Michael Romeo

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Michael Romeo
Romeo at Wacken Open Air 2016
Romeo at Wacken Open Air 2016
Background information
Birth nameMichael James Romeo
Also known asThe Maestro
Born (1968-03-06) March 6, 1968 (age 55)
New York, U.S.
GenresProgressive metal, power metal, symphonic metal, neoclassical metal
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter, composer, record producer
Instrument(s)Guitar, keyboards, backing vocals
Years active1992–present
Member ofSymphony X

Michael James Romeo (born March 6, 1968) is an American musician, best known as the guitarist and founding member of the progressive metal group Symphony X. He is one of two members to appear on every Symphony X release (the other being Michael Pinnella).

Romeo is known for his speed and precision on the guitar, having been praised for his "pyrotechnic displays" on the instrument.[1] He is also known for his unique style of tapping.[2]

Romeo was ranked #91 out of 100 Greatest Heavy Metal Guitarists of All Time by Guitar World,[3] and has influenced a number of younger players, including DragonForce's Herman Li, who listed Romeo among his Top 10 favorite guitarists in 2011.[4]

Early life and influences[edit]

Romeo's introduction to formal music training began with piano lessons at the age of 10.[5] His parents owned a piano, and a piano teacher would visit the house once per week.[2] He also played clarinet in a school concert band.[2][5] Through lessons, Romeo was introduced to a number of classical composers that would become a source of inspiration throughout his career, such as Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Richard Wagner, Gustav Holtz and Igor Stravinsky.[5]

Upon hearing his first Kiss album, Romeo purchased a cheap acoustic guitar at a garage sale and began practicing.[5] He became serious about the guitar around the age of 12, after listening to the albums Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman by Ozzy Osbourne, and would subsequently be heavily influenced by the neoclassical technique and style of Randy Rhoads.[5] In a 2022 interview with Sea of Tranquility, Romeo would recall practicing daily at that point in his life, by playing along to the Ozzy Osbourne albums and others.[6]

Romeo has listed a number of individual players as influences to his style of playing, but considers Rhoads, Al Di Meola, Yngwie Malmsteen, and Uli Jon Roth to be his primary influences.[2][5] Other players include Marty Friedman, Shawn Lane and Ritchie Blackmore.[2][5] In terms of bands, Romeo has listed Rush, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Deep Purple, Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Kansas as sources of inspiration.[5] Romeo is also a fan of composers of film scores, such as Bernard Herrmann and Hans Zimmer.[7] In particular, Romeo has been influenced by the works of John Williams.[2][5][7]


Caparison Dellinger Prominence-MJR
ManufacturerCaparison Guitars
Body typeSolid
Neck jointBolt-on
Scale648mm (25 1/2")
NeckMaple and Walnut
BridgeSchaller S-FRT II (Floyd Rose type)
Pickup(s)2 Humbuckers
Neck: DiMarzio Tone Zone
Bridge: DiMarzio X2N
Colors available

Romeo's first serious guitar was a white Kramer Pacer, and he has also used Fender Stratocasters.[6] Romeo began his career with Symphony X using ESP M-II Deluxe guitars with EMG Active pickups, and later switching to the DiMarzio Tone Zone and X2N pickups.[8] In 2005, Romeo was introduced to Caparison by Henrik Danhage of Evergrey.[9] Caparison developed a custom model Dellinger Prominence-MJR,[10] which Romeo has since used as his primary guitar. The guitar was used to record the 2007 Symphony X album Paradise Lost, and all subsequent releases from the band.[11] Romeo has also played a Dellinger Prominence 7, which can be heard on War of the Worlds, Pt. 2.[6]

In the studio Romeo has used Mesa Boogie Triaxis amplifiers, before switching to the ENGL Fireball around the time of Symphony X's The Odyssey.[8] Romeo has continued to use ENGL's Fireball and Powerball amplifiers in the studio and for live performances.[12] Throughout his career, Romeo has also used various Line 6 and Marshall amplifiers.[12]

In terms of effects for live performances, Romeo pairs his various amplifiers with a TC Electronic "G System",[12] a Boss NS2 Noisegate, an Ibanez Tube Screamer and a Boss Acoustic Simulator.[13]

Solo and guest work[edit]

In 1994, Romeo's solo debut The Dark Chapter was released.

