, and still make me scratch my head after owning this CD for such a long time. Prime examples of this would be the pre-chorus licks in "Introitus/Solvet Saeclum In Favilla" and the guitar/keyboard duel in the stupendous "Chosen" which is certainly the finest track on offer. It's hard to pick faults with a release I've enjoyed and subjected myself to for such a long time. At 60 minutes plus, it's certainly a long one and the mammoth title track could do with a little more balls to it, but really that's just nit-picking. The chorus to "From My Sleep… To Someone Else" is great, and David Readman sounds glorious. I'd go as far as to say this is a modern classic and deserves a place in any serious Prog fan's collection. A truly stunning experience, highly recommended.

Other related information on the site
Review: Archangels in Black (reviewed by Christopher Foley)
Review: Dominate (reviewed by Larry Griffin)
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