TROPE, HAKEN, & SYMPHONY X In Glenside, PA - ladube


As one of the premier names in neoclassical/symphonic progressive metal, New Jersey quintet Symphony X are a truly force to be reckoned with. Unfortunately, they’ve not been able to capitalize on their stylstiic supremacy in a long time, with their last tour concluding in August of 2019 and their newest album—Underworld—arriving in July of 2015. Thus, they’ve been chomping at the bit to unleash their fire once again, and that’s exactly what they did at the Keswick Theater on May 11th. Supported by two more phenomenal acts (Trope and Haken), Symphony X seized the night as only they could.

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Self-described as “an alternative rock band with progressive elements,” Trope got started at 7:00 PM and played almost non-stop for about 35 minutes. Whereas the official group is a quartet, this performance consisted only of singer Diana Studenberg and guitarist/producer Moonhead. Remarkably, though, they carried on just fine by using guitar loops, prerecorded percussion, and the like to fill in the gaps.

In fact, they replicated much of their debut LP, 2021’s Eleutheromania, extremely well. Highlights included “Lambs,” “Privateer,” “Surrogate,” “Season’s Change,” and “Pareidolia.” Each track—among others—felt sufficiently individualistic while also offering a strong cumulative overview of Trope‘s aesthetic. Admittedly, comparisons to artists such as Evanescence, Anathema, Karnival, The Gatheringand especially Tool were apt; however, the combination of Studenberg‘s affective mystical bellows and Moonhead‘s innovative instrumentation delighted in their own right. They put an emblematic spin on Tears for Fears’ “Shout,” too, which struck a great balance between faithfulness and freshness (as all cover songs should).

Shortly thereafter, Haken played an hour-long set that was—at the risk of sounding hyperbolic—absolutely mind-blowing. Predictably, they favored 2020’s Virus Above all else, kicking off with the LP’s opening duo (“Prosthetic” and “Invasion”) before closing with “Carousel.” Having just returned from this year’s gargantuan Cruise to the Edge festival, they were in perfect shape, with virtually every note and effect accounted for as they played some incredibly complex music with ease. Likewise, vocalist Ross Jennings‘ voice was immaculate, so they really couldn’t have reproduced the material any better.

Of course, the same holds true for the intermediate pieces, such as the chaotic instrumental “Nil by Mouth” (from Vector) and fan-favorite “Cockroach King” (from The Mountain). Expectedly, they nailed the Gentle Giant-esque vocal collages of the latter tune, just as they captured all vintage 1980s nuances of “1985” (from Affinity). They even interrupted the song with an unanticipated dive into Yes’ “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” further cementing their love for the bygone era. Throw in an appearance from their latest single—“Nightingale”—and you have an extraordinary show.

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