In 1995, Long Island Records of Germany released the self-titled debut Phantom's Opera album featuring Romeo on lead guitar, Colie Brice on vocals, Bob Nelson on drums, Eric Walz on bass, and founding member Jack Young on keyboard and piano.[14] The album was reissued with bonus tracks by Rewind in the US in 1999.[14]

In 1999, Romeo provided all guitar and bass parts on The Last Viking, the third studio album from Johansson brothers Jens and Anders.

In 2000, Romeo played a guest solo on the song "Dawn of a Million Souls" from Ayreon's album Universal Migrator Part 2: Flight of the Migrator.[15] Romeo has been a frequent guest collaborator with Arjen Lucassen, having also contributed guest solos on the songs "E=MC²" from Ayreon's 2008 release 01011001,[16] and "Fate of Man" from Star One's 2022 release Revel in Time, a side project of Lucassen's.[17]

In 2002, Romeo provided guitar parts for five songs from Kotipelto's Waiting for the Dawn. He would go on to provide guitar work on seven songs from their 2004 followup, Coldness.

In 2003, Redemption's self-titled release featured contributions from Romeo on the first four songs of the album.

In 2004, Romeo contributed guitar work for Vitalij Kuprij on his song "Piano Overture" from the album Forward and Beyond.[18]

In 2005, Romeo provided guitar, bass and orchestration for eight songs from Symphony X bandmate Russell Allen's solo debut, Atomic Soul. Romeo also recorded and served as engineer on the record. The same year, Romeo provided orchestration work on three songs of Steve Walsh's solo album Shadowman,[19] and on all songs from The Bronx Casket Co.'s Hellectric. Romeo would work with The Bronx Casket Co. again in 2011, providing lead guitar work on Antihero.

In 2007, Romeo arranged orchestral parts for the album Beautiful Tragedy by American band In This Moment.

In 2009, Romeo composed and recorded orchestral parts for "The Discovery" and "Gaia (The Vultures)" on God Forbid's album Earthsblood. Symphony X bandmate Michael Pinnella also contributed to two songs on the release.

In 2013, Romeo recorded some solos and guitar work for the self-titled debut album of Michael Kaplan's progressive rock project Flaud Logic.[20][21] He also made a guest appearance on the new Pat Gesualdo album, Iceland.[22]

In 2014, Romeo engineered and provided drum programming and some guitar work for Symphony X bandmate Michael LePond's project Mike LePond's Silent Assassins. Romeo would provide the same for Pawn and Prophecy and Whore of Babylon, released by Mike LePond's Silent Assassins in 2018 and 2020 respectively.

In early 2018, Romeo announced the release of a new full-length solo album called War of the Worlds, Pt. 1, also featuring Rick Castellano (vocals), John "JD" DeServio (bass) and John Macaluso (drums) as the backing band. It was released on July 27 via Mascot Label Group.[23] A sequel album, War of the Worlds, Pt. 2 was released in March 2022 through Inside Out, with Dino Jelusick replacing Castellano on vocals.[24]


With Symphony X[edit]


With Phantom's Opera[edit]

  • Phantom's Opera (1995)

With Johansson[edit]

  • The Last Viking (1999)

With Mike LePond's Silent Assassins[edit]

As a guest[edit]

With Whiplash[edit]

With Arjen Lucassen[edit]

With Kotipelto[edit]

  • Various (Waiting for the Dawn) – Kotipelto (2002)
  • Various (Coldness) – Kotipelto (2004)

With Redemption[edit]

With Thunderstone[edit]

With Vitalij Kuprij[edit]

With Russell Allen[edit]

With Steve Walsh[edit]

With The Bronx Casket Co.[edit]

  • Various (Hellectric) – The Bronx Casket Co. (2005)
  • Various (Antihero) – The Bronx Casket Co. (2011)

With Eidolon[edit]

With In This Moment[edit]

With God Forbid[edit]

With Lion's Share[edit]

With Mike Orlando[edit]

With Flaud Logic[edit]

  • Various (Flaud Logic) – Flaud Logic (2013)

With Michael Angelo Batio[edit]

With Pat Gesualdo[edit]

