60 Minutes: Symphony X Guitarist Michael Romeo
With Symphony X kicking off a North American tour with Iced Earth this week, we couldn't think of a better candidate to relaunch our "60 Minutes" feature online with that the band's virtuoso guitarist, Michael Romeo.
For those of you who aren't familiar with one of our longest-running magazine features, the idea is simple: to create your ultimate hour-long playlist of the music that most rocks your world.
When making his "60 Minutes" selections, Romeo decided to stay true to his roots, focusing on the bands and guitarists that helped him become one of the most respected axe-slingers in metal. Given his love of neo-Classical shredders like Yngwie Malmsteen and his penchant for orchestral music, it's no wonder he's given us more than his share of epic music over the years, including the 24-plus-minute "Odyssey" and stellar albums like The Divine Wings of Tragedy and, most recently, Iconoclast.
Symphony X are currently on the road with Iced Earth and Warbringer, and you can get all of the tour dates and info here.
Ozzy Osbourne, "Mr. Crowley"
"Randy Rhoads was one of my big influences growing up. When I was getting into guitar, he was my main guy. I played the shit out of those first two records and probably learned every note. "Mr. Crowley" was cool because it had the two solos, especially the longer one at the end."
Black Sabbath, "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath"
"This one's tough because there's so much classic stuff. It's got that badass riff in the middle, it's tuned-down... Heaven and Hell is still my favorite Sabbath record of all time, but there's just something about 'Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.'"
Pantera, "5 Minutes Alone"
"To pick just one is really tough, there's so much stuff on Vulgar Display and Cowboys too. I think Dime just had that tone. The guitars on Far Beyond Driven are just so brutal and thick."
Judas Priest, "Painkiller"
"I remember when that came out, there was just something about it. It was definitely heavy. I've been a Priest fan since I was a kid, with all the classic records, but Painkiller... that was something special."
"Moving Pictures is such a classic record; I could really pick any song from that album and I'd be cool with it. "Limelight" just has that great progressive riff, so we'll go with that one. If we didn't have to worry about time, I'd probably go with 'Hemispheres' or 'La Villa Strangiato' though!"
Yngwie Malmsteen, "Now Your Ships Are Burned"
"Yngwie's another guy who was a big influence, especially with that Classical influence. That first Rising Force record was really important for me, and Yngwie's playing on this track is just ferocious!"
Shawn Lane, "West Side Boogie"
"I'm going to have to include something from the Powers of Ten record. There's a tune called "West Side Boogie" on there that's got some insane guitar playing on it. It's really mature at the same time, though; the musicality of that guy is amazing."
John Williams, "The Imperial Death March" (Star Wars)
"I have to include something from the Star Wars soundtrack. John Williams was a musical genius; there are so many great film composers -- [Jerry] Goldsmith, Alan Silvestri -- but all of his music is just so timeless. "
Igor Stravinsky, "The Rite of Spring" (First Theme)
"The musical vocabulary and the harmony and all the odd meters of 'The Rite of Spring' was something I really liked. I'm a huge Stravinsky fan. A lot of the guitar guys I listened to growing up -- Rhoads and Malmsteen -- had that classical influence; Uli John Roth too. I played piano growing up, so I was familiar with Beethoven and Bach, but I guess I branched out more as I got older. [Gustav] Holst's 'The Planets' is another big one."
AC/DC, "Back In Black"
"AC/DC was my first concert and I started learning guitar just a couple of years after that. I remember learning some of the tunes off that album and struggling through them back in the day. A lot of stuff that came out that year -- Blizzard [of Ozz], Heaven and Hell -- that was the stuff I was learning and it really guided where everything was going to end up."
Black Sabbath, "Heaven and Hell"
"I thought the songs on this record were really great, with Dio singing and Iommi with the riffs. Every song had cool riffs. It's a classic record for me, definitely a top five or ten album of all time."
Steve Vai, "Attitude Song"
"Vai is such an amazing musician. He wasn't as big for me as Randy Rhoads or Yngwie, but I remember "The Attitude Song" from the Flex-Able record being this great track. Or I could really choose any Frank Zappa song with Vai on it. I want to include something from Zappa, but I don't even know where to begin!"