It's been nearly five years since Symphony X
released The Odyssey
. The anticipation among fans has been almost palpable. Mike and co. have taken their time writing Paradise Lost
, and having seen a wide scale leaked release on Monday 7th May 2007, the general consensus so far is that the painstaking care has paid dividends.
The style has changed again, whilst retaining the distinctive Symphony X magic. Gone are the darkened bone-cruncher riffs of Wicked
and Incantations Of The Apprentice
; there is no sweeping epic in sight, nor seamless concept piece. What we are presented with is an incredible furore of all that is good about power, progressive and symphonic metal wrapped up into a sweet 60 minute package. The sheer energy of this album is almost incomprehensibly massive, as though every second since 2002 has been captured and suddenly released in an unparalleled blast of metal triumph.
Symphony X school the majority of power metal bands out there, while still proving they are a leading force in the progressive field. The pacey tunes fly, the slow and heavy ones rock and the ballads move, all united by the undeniable progressive undercurrent that presents a fresh and innovative sound, setting a new precedent not just for Symphony X, but for all metal bands.Michael Romeo
is on best form throughout with completely new bombastic riffs, heavy and dark as is his trademark but without the relentless brutality of The Odyssey's full metal chuggers. As ever, the man's lead work is beyond special: the guitar blazes with overarching splendour through majestic solos, and furiously rages into terrifying bursts of raw shred.Michael LePond
is let out of the cage for a couple of far too infrequent bass leads, notably the start of Domination and also the Seven pre-solo. Although often understated, LePond's groove is instrumental in tying each piece together, and while tasteful, nonetheless answers the call of Romeo's riffs on occasion.Jason Rullo
provides much of the frenetic energy in this release, and deftly wields the reigns of the rhythmic section through time signature and tempo changes alike as we have come to expect.Michael Pinnella
makes a welcome resurgence to the fore, with keyboard rhythm and lead taking a more prominent position in the mix than in the previous album. The leads in particular are thrilling, with Pinnella not simply performing exceptional feats of dexterous virtuosity, but challenging and drawing more from Romeo. The piano work in the more sombre moments of Paradise Lost is moving in the extreme.Russell Allen
exceeds himself once more, and that's saying a lot, seeing as his prior performances rank his among the greatest of metal voices anyway. The diversity of style this man can portray is astounding, switching between growls and soft tones in an instant. The attention to detail on the vocal production is special also, with the vocal harmony on Serpent's Kiss sending chills down the spine.
There are several references to the band's third studio album, The Divine Wings of Tragedy, aside from several of the track names, for example, the guitar and keyboard unison in Eve of Seduction, the closing section of Revelation echoing the former's title epic, and the lyric "of shadows and sin". The title track harks back to the sounds of Rediscovery Pt. 2
, The Accolade
and even The Edge Of Forever
Perhaps as an indication of how far-reaching the band's influence is now, parts of Seven sound almost similar to Richard Anderson's Space Odyssey
There is so much right with this album it is incredibly difficult to criticise it. Aside from the general disgruntled feeling that is inevitable from a 5 year wait, one observation is the presence of what might be dismissed as "simple" power metal tracks. There is no doubt that several tracks can be classified as power metal, but they are far from the mundane and keep the pace going throughout the album.I predicted this album would be album of 2006
. Well I was wrong: it's album of 2007 instead, and it's only May. The time, love and energy crafted into this music means that it will take a lot to equal this album, but with releases coming soon from Dream Theater
and Circus Maximus
, as well as potentially Andromeda
, anything could happen. Symphony X have returned in force with one of the greatest albums of the last decade. This, combined with the exposure garnered from Gigantour
performances and the upcoming shows with contemporary, Dream Theater
, may herald a new era of recognition for a band which has long deserved greater reward for their wonderful music.
Paradise Lost is released on June 26th 2007. Buy it.Oculus Ex Inferni Set The World On Fire (The Lie of Lies) Domination The Serpent's Kiss Paradise Lost Eve Of Seduction The Walls Of Babylon Seven The Sacrifice Revelation (divus Pennae Ex Tragoedia) Russell Allen & Jorn Lande Allen-Lande Russell Allen's Atomic Soul Ark Disillusion Nevermore Kamelot MadSword Orphaned Land Pain of Salvation Yngwie Malmsteen Evergrey Adagio Freak Kitchen Racer X Threshold