  • Various (Iceland) – Pat Gesualdo (2013)

With DGM[edit]

With Mari Hamada[edit]

With Verni[edit]

  • Various (Barricade) – Verni (2018)


  1. ^ Symphony X - The Divine Wings of Tragedy Album Reviews, Songs & More | AllMusic, retrieved January 20, 2023
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Michael Romeo Interview – A Perfect Symphony Part One: 1970's to 2000. | All Out Guitar | Magazine Archive". March 19, 2016. Archived from the original on March 19, 2016. Retrieved January 20, 2023.
  3. ^ "Guitar World's 100 Greatest Heavy Metal Guitarists of All Time". Blabbermouth.net. Roadrunner Records. January 23, 2004. Archived from the original on September 2, 2011. Retrieved September 11, 2011.
  4. ^ "DragonForce Shredder Herman Li Lists His Ten Favorite Guitarists". Roadrunner Records. July 12, 2011. Retrieved July 28, 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i Symphony X website "-=Symphony X-Official Website=-". Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved July 21, 2011., Michael Romeo tells the story of his influences and musical career.
  6. ^ a b c A Chat with Michael Romeo of Symphony X, retrieved January 20, 2023
  7. ^ a b Amit Sharma (April 13, 2022). "Symphony X shredder-in-chief Michael Romeo's 5 tips for guitarists: "Keep speeding up those patterns you're working on. That's the way to build up speed… there are no shortcuts"". MusicRadar. Retrieved January 20, 2023.
  8. ^ a b "The official Silent Edge Website". May 31, 2014. Archived from the original on May 31, 2014. Retrieved January 22, 2023.
  9. ^ "COFFEE WITH OLA – Henrik Danhage of Evergrey – REUPLOAD FULL VIDEO". YouTube.
  10. ^ "Dellinger Prominence-MJR". Caparison Guitars. Retrieved January 15, 2023.
  11. ^ "Michael Romeo Interview – A Perfect Symphony Part Two: 2002 - 2008 | All Out Guitar | Magazine Archive". Archived from the original on May 5, 2021. Retrieved January 20, 2023.
  12. ^ a b c "Michael Romeo Interview – A Perfect Symphony Part Two: 2002 - 2008 | All Out Guitar | Magazine Archive". May 5, 2021. Archived from the original on May 5, 2021. Retrieved January 22, 2023.
  13. ^ GEAR GODS RIGGED - Symphony X, retrieved January 22, 2023
  14. ^ a b Phantom's Opera - Phantom's Opera, retrieved January 16, 2023
  15. ^ "Ayreon Reveals Video For "Dawn of a Million Souls"". Metal Planet Music. November 21, 2022. Retrieved January 16, 2023.
  16. ^ "Michael Romeo – Arjen Lucassen". www.arjenlucassen.com. Retrieved January 16, 2023.
  17. ^ BraveWords. "SYMPHONY X Guitarist MICHAEL ROMEO Performs Solo On New STAR ONE Album; Video". bravewords.com. Retrieved January 16, 2023.
  18. ^ Vitalij Kuprij - Forward And Beyond, retrieved January 16, 2023
  19. ^ "Review: "Walsh, Steve: Shadowman" – Sea of Tranquility – The Web Destination for Progressive Music!". Sea of Tranquility. Retrieved July 28, 2014.
  20. ^ "News". Flaud Logic. Retrieved July 28, 2014.
  21. ^ "React App". www.flaudlogic.com. Retrieved January 16, 2023.
  22. ^ BraveWords. "SYMPHONY X's Michael Romeo, METAL MIKE Among Musicians Joining Forces With Drummer Pat Gesualdo In ICELAND Project; Audio Samples Streaming". bravewords.com. Retrieved January 15, 2023.
  23. ^ "SYMPHONY X Guitarist MICHAEL ROMEO To Release 'War Of The Worlds / Pt. 1' Solo Album In July". Blabbermouth.net. May 30, 2018. Retrieved May 31, 2018.
  24. ^ BraveWords. "SYMPHONY X Guitarist MICHAEL ROMEO Releases "Divide & Conquer" Music Video; War Of The Worlds, Part 2 Album Details Revealed". bravewords.com. Retrieved January 16, 2023.

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