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Symphony X - Paradise Lost CD (album) cover


Symphony X


Progressive Metal

3.79 | 515 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars |B| Probably the band's most underrated and misunderstood work, and probably always will be.

Many Symphony X fans were held in anticipation for quite some time for this album's release, and I'm sure the band wanted very much to give them something that would top their previous works and progress the band's sound even further. In some ways I think they were successful in this endeavor. I think the band might have "sold out" a bit to the metal community with this work, but remarkably enough they managed this without surrendering really any their artistic credibility, which might be less obvious the casual symphonic prog-snob.

It's safe to say that this album was their least cheesy release. The band themselves believed this to be their best work to date, and I think it would be more appreciated in the prog community if people were less concerned about their obsession with keyboard-driven composition and asymmetric-time-signatures and more concerned with musical expression, artistic craft, and a band being genuine about creating good music they love.

With this composition the band presents us with possibly the most drastic change of sound in their career. Paradise Lost is significantly darker and heavier than previous works. There are many more tracks in a minor key, and the guitar riffs have taken an even more central part in importance, much to the sacrifice to the orchestration and keyboard parts, save a few tracks on the album (especially the album title track, which is far more characteristic of their earlier work). Even in the production of the guitar takes a central forefront role and the keyboard pads and patterns are turned down to prevent an overly thick sound. However, being that the guitar work is as good as it is, the tone, the near flawless and quite expressive/inspired performance, this is little to complain about, especially given the band's aim to further their appeal with the heavy metal crowd. It's safe to say Michael Romeo and his talents have taken an even further central role in the band's sound. My main complaint with this is that sometimes the guitar covers up the added classical sonorities that pop up their heads every so often in heavier songs, such as the guitar entrance on the repeat of the string/choral section of Serpent's Kiss.

The band also brings us a concept album, with the theme of every track having a relation with something Biblical or that references Bible-influenced works, such as Paradise Lost, the written work. In fact having an understanding in Biblical history and the specific work Paradise Lost greatly increases one's appreciation for the lyrical themes and how they're musically and vocally expressed. There is an especially influence on Satan, which makes sense with "heavy metal brutality" and is displayed, ironically, with much elegance and thoughtfulness.

As far as the tracks themselves, each is very central to its own sound and theme. Each track has its own lyrical theme, and there is a strong relation of the lyrics to their expression from the vocalist and general composition, which scores big points in my book as I'd consider that the highest form of musicality. the introduction piece Oculus Ex Inferni is probably my favorite, molding modern film-score composition (which involves some medieval influences, always a treat!) with metal sonorities. Very impressive composition from a classical point of view. The following three tracks are all of the same vain, very prevalent guitar work, good displays of technical musicianship, broad chord progressions encompassing the ever prevalent guitar riffing. There's a lot of compositional creativity with all three. Russel Alan gets a little carried away with his growling sort of vocals, especially in Domination. Paradise Lost is among the band's best work of their career for certain, beautiful piano and string composition, very convincing and authentic composition. The rest of the album has a far balance between the heavy riffing and classical nuances of previous tracks, though the quality level of the work being generally slightly less inspired (especially Seven), but commendable high-quality work nonetheless. The Sacrifice is must like the album title track, yet with its own uniqueness and some really awesome harmonic language and modulations. Again I think Russel Alan gets carried away with being overly growly and emotional with his singing. I absolutely love the way the entire album is wrapped up at the end of Revelation, the sections of previous works, the choir, the pizzicato strings, it's all so tastefully executed.

I can't see any true fan of prog-metal having much to complain about this album, and I'd say it's essential to anyone who's a part of that listening community, and a solid album for those who are not. The production is spectacular, and the composition avoids the disgusting stereotypes of power-prog (and what stereotypes there are are fulfilled with convincing dignity to the composition). Paradise Lost should seriously be as hailed as highly as The Divine Wings of Tragedy and V: The New Mythology Suite, and if anything considered less cheesy than either, though. My only main complaint is that the album is a bit too long for the variation in timbres that it offers (which is greater than most metal out there.

Isa | 4/5 |


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