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Symphony X - The Damnation Game CD (album) cover


Symphony X


Progressive Metal

3.35 | 231 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Symphony X's second album, and their first with Russell Allen, who is a HUGE improvement over the first vocalist, this is a good album, but not my favorite by the band. I always have to make these category notes...but I personally don't consider Symphony X a "progressive metal" band but "symphonic metal". Whether that is a sub genre is up or debate, just want to mention that strict proggers won't find much prog here. OK.

On that note, there is some serious talent on this album. Michael Romeo is the dominant force, with his solo-like riffs and even crazier shredder, neo-classical solo's. You will also hear, however, atmospheric power chords, chuggy palm muting, simple tremolo picking, and a staple I've noticed in Symphony X, the stand alone scalar run. I guess what I'm saying is, this guy is good and you will hear it all. Do note though, there is ALOT of metal and madness, and some mind melting guitar solo's.

The keyboards are quite heavy on this album. The keyboard work varies from following Romeo's crazy riffing, to atmospheric backgrounds, to sometimes being the only instrument during quiet, minimal sections. There are of course the trade off guitar/keyboard solos a la Malmsteen...

Russell Allen. An amazing vocalist. Power opera, "scruffy" and everything in between. A powerful voice, and almost always perfectly fit with the music. Truly makes the music great. Rullo is one of my favorite drummers, partly because his drumming is subtle. Mostly double bass, somewhat simple beats he is more of a musician than technical drummer. Good for the music, but he does have some talent. Perhaps it is not heard as much as newer albums. The bassist is also quite good, but you will be hard pressed to hear it. Buried under the music or mixed out, not sure.

OK, enough raving about their talent. I like 6 songs off this album, "The Damnation Game", "Dressed to Kill", "The Edge of Forever", "Savage Curtain", "The Haunting" and "A Winter's Dream (The Ascension)". Standouts are the Damnation Game and Savage Curtain. The other songs I found lackluster and very draggy. In the 6 I mentioned there are moments of drag as well. Perhaps this album is one of those "ship at sea" albums where it is all there but not quite right, just drifting along.

The Damnation Game has some of the most "proggy" elements on the album though they are quick, and pretty devoid from most of the rest of the album. I must say one of my favorite parts of the album is in the title song, 1:27 in. After a slower, heavy section a crazy guitar/keyboard harmony kicks in, with double bass under it and Allen's voice over it. Wonderful stuff! This song also has some technicality and weirdness in it!

A pretty good album, not great. I personally only like 6 of the 9 songs, their is some drag as well. However, talent abounds here, along with decent song writing, (though not the band's best). Should probably be avoided by regular proggers but a good CD for prog metal/symphonic prog/metal fans, or prog fans with more tolerable palettes. Also note, the album can be intense, but is more so than it is heavy often. For the people mentioned, not needed but a good pick up.

Three Stars

JJLehto | 3/5 |


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