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   ADAGIO
Underworld
2003
NTS/Wagram
http://www.adagio-online.com


rating: 4,5/5

1. Next Profundis
2. Intro´tus/Solvet Saeclum In Favilla
3. Chosen
4. From My Sleep...To Someone Else
5. Underworld
6. Promises
7. The Mirror Stage
8. Niflheim

"Underworld" is the second coming of the French Adagio, led by the guitar virtuoso Stephan FortÚ. The only difference in the lineup is the absence of Richard Andersson. He has been replaced by Kevin Codfert who does an amazing job on this album. Instead of the usual "look-how-fast-I-can-play"-style he also offers some excellent emotional piano interludes. Their style still features neoclassical elements, some proggy twists, memorable melodies, but most of all the symphonic and operatic elements now have a much bigger role than on the debut. "Underworld" is slightly heavier than the debut album and the overall atmosphere is surprisingly gloomy. David Readman's (Pink Cream 69) singing is very good once again and it is only now that I notice that he sounds with his somewhat raspy voice quite a bit like J÷rn Lande.

The album opener "Next Profundis" takes the listener on a journey of an almost movie soundtrack-like experience. A heavy opener that features a piano interlude, a spoken part and a wonderful moody guitar solo. Choirs and synth that together create a pompous and dark atmosphere start "Intro´tus/Solvet Saeclum In Favilla", of which the first few minutes are the intro for the actual song. Crunchy guitars and a damn catchy chorus guarantee that this tune keeps on ringing in the mind of an enchanted listener for quite some time. "Chosen" alternates between faster and mellower parts, again with very nice piano playing. On "From My Sleep...To Someone Else" the already gloomy beginning is soon accompanied by a black metalish pace and screams by RMS Hreidmarr of Anorexia Nervosa. The song itself remains as a quality neoclassical tune though. Lucky me. The title track starts again with a soundtrack-like intro that lasts for four minutes. The whole song is a 13-minute epic with a nice chorus and certainly enough versatility. "Promises" is the obligatory ballad of the album which in all its beauty doesn't grow to be anything phenomenal. It is still beautiful and enjoyable, although a tad cheesy. "The Mirror Stage" is a wonderful melody-filled team-work of prog and neoclassical elements and the second appearance of RMS Hreidmarr. "Niflheim" is an intrumental that wraps things up for this album with some nice team-work by guitars and keyboards.

There are a lot of instrumental parts within the songs, some really emotional ones, but unfortunately also some that make me think of the actual necessity of all the soloing. It would be more enjoyable if the shredding would have been cut down even a little. Although the intolerably pointless wankery is absent on this album, the players' skills surely become evident. The album is indeed more massive in sound compared to the debut. I believe fans of bands like Symphony X have no difficulties liking this one.

submitted by Aleksi 23.10.2003

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