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Symphony X - The Damnation Game  CD (album) cover

THE DAMNATION GAME

Symphony X

 

Progressive Metal

3.39 | 187 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

W.Chuck
3 stars The second album and a further step to the higher league of progressive metal. That's "The Damnation Game" by a band called Symphony X, consisting of the guitarist and founder Michael Romeo, the keyboarder Michael Pinnella, the bass player Thomas Miller, the drummer Jason Rullo and the new vocalist Russell Allen, who recently joined the band because their first vocalist, Rod Tyler, left the band. Russell Allen was a friend of Rod Tyler and I'm happy that he came to Symphony X and strengthened their vocal force, what was important to attract the population. I don't know if Symphony X would have had such a success with Rod Tyler, who had several lacks in singing and was often enervating for me, but I know it is a question of taste, some people may like it, I don't! In contrast to the other pieces there is no longtrack on this cd, although there is the 9 minute "The Edge of Forever" and the 2-part split "A Winter's Dream", reaching a full length of almost 9 minutes as well. Those to songs are the highlight, in my opinion. "The Edge of Forever" starts with a wonderful arpeggio followed by some powerchords, nice bass line and pretty guitar riffs and then an amazing atmospheric piano/vocal intermission, with an awesome voice of Russell Allen and an incredible fast bass! Now it becomes heavier, and more complex: powerchords in combination with fast riffs. Directly after that a lightening-fast solo battle bursts between the guitar and the keyboard, introducing a new great melody and the first verse accompanied by an acoustic guitar arpeggio, the piano and bass and the drums. For the second first some "light" powerchords join, then the drums speed up in 2 passages and after a fast guitar lick the chorus starts. That whole thing is repeated another time and the guitar solo follows, an interesting and varied one, the pre-chorus-lick again and another time the chorus and this track ends. Definitively one of Symphony X's best tracks! The first part of "A Winter's Dream", the prelude, is a dreamy, fitting to the tile "a winter's DREAM", track built up with a guitar arpeggio again and synth-chords. The second part, the ascension, is a fantastic track. Not very arduous, a bit mainstream, but with a great feeling and an awesome melody. It starts with a slow guitar lick and a fast piano line that descends into a dodgy riffing section, continuing to the first, guitar only, solo. The verse follows, a single fading powerchord introduces it and then you can hear the fantastic bass within the verse, afterwards this beautiful chord sequence with the lyrics "Taken on a journey."! Another highlight is the solo "battle" with the guitar and the keyboard, where the keyboard got some other synths, I guess adapted to the song. But the album offers more. For example the title track "The Damnation Game"! It starts with an adaptation of Bach's Solfeggieto which follows again after the stunning solo. Nice verse/chorus but the vocals sound not really good sometimes, but that's a problem on the whole album. It was the second release and they weren't rich, they didn't have the money to produce a well sounding album, so I understand, but it's is nevertheless a pity, but fortunately "The Odyssey" and "V" sounded very good and I'm sure the next album will sound well, too. Michael Romeo is a skilled producer right know and they have the money they need, now and I think sound problems are past. I've mentioned just 3 song right know, but there are 5 left : "Dressed to Kill" is a heavy song (the riff-type reminds of "A Fool's Paradise") with a nice solo and another classical piece : Prelude in c minor by Bach played by MJR. "Savage Curtain" is not a great song, but also not really bad, something in between. The musicianship is great, especially the drums, but the sounds lacks again and the rest is nothing stunning. But the 1st solo is really nice, the 2nd one is extremely fast, but nothing wonderful, but the 3rd is a fast battle between the bass and the guitar, that's quite interesting. "Whispers" is one of Symphony X's slighter songs, great melody and in no way heavy. "The Haunting" starts of with a solo at the beginning, like "Absence of Light" then it becomes a slightly progressive power metal song. "Secrets" surprises with a great drum work and is really interesting. Different from the other song, but still in the kind of a power metal song. So that was it. Problems with this album are definitively the sound problems, I've already mentioned, and some song are a bit bland after some time, that rarely happens, especially not with the following albums, but here I sometimes get the feeling of boredom! But I'm happy to have songs like "The Edge of Forever" or "A Winter's Dream" on this album, which are really stunning. Symphony X took a step towards their independent sound and prevented the way for their following great albums. It's really hard to give it a rating. I've given "The Odyssey" and "The Divine Wings of Tragedy" 4 stars and "The Damnation Game" is not on that niveau but also does not deserve a rating of 3 stars, that's the problem with just 5 possibilities, but I have to give it 3 stars, let's say 3.5!
W.Chuck | 3/5 |

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