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Symphony X - Symphony X CD (album) cover


Symphony X


Progressive Metal

2.87 | 237 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The now legendary first Symphony X album brings memories of times when most prog-metal fans around the world were getting acquainted with this band destined to become the major icon that it is nowadays for some years... and while they were getting acquainted, they were getting impressed by the sequence of albums that lead to the band's first masterpiece, The Divine Wings of Tragedy. "Symphony X" shows the band still on the working process for the installment of its proper voice in the realm of prog-metal. Tyler's timber and style do not fit here but it doesn't mean that he's not an efficient vocalist: he would fit better in a glam heavy rock band such as (Twisted Sister) or a hard core band, but not a prog-metal unit with heavy neoclassical overtones and a pompous gusto for dramatics in both lyrics and vocal arrangements. Regarding the instrumentalists, you can tell that Pinella was the last entry by the way in his keyboard inputs are drowned by Romeo's riffs: the use of layers, orchestrations and solos is far lesser than in subsequent albums. The sound production doesn't help etiher when it comes to translating the band's intended cohesion into the recording environment. Arrangements are unevenly unsuccessful all along the repertoire: you can tell that most of the genius at writing is already present in 'Absinthe and Rue', 'Shades of Grey' and the epic 'A Lesson Before Dying', but you can also imagine (being a prog expert melomaniac) that the linkage between motifs and the tempo variations don't always gel. The powerful sequence of the introductory instrumental and 'The Raging Season' doen's accomplish its full power because of that, precisely. 'Masquerade' and 'Premonition', on the other hand, are very successful. The former is a standard for future 4-minute songs with mini-epic pretensions that will abound in the band's following albums. The latter is a rare example of Symphony X's romantic side, sounding more related to Marillion than to Kansas or Yes (their most usual prog references) in its symphonic nuances: it is almost like a lost Fish-era marillion song with Satriani as additional guest guitarist. Weird as it may sound on paper, actually the global arrangement flows perfectly. 'Absinthe and Rue' is an awesome mini-epic that unfortunately fails to fulfill a 100 % of sonic cohesion. 'Shade of Gray' is a lovely ballad that could have been more moving than it actually is had the arrangements and sound production been more inspired. 'Taunting the Notorious' is wild, effective nd catchy, while the sequence of tracks 8-9 bears better arrangements and less impressive melodies than 'Absinthe and Rue' or 'The Raging Season'. The closing epic is magnificent to an important degree: the sung parts are mostly slow (the lyricial vibe is preserved even when Rullo turns his drumming fast), depicting the emotion and mentality around a person's inminent death, and it is in the sung parts that we find the best arrengements. The last section features magical classic guitar and eerie synth mingled with a typical thrash metal coda. The instrumental interlude is ambitious and each motif is very interesting, but the whole doen't totally work as such. In a few words, 'A Lesson Before Dying' is a very good closure with much potential to become great that wasn't ultimately accomplished. "Symphony X" is indispensable for the SX converted who aim to understand the origins of the music they love; for any prog collector with a prog-metal sensibility, it is only a very good item that may interest those who generally enjoy the band's catalogue.
Cesar Inca | 3/5 |


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