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Symphony X - Twilight In Olympus CD (album) cover

TWILIGHT IN OLYMPUS

Symphony X

 

Progressive Metal

3.75 | 257 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

W.Chuck
4 stars "Twilight in Olympus" is the fourth studio album by the American progressive-metal band, coming from New Jersey, Symphony X. After some intern problems Jason Rullo, the usual drummer left the band and was replaced by Thomas Wailling, who brought some new, fresh ideas to the album, but can't really keep to Rullo's fluency, variety and skill. This is the last album with the great bassist Thomas Miller, who did an amazing job for Symphony X, but lost interest for the music and left. He was soon replaced by Michael LePond, who is also a very, very good bass player as he showed on "V", "Live on the Edge of Forever" and "The Odyssey". Unfortunately they stood under pressure recording the album, caused by the label. According to the plan they where going to write another longtrack, called "Twilight in Olympus", which has never got on the album, I hate such labels. But fortunately they put the segments to write "V", but nevertheless it would have been great to have this longtrack, but I think they will never finish the song. The sound is quite worse on this disc. The drums sound crashing instead of harmonic, Russell Allen's vocals don't sound as perfect and beautiful, as on "V" or "The Odyssey" (the softer parts of course), and the guitar doesn't sound as powerful as on the following albums. But besides it's a quiet varied album, with many different techniques and kinds, virtuosic musician (great solos, riffs chord changes, etc by the guitar, amazing licks by the bass, stunning and varied drum work, incredible synthesizer solos and melodies and awesome piano pieces and of course a fantastic, diverse and powerful voice of Russell Allen). So here is some very accurate analysis of each song now!

"Smoke and Mirrors"

A fast sweeping arpeggio for the start and usual guitar riffing afterwards. The drums and the keyboard join after a certain period, supporting the guitar and leaving it soon after that, again and again. After a while the breaks are left out and they all play together. It changes to a fast repetitive keyboard line (high-up-high- up.) and a crunchy guitar. That is repeated two times and introduces the first verse, consisting of heavy and fast drums, slow changing synths for the vocal melody and a metal guitar drowned by the drums, but with some fast typical riff interludes. The vocals are quite powerful and you can hear Russell Allen is going for everything he can get out of his voice, and you can notice it's not an easy job for him. The tempo during the pre-chorus slows down but gets faster during the chorus again. Typical for Symphony X, there's a verse, a pre-chorus and a chorus, repeated two times, till an interlude follows which introduces the solo section. The second chorus ends up with a fast bass lick and the classical interlude follows, a variation of Johann Sebastian Bach's Mass in B Minor (BWV 232 : 1. Missa : Kyrie). The keyboard starts the solo battle between keyboard and guitar. The whole solo consists of two (yes, the "2" is the typical number of this song) keyboard and 2 guitar solos. Every single solo has a special similarity : the whole accompaniment stops for a short moment and the solo instrument continues alone. The solos are quite varied in tempo and you notice that Michael Romeo and Michael Pinnella have a fantastic feeling for rhythm here. At the end of the "battle", both, guitar and keyboard, quit the solo section with a closing solo and the first riff of the whole song is replayed until the chorus follows another time. A fast, complex drum outro finishes the song!

"Church of the Machine"

It starts it a passage full of computer effects fitting to the title "Church of the Machine". This part is getting louder and louder and the chorus begins, accompanied by some chords and a complex drum work. A final powerchord closes the first verse and the keyboard starts a nice interlude, a bit like the one at the beginning of "Through the Looking Glass"! The guitar joins after some time and goes on playing, the keyboard interlude stops and some other synths are playing the new melody, some fast bass licks, fast drums and the keyboard interlude is repeated. A cheering choir joins and a new guitar riff follows. This one is quite interesting I think, it's not a typical one for Symphony X, it's hard to describe, you have to hear it and there are soft synths again now, like the ones in "Smoke and Mirrors". During the first verse there are still the synths but the guitar changes to a triple-punch rhythm and a threefold guitar arpeggio is added. Russell Allen is singing with a rough voice again ending up soft, pleasant and kind with the last word of every line (most obvious in the third one). After a short pre-chorus, similar to the verse and a brief fast guitar lick the chorus follows. The special guitar riff, I already mentioned which came before the first verse is repeated again now, introducing a new interlude, featuring interesting vocals by Russell Allen, which are quite soft but kind of nasal now. "Cursed-we live in pain... " is the final line of this interlude replayed several times, getting quieter with every time, the cheering part comes again and the verse follows. Between the verse and the pre-chorus ("Between Machine and Man") another interlude (with vocals) is added closing with my last quote! After the pre-chorus and the chorus the solo section follows, featuring 2 guitar solos, building up quickly from deep to high and 2 key solos and a fantastic closing riff played by both again, reminding me strongly of the one after the guitar solo in "The Edge of Forever" (not melodic, more because of the structure and kind), introducing the chorus, which is played 2 times. After that the part of the beginning of the song (after the keyboard interlude) is repeated and exactly afterwards the keyboard interlude follows again, added by some more guitar work!

