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Symphony X - The Odyssey CD (album) cover


Symphony X


Progressive Metal

3.95 | 526 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

3 stars Symphony X is often seen as a clone of Dream Theater. While they are both heavy-ish bands with lots of progressive elements who focus on melody rather than the more brutal elements of metal, there are quite a few dissimilarities between their sounds. Quite possibly the most notable of the differences is their respective genres. While Dream Theater plays light prog metal most of the time and takes forays into other genres of rock, Symphony X tends to keep themselves almost entirely in the progressive power metal genre, with an occasional symphonic prog song here or there. This is one of the things that pulls the band down. Power metal has a tendency to create music that all sounds the same after enough listening, and Symphony X is no exception. The only difference is that Symphony X creates consistently good progressive power metal, even if their albums suffer from similarities in the music.

Another thing about this album is its heavyness. Normally lots of power metal is questionably 'metal' in terms of genre, mostly because of the huge emphasis on lots of melodies, a cleaner guitar tone, and more use of major keys. Symphony X is unquestionably metal, as the guitars are heavy enough to bring this album to a respectable heavyness, so that metalheads recognize it as a metal album.

That being said, the progressive nature of the album suffers occasionally from a more metal emphasis. Prog purists will scoff at the first three tracks, since all of them appear to be nothing but standard heavy power metal with a couple of symphonic embellishments. Although progressive tendencies brush up these songs quite a bit, the songs are pretty standard. Though they are written excellently, and every power metal fan will hugely enjoy them, as they contain a fast energy and lots of fast, albeit a bit over-the top guitar.

Of course, there is the track, 'Accolade II", which could hardly be called metal and is definetely more symphonic in spirit than the rest of the album. It bears resemblances to other more symphonic Symphony X tracks, like the original "Accolade" and "Communion and The Oracle", with soft electric guitar being backed up by wonderful chords played by piano and string synthesizers, with Russel Allen's vocals bringing another beautiful asset to the composition.

Fans will ultimately be drawn to the 24-minute epic at the end of the album, "The Odyssey". This is an excellent progressive metal track with a wonderful musical, as well as fine lyrical, illustration of the classic Greek tale of Odysseus returning to his hometown of Ithaca after their conquer of Troy. Tons of progressive elements are used in this town. Although sometimes a bit too similar to the overture section of Dream Theater's "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence", the beginning synthesized orchestral opening laced with metal instruments creates a wonderful introduction to a great epic track. The song goes through several energetic moods, from the longing "Journey to Ithaca" to the frantic "Sirens" section, covering all bases in terms of progressive metal. Even more spectacular than the opening is the middle instrumental section, "Scylla And Charybdis", where with no words the band gives the listener a perfect picture of when Odysseus has to brave the frantic waters between a rock and a whirlpool, ultimately ending in disaster (Odysseus' voyage, not the song). The track closes with epic vocal lines by Allen as Odysseus is crowned "Champion of Ithaca".

Overall, the Odyssey is a great album and should be looked into by fans of progressive metal and power metal. Although a bit derivative sometimes, there is still some creativity in Symphony X and there are lots of highlights to be found, but most importantly excellent progressive power metal.

topofsm | 3/5 |


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