Review: Heavy Metal Symphony by Alyssa Palombo

I have read all of Alyssa Palombo’s novels so when this one came up for review, it was a no brainer. Although that’s not to say that I had reservations. Palombo generally writes historical fiction and this one was clearly not. I mean the title alone says it all right there and then I read the description—metal band romance. I literally wasn’t sure about this one.

I am not a fan of metal bands or even rock bands. Music isn’t really in my blood in the way that it is for a lot of other people. It’s something that I enjoy but not something essential. For example I can workout or run in complete silence—doesn’t phase me. So I had concerns that I was going to be the wrong reader for this book but at the same time I have adores all of Palombo’s books over the years so I thought—-why not just give it a shot and see how it goes.

It takes guts to try something new and Palombo went out on a limb here by breaking out of her usual genre. It is a contempo novel and Palombo herself has been very vocal about how this is the novel of her heart which is ultimately what made me want to read this one and say yes. The fact that the other novels haven’t been ‘the book of my heart’ and they were still amazing made me excited to see how the ‘book of my heart’ stacked up.


Ava Tomei seems to have it all: she’s the lead singer of Buffalo-based metal band Handel’s Messiah and is in a committed relationship with the band’s keyboard player and brilliant composer Killian Sterling. But as the band hits the studio to record their fifth album, Ava and Killian can no longer hide the cracks in their relationship from their bandmates—or from themselves.

What started as an artistic collaboration between Ava and Killian six years before quickly bloomed into a passionate romance. Then, when the lead singer of Handel’s Messiah—and Killian’s ex girlfriend—leaves the band right in the middle of the band’s world tour, Killian calls on Ava to step in. Ava is plunged into the pressures of stepping in to front one of metal’s biggest rising bands amidst fan disappointment, skepticism from her new band mates, the physical demands of a world tour, and sexism in the metal scene. But she also has the chance to fulfill her wildest dreams. Still, as Ava’s desire to express her creativity comes to a head with Killian’s artistic dominance, they are forced to confront whether what they have can be repaired—and what will happen to the band if not. (summary from Goodreads)


The thing that rang true in this book was the love of music as well as Buffalo, New York. It is evident that Palombo has a deep affection for her hometown as well as the music that inspired this book. For me personally, I have a hard time reading song lyrics as I am not a musician and without the actual music to guide me—I struggle. That is across every book I’ve read and also spans to poetry. I always struggle with both of those in books. Now that said, the lyrics in this story were meaningful and enjoyable to read even if I couldn’t quite ‘hear’ them, I still felt them and found meaning in them.

I love how Palombo captured the music, lyrics, and touring feel in this one. All the little details were evident and clearly this was the work of her heart. I especially loved some of the album cover art in the book. It added a lot of fun to the story and I thought it was a nice touch! I could feel it in all the pages and in the characters. She spent a lot of time developing the characters and creating a realistic representation of the music world and what it was like to be on tour. Even if you are not a fan of metal music, you will find a good story and interesting characters in this book. I love stories about artists and the behind the scenes and what goes on off stage when the concert ends. For example, I am not a Queen fan but I absolutely loved the film Bohemian Rhapsody. That’s what this book does, while not every reader will love the music, there is still an interesting story waiting to be told and that’s what took me by surprise with this one. I was expecting an interesting story but not such a richly mined one here.

This book is more about characters than music. It has interesting characters and I especially enjoyed the character development and chemistry between Killian and Ava. It was intense and well developed. If you love character driven stories and are looking for something a little different than some of the more mainstream ‘safe’ novels this is your read! This book was bold, interesting, well researched and obviously well loved. I was not expecting to love this one as much as I did but it was wonderful and fresh. I have loved all of Palombo’s historical fiction books but this book was clearly at the top of my favorites by her. A wonderful story with so much to love. Pick this one up today!

Book Info and Rating

Format: Kindle Edition

Published: October 19th 2021 by Kaledena Press LLC

ISBN: 9781736860335

Free review copy provided by publisher, Kaledena Press, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.

Rating: 5 stars

Genre: contempo lit


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