Concert Review: Symphony X & Heathen on Long Island, New York

Concert Review: Symphony X & Heathen on Long Island, New York

Veteran New Jersey progressive metal icons Symphony X embarked on their 30th anniversary North American tour this spring, with support from Bay Area thrashers Heathen. This jaunt marked the first Symphony X tour since 2022 and only their second on the continent since 2016, making it imperative for fans of the artist and genre to attend at least one of the shows. During the bands’ eighteen-date tour across the United States and Canada, the two well-respected metal acts showcased their catalogues at Mulcahy’s Pub and Concert Hall in Wantagh, New York (on Long Island) on Sunday, June 2.

Heathen performing at Mulcahy's in Wantagh, New York on June 2, 2024. (Credit: Steve Vargas)

San Francisco’s Heathen began the evening with an excellent forty minute, six-song set that included the outstanding 'Hypnotized' and 'Opiate of the Masses' from arguably their best record Victims of Deception, the Breaking the Silence title track, as well as 'Sun in My Hand' and 'The Blight' from their most recent record Empire of the Blind and 'Dying Season' from comeback record The Evolution of Chaos. Singer David White was energetic and sounded ageless performing songs written thirty years prior. Earlier this year, Heathen announced it would return to the studio to record their fifth LP after the conclusion of their touring with a projected 2025 release date.

Symphony X performing on its 30th anniversary world tour in Wantagh, New York (6/2/2024). (Credit: Steve Vargas)

Symphony X opened its one-hundred minute set with the title track from the stellar 2011 record Iconoclast, a nearly eleven-minute epic that immediately showcased the band's virtually unparalleled musicianship. The band returned to its most recent release – 2015’s Underworld – and performed 'Nevermore.' The frantic 'Inferno (Unleash the Fire)' and setlist staple 'Serpent’s Kiss' followed before the prog metal stalwarts played a pair of Underworld tracks: 'Without You' and 'To Hell and Back.' The five-piece then showcased the massive 'Dehumanized' (rarely played since the 2011-2012 Iconoclast tour) and 'Evolution (The Grand Design)' before closing the main portion of their show with their oldest song of the show, 'Sea of Lies' from 1997's Divine Wings of Tragedy. The diverse main set showcased nine songs from six records spanning nearly their entire career, several of which had not been performed in more than a decade until this tour. The song selection was an appropriate homage to three decades of memorable progressive metal and consistently notable releases.

Symphony X opened the encore with the Paradise Lost title track (video below), an instant classic that had not been performed since the first leg of the Iconoclast world tour thirteen years ago. The band followed with 'Run with the Devil,' the fourth and final Underworld song of the evening. 'Set the World on Fire (The Lie of Lies)' from the standout Paradise Lost was a fitting show closer.

From the opening seconds of 'Iconoclast' through 'Set the World on Fire,' Symphony X was in top form. Guitar maestro Michael Romeo showcased his hyper-technical skills throughout the evening via tapping, sweep picking, finger picking, and the usual shredding. Frontman Russell Allen’s delivery was flawless, as to be expected for one of the genre’s best vocalists. The rhythm section of bassist Mike LePond and Jason Rullo, along with keyboardist Michael Pinnella, was in fine form all evening. With intermittent talk of a new record during the past few years - including statements by Romeo in 2022 indicating the artist's first album in nearly a decade would be released in 2023, which did not come to fruition - hopefully the long-awaited follow-up to Underworld will become a reality after the conclusion of this well-received tour.

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