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Symphony X - The Divine Wings Of Tragedy CD (album) cover


Symphony X


Progressive Metal

4.12 | 536 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Symphony X really grew fast musically, with their first classic line-up delivering a real prog-metal masterpiece on their third attempt - "The Divine Wings of Tragedy" is the result of the optimum maximization of the power, melodic drive and tasteful complexity inherent to the neoclassical oriented trend of the prog-metal genre. Allen had already made quite a mark in his SX debut "The Damnation Game", but here he really shines at utilizing and showing off his trademark vocal versatility. The sound production is also on par with the brilliancy of the guitar and keyboard inputs (riffs, solos, orchestrations) and the solid dynamics of the rhythm duo. The prog (Kansas, ELP, Yes), metal (Malsteem, Iron Maiden, Arch-era Fates Warning, Stratovarius) and classic rock (Deep Purple, Queen, Uriah Heep) influences are perfectly blended in the writing processes and arranging procedures - you can tell all that from the final result. Either this one or the follow-up "Twilight in Olympus" are the perfect entrance doors for the uninitiated: the regular prog collector might give the band a fair chance, while the prog-metal head (or the regular metal head with a yearning for something more challenging than usual) can have satisfaction guaranteed in this magical mystery tour of clever pomposity and inspired compositions. The album kicks off quite powerfully with the Maiden-meets-Queen 'Of Sins and Shadows', which states a momentum of vigor and stamina properly prolonged by 'Sea of Lies' (Iron Maiden-meets-Kansas) and 'Out of the Ashes' (DP-meets-Stratovarius with an extra ounce of Yes). None of these tracks are epic in themselves, but together they fill a sequence of magnetic pomposity, in no small degree based on the persistent melodic richness and the clever use of the basic motifs among the alternating/dueling guitar and synth solos. The first moment of ceremonious spirituality is brought about by 'The Accolade', one of the most beautiful SX compositions ever. This tale of knighthood, bravery and sacrifice offers a very noticeable improvement in the band's most ambitious department (anticipated by 'The Edge of Forever', from the previous album). The melodic drive is impeccable, spotless, cleverly polished. The multi-keyboard counterpointing section is clearly a homage to both Gentle Giant ("Free Hand"-era) and Kansas ('Miracles out of Nowhere'): a bright Pinnella moment. 'Pharaoh' and 'The Eyes of Medusa' return to the accent on metal: the former works as a mini- epic that includes a "cinematographic" interlude (couldn't this piece have been arranged as to sort out a real epic?... I wonder aloud); the latter is a moderately sophisticated rocker that sounds to me more related to the 70s-80s era of heavy rock than to the 90s stuff. A very good song, by the way. 'The Witching Hour' pretty much follows the pattern of 'Out of the Ashes' - Stratovarius and Malsteem are real cornerstones for the shaping and development of the band's core sound. And here comes the namesake suite. the heart of this masterpiece. This 20+ minute monster track comprises everything one could want from the neoclassical-oriented trend of prog-metal. Any definition and description of what SX is basically all about might as well mention this piece as an example and everything would be clear right away. The linkage through sections, the creepy yet majestic introductory chorale, the pompous instrumental passages, the masterful deliveries by Allen, the sense of drama that is built up through the last two sections,. I could mention lots of elements regarding this suite and all I could say about each one of them is that it is great in form and works great in the actual development. 'Candlelight Fantasia' has the duty of closing down the album after the suite and it does so in a beautiful manner. This tale of lost hope and frustration is solidly based on magnificent melodies and effectively fluid arrangements: once again Allen's vocal brilliancy proves crucial for the actualization of the song's mood. A great closure for a prog-metal masterpiece. "The Divine Wings of Tragedy" is an undisputed cornerstone for the maturation and consolidation of prog-metal as a genuine prog rock trend.
Cesar Inca | 5/5 |


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