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Michael Romeo

A virtuosic American guitarist and a leading light in the progressive metal scene, Michael Romeo is best known as the mastermind behind New Jersey-based prog-metallers Symphony X. Known for their sprawling compositions, neo-classical guitar work, and majestic symphonic elements, the band have been active since 1994, and found commercial success in 2007 with the concept LP Paradise Lost, and again in 2011 with the chart-topping Iconoclast. In addition to his work with Symphony X, Romeo has guested on numerous albums by contemporaries like Ayreon, Vitalij Kuprij, and Steve Walsh, and has released a pair of solo albums, 1994's The Dark Chapter and 2018's War of the Worlds, Pt. 1. Citing a wide range of influences including Led Zeppelin, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Yngwie Malmsteen, Bach, Beethoven, Stravinsky, and Mozart, Romeo began playing piano at the age of ten. His first exposure to the music of Kiss made him think twice about his choice of instruments -- he also played clarinet -- and he switched to a beat-up garage-sale guitar. Immersing himself in the neo-classical technique of six-string virtuosos like Uli Jon Roth, Randy Rhoads, Shawn Lane, and Ritchie Blackmore, Romeo soon became a guitar wizard in his own right, and in 1994, after playing in the short-lived Phantom's Opera and Gemini, he issued his solo debut, The Dark Chapter, which featured keyboardist Michael Pinnella. Shortly thereafter, he formed Symphony X with Pinnella, bassist Thomas Miller, drummer Jason Rullo, and vocalist Rod Tyler -- Pinnella and Romeo would be the group's sole consistent members over the years. Debuting in 1994 with the eponymous Symphony X, the group went on to issue a string of acclaimed albums, such as The Divine Wings of Tragedy (1997) and the aforementioned Paradise Lost and Iconoclast, before going on hiatus in 2017. In 2018, Romeo delivered his sophomore solo effort, War of the Worlds, Pt.1, an ambitious and adventurous ten-track set of orchestral metal that was inspired by the H.G. Wells-penned story of the same name.
© James Christopher Monger /TiVo
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