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Symphony X - Paradise Lost CD (album) cover

PARADISE LOST

Symphony X

 

Progressive Metal

3.79 | 479 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

OriginsOfRuin
5 stars My rating: 5 stars - progressive metal masterpiece!

Wow.

I have been anticipating this album (as many others had) for five years. How the HELL could Symphony X top "The Odyssey" or "V"? Well, for one, the mix is UNBELIEVABLE! Forget the typical garage band style Symphony X has been known for. This time, they got Jens Bogren of Opeth to do the production and boy, did it help. Also, Michael Romeo has really stepped up his guitar playing. He has some amazing and memorable riffs, but also melodic, though intense, shredding as well.

The album starts off with "Oculus ex Inferni", with a steady, crunchy chord delivered by Romeo with a choir doing some vocals over top and Romeo's usual orchestral arrangements, but this time, the quality is MUCH better than say "The Odyssey". The orchestra actually sounds like a real orchestra this time and the mix with Jason Rullo's drums and Romeo's guitar is wonderful. There are also great moments of beauty where a soprano voice soars over the orchestra with an incredibly epic scope. A great opener.

Next comes "Set the World on Fire (The Lie of Lies)", which blends in smoothly with "Oculus ex Inferni". This starts of with some AMAZING, and arguably Romeo's best, riffage (though this album is full of incredible riffs). Eventually, the amazing Russell Allen explodes with an extremely angry and deep voice, filling the song with rage. If you've seen the album cover, you can understand what exactly is going on in this song. The chorus feels like a typical Symphony X chorus and Rullo's double bass patterns continue to fill this album, though not to the extent as his previous albums. It's definitely very tasteful and fits extremely well with Romeo's crunchy guitar work. Michael Pinnella's synth work is also brought more towards the front of the mix, though sometimes it can be hard to find. That's not necessarily a bad thing as sometimes when you listen closely, you can hear his extremely complex harmonies and melodies that go along with Romeo's solos. The song ends with another strong riff from Romeo with some great men's vocals as backups. This is the definition of what Symphony X set out to do. Create a symphony of instruments, but add guitars, keyboards, and drums to create an amazing experience.

"Domination" begins with another bass solo by Michael Lepond, reminiscent of "Sea of Lies", but still unique. Russell Allen once again adds his amazing voice to the song, making it truly creepy to listen to the incredibly dark lyrics. Russell's voice feels much more rough on this album and it's great to see a very different side of his voice. Towards the middle of the song, we have another classic Romeo solo behind Rullo's double bass groove. After that, we lead into some great keyboard work by Pinnella and then my favorite part. Pinnella's left hand continues with an extremely dark melody in front of a wicked guitar chord that creates one of my favorite moments on the album. The choir seems to be everywhere on this album, which is definitely a plus as it's done very well and very tastefully.

"The Serpent's Kiss" begins with another wicked riff from Romeo and afterwards, Allen continues painting a very creepy and scary picture with his voice, much lower than usual. Romeo's guitar shredding continues later in the song right before a great choir moment comes in. One of my favorite tracks on the album.

The title track is an excellent ballad in the vein of "The Accolade" beginning with Pinnella's piano and Romeo's acoustic. There's also a great bass line from Lepond as well. Allen's voice goes back to the more traditional style and it's great to hear him 'back to normal', so to speak, as this is the first time on the album he's in a much more choral voice. The chorus is very memorable and also quite beautiful. This is actually one of the better tracks on the album and it's good to see Symphony X still knows how to do a great ballad to slow down the pace of the album. Romeo's solos on this track are also unique and memorable.

I hate repeating myself, but "Eve of Seduction" is just another great gem on this album that's full of them. It begins with a sweet Romeo riff with Pinnella adding a great harmony on top of it. It then leads into sinister chords backed up once again by Rullo's double bass. This song kind of reminds me a bit of Dragonforce, but not as fast nor as repetitive.

"The Walls of Babylon" begins with creepy, Arabian-like female vocals, but then leads into another sick Romeo riff back up by amazing drums and also a male choir, reminding me almost of some of The Lord of the Rings soundtracks (and that's certainly a good thing!). It then delves deeper into the riff, expanding it and making it even better. Pinnella adds his own melody on top of it, which makes it even richer. Pinnella then does a great solo, not too fast, but definitely not slow. Finally, three and a half minutes in, Allen finally adds his now familiar sinister and angry vocals. The song continues in excellent fashion, later adding some amazing guitar and keyboard solos.

"Seven" is one of the harder songs on an album already chocked full of progressive metal goodness. It begins with an extremely fast solo from Pinnella backed up by Romeo's rhythm guitar, then leads into the main riff. This song reminds you of classic, fast-paced Symphony X songs with finger melting guitar and keyboard solos in between classic Allen vocals. Though it might remind of you of songs from previous albums, it stands unique in itself on this album. Later on in the song, we get some amazing tapping work by the bassist, Lepond, which reminds you of "Egypt" from "V". It works behind crunchy guitar chords and more chanting from the men's choir.

"The Sacrifice" is the second ballad on the album and it is just as well done as "Paradise Lost", beginning with the gentle vocals of Russell Allen backed up by piano and an acoustic guitar. The lyrics feel very heartfelt and emotional, which has usually been something lacking from Symphony X. The 'cheese' on this album is definitely less than on previous, not only making it easier to listen to, but adding a seriousness that hasn't existed before on SX albums. The album art definitely helps as it matches very well with the lyrics, which describe the destruction of paradise.

"Revelation (Divus Pennae ex Tragoedia)", the final and longest track, is the epic of the album. It definitely feels that way and works as a great ending to a truly fantastic album. Pinnella somehow manages to add some beautiful piano melodies behind the unforgiving guitar and drum work, which is truly great to listen to. This track has the most memorable of the work done by Romeo and Pinnella, with some absolutely astounding riffs, solos, chants, and vocal work from the choir. I don't know who they got to sing on this album, but it definitely sounds great. This is the most progressive song on the album consisting of the most solos and the most complex structure of all the songs. The song ends with the main riff from "The Divine Wings of Tragedy" as it slowly fades out, making it a truly fantastic track and probably my favorite from the album.

Overall, this is by far Symphony X's best work. Four and a half to five years in the making, it has definitely been worth it. Although some of you, including me, were wary of the lack of an epic, the first time for SX since The Damnation Game, they really put most of the work making the shorter songs truly amazing and memorable. This is Symphony X's hardest album, but don't let that keep you from buying it. It's still Symphony X and the classic SX elements are still there, but paired with some astounding new and unique aspects that could make this album my album of the year. Currently, it's tied for first with Redemption's "The Origins of Ruin", but we'll see how Dream Theater, Riverside, and Circus Maximus match up to them by the end of the year.

OriginsOfRuin | 5/5 |

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