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Symphony X - Symphony X CD (album) cover

SYMPHONY X

Symphony X

 

Progressive Metal

2.88 | 156 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Andy Webb
Forum & Site Admin Group
Site and Forum Admin
2 stars A premonition

Symphony X is one of those bands that emerged in the 90s as a fusion of power metal and the quickly growing genre of progressive metal. At first, like many others, they stumbled, making more generic power metal than anything else. The compositions were pretty uninventive, with some quick neo-classical tricks and standard proggish tendencies to spice up the music with some cheesy symphonic effects and layers. Symphony X's debut album follows this formula pretty well, outlining what much of the band's discography will be like in the future. Michael Romeo shows his technical prowess throughout the album, ripping out shredding neo-classical solos meant to wow but are pretty mediocre overall. This particular album is really nothing special; it serves as a decent introduction to the Symphony X sound.

Into the Dementia is a one minute ambient intro with some effects and quiet guitar soloing behind the symphonic atmospheres. The song transitions into the true opener for the album, The Raging Seasons. The track opens with a nice riff and some symphonic layers to back it. This song is one of the better on the album, with some of the proggier and more creative riffs to compliment it. However, the guitar solos tend to detract from the song a bit. They consist of mostly tasteless shredding, with some awkward transitions to go along with them. Overall, the song opens for the album well, showing the listener the general Symphony X style without really showing you anything that special.

Premonition opens with a nice piano and symphonic piece, opening for a nice cheese filled prog/power metal riff session. The melodic qualities for the album are pretty poor, especially with the cheesy choir attempts backing Rod Tyler's voice. My favorite part of this track is the sweeping guitar/synth sounding layer behind the guitar chugging, but sadly it is rather quiet and not mixed well. Overall, the song is another pretty mediocre effort, continuing a theme for the album.

Masquerade is certainly my favorite track on the album and one of the better compositions of this period (the "power metal" period). Although it is very neo-classical centric, the riffing is some of the better seen on the album, and Tyler's vocal work is the best seen on the album. Although the stereotypical amateur mixing problems still remain to hinder the track, it does have some nice qualities and cool breakdowns. Overall, although it still isn't fantastic, it is decent.

Absinthe and Rue is one of the better and the worst tracks on the album. At some points, the riffing is great, with some great foreshadowing to Symphony X's future style. At other times, the melodic breakdowns and instrumental work is a little pathetic, with awkward transitions and other pretty bad qualities. Throughout the song it's really a swinging game, with really great verse and then a wall at the chorus with some pretty cheesy power metal riffing.

Shades of Grey is one of the more awkward songs I have ever heard. Although the future style of Symphony X can be heard at times with some really cool use of polyrhythm and adventurous chords, the vocal melodies are painful at times. The attempted jovial feeling of the track is a bit of a failure on the band's part, with Rod Tyler's vocal style not fitting the song at all. Overall the song has the seeds of the band's success, but also contains some of the band's worst moments.

Taunting the Notorious is mostly just a stereotypical neo-classical track, with some steady riffing and double-bass work. Nothing that special comes out of this track, with some pretty standard Yngwie Malmsteen-esque soloing, although the switches between the guitar and bass solos are quite nice.

Rapture or Pain is in the same vein as Absinthe and Rue. It has some really great parts, such as the cool intro, but also has some pretty awkward moments as well. The instrumentation in this song is some of the better on the album, with some cool polyrhythmic moments and atmospheric guitar riffing. However, just like much of the album, the vocal melodies seriously lack at sections. Overall, the song is again pretty mediocre; with some generic riffing and at parts great sections, and at others pretty bad parts.

Thorns of Sorrow is just like many of the other tracks: some interesting keyboard work with some neo-classical power metal riffs to go along with it. Overall it is again pretty mediocre; the majority of the song is just some pretty standard verse-chorus-verse structure and some uninteresting riffs and themes.

A Lesson Before Dying is the 12 minute epic of the album, and a culmination of all the stress of mediocrity that built up over the album. Opening with a mellow acoustic part and some pleasant melodies for a change, the song is the first dynamic to really show up on an album filled to the brim with fast-paced power metal riffs. The track takes a while to get started up, which is a relief, and shows the band's budding progressive metal taste as well. The track has some of the album's best compositional goodies, with some jazzy feels and great proggish atmospheres. Overall, the song is definitely one of the better songs on the album.

ALBUM OVERALL: The immaturity of Symphony X runs amuck on this album, but just like any child, the traits of maturity are sown all over the place. Although the majority of the album is just neo-classical riffing and over-accentuated and muddled soloing, it does have a few (a very small few) select redeeming qualities. From songs that show the band's developing styles to some interesting use of symphonic layers, the album is almost decent. However, the overbearing sense of power-metal and mediocre neo-classical influence, the album is seriously put down from where it could have been alright. Overall, it's not really very good, but is just a shy better than bad. 2+ stars.

Andy Webb | 2/5 |

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