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Symphony X - Paradise Lost CD (album) cover


Symphony X


Progressive Metal

3.79 | 505 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Symphony X had fans waiting for a long time for this release, and they certainly have branched out. Is this different direction for the better? Some fans obviously find this album exciting and intense, but others find it noisy and oppressive. I regret to say that I'm one of the latter.

Now, to the most important issue (at least in my opinion): Is Russell Allen's voice "destroyed"? Well, from most of the album, you might be inclined to agree, as he sounds very much like a singer who can't belt out the high notes in tune and compensates by growling and remaining in a lower register. On the other hand, you have some moments (on the chorus of Set the World on Fire and parts of Revelation, as well as the mellow title track) where he sounds as good as ever. My take is that Allen stills has great control over his voice--this is exactly how he wants to sound. Why he wants to take one of the best voices out there and make it sound as if he is putting his larynx through a meat grinder is beyond me...Allen is probably the only person who knows for sure. At any rate, this is the first Symphony X album where the vocals are not a highlight, and that is a divine tragedy in itself.

How about the music? Well, after many listens, I am underwhelmed, especially in comparison to the rest of their discography. There is a lot of repetition, such as fast runs in 4/4 time, that get old quickly. Also, after defending against allegations of cloning on their other albums, I unfortunately hear a lot of similarities to Dream Theater here. Pinella's tasteful piano lines are mostly replaced by Rudess-like arpeggio runs (though not completely: see Revelation). I also hope it's just a coincidence that the opening of Set the World on Fire is nearly identical to the part of Dream Theater's In the Presence of Enemies just before the first vocals. Finally, we also have the lyrics. Take the chorus of Revelation: "Oh no, oh no, I've got to find a way. A way, a way, to rise above it all". These are certainly not terrible, but they also pale in comparison to their previous work: more simplistic and repetitive than I've come to expect from them.

Don't get me wrong--this is a solid metal album: fast, intense, with plenty of virtuosity (especially on Domination and Seven). There's also some defiinite prog: from the opening and closing instrumentals, to the highlight title track, to the extended adrenaline-pumping finale. There's nothing wrong with a band changing direction, but they also risk losing some of their identity in doing so. I need some variety, such as more material like the title track, to balance the oppressive, crushing onslaught of metal. I still look forward to more from Symphony X, but I do hope they choose not to continue in this direction.

Flucktrot | 3/5 |


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