"Sonata"

It is based on the piano sonata Nr. 8 in C Minor (Pathetique) by Ludwig van Beethoven and starts with a piano, some synths besides and soon afterwards Michael Romeo joins, if you ever saw them live you will know those neo-classical piano-guitar parts. Romeo shows off much emotion and control here.

"In the Dragon's Den"

The fourth track begins with a fast complex drums only, which become faster directly afterwards added with a fast guitar riff. There is no long prelude. Right after this riff the synths start and the first verse begins. The drums aren't so fast and monotone right now, but have some short breaks in between, what looses up the verse. As usual the pre- chorus follows, consisting of 3 tones by the guitar. The pre-chorus is slower now. The first riff follows and the chorus is left out. Instead the verse is repeated. The Chorus follows after the next pre-chorus. The chorus is a great, atmospheric piece with fast drums, fantastic synths and a fast guitar. After that the solo passage follows, my favourite of this album along with the one of "The Relic". The first solo is a sweep guitar solo, another solo follows, then an extreme fast stunning bass tapping part and another guitar solo. Then the keyboard solo and a double lead solo for the end and the chorus is repeated. Some disjointed guitar fragment riffs finish the track.

"Through the Looking Glass"

Based on the story of "Alice", one of the figures of Paul Duka's histories, but probably better known as the Disney story. The track opens with a quiet keyboard bass and bass drum join with some hits and the actual keyboard melody begins, the same as the one at the beginning of Dream Theater's "Surrounded". The guitar joins with a solo and everything gets faster and a bit heavier through the chords. The keyboard play a short solo and the guitar a riff. A break the keyboard starts another melody, play it alone but then the guitar play some powerchords and riffs in fragments. The guitar powerchords rhythm turns to a gallop and soon afterwards a slow guitar solo follows, a closing powerchords fades and opens the path for a new piano melody with some synths in the background, playing alone first, later added by the other instruments, when the first verse begins. The guitar is left out here and so the verse is dominated by piano and bass and of course the drums. The drums get faster - a short break and another theme follows where the guitar is added with some powerchords and later a fluent riff. The piano ceases, the synthesizers are remaining and the guitar leads it to a heavier direction. With some staccato powerchords the second verse is accompanied. The piano came back during the verse, a short interlude with a faster gallop guitar, still with the piano and another theme commences with rougher and a bit more aggressive vocals by Russell Allen. A very powerful scene here (during their tours they used to take a break here and stop the song). The guitar changes again to single lengthy powerchords with a sustaining voice of Russell Allen. A slow guitar solo begins, getting fast after a short time and slower again then. Now the atmospheric part begins. A piano again and some single powerchords as well and kind of choir synths. This is my favourite part in the whole song. It's getting quieter, a new synths follow a guitar arpeggio and still some other synths in the background the keep the atmosphere. Russell Allen joins with whispering "Alice." several times. The next verse begins with a keeping accompaniment, very soft and emotional without bass or drums. Some background vocals are added and some effect sounds as well as Alice's voice ("I'm not afraid.."), after Russell Allen's warning ("Alice...Alice...Run Alice...Run") from the beginning of this part, The voice could be some female person they engaged or a voice copied from a movie of "Alice". The arpeggio is getting slower and slower, ceases the drums come in and a heavy guitar riff follows, without other instrument, kind of the one in "Evolution" or "Wicked". The other instruments join and the next verse starts, heavier again now. Afterwards something like a chorus follows, softer with some single powerchords and a nice piano accompaniment. Now there are some staccato chords (changing from single-punches to double- punches) with synths in the background. Afterwards a harmonized arpeggio follows with some powerchords/riffs and synths in the background and another verse follows and then the real chorus of this track ("Dream on.") with some backing vocals single sustaining powerchords and a nice piano melody. Another riff is played, reminding a bit of the one at the beginning of the third part. With the joining of the other instruments the next verse commences. Afterwards there is a harmonized arpeggio again for the next verse and the chorus is replayed. Then there is a short interlude with some heavy powerchords and the solo of the beginning of the song is repeated but a whole step deeper and with some fast interludes. The piano comes in again now and the are again some snatchy powerchords to support. The distance between the powerchords enlarges and the single powerchords fade and the bass play a nice fast lick again. The bass lick changes a bit and gets slower now, some synths assist and the guitar plays monotone, staccato chords with the same distance to each other. Now the solo section begins, with a guitar solo at the opening, 2 keyboard solos and another guitar solo. Afterwards the solo session end with a new guitar riff and a fading guitar tone. The chorus follows two times and the song is finally over.

"The Relic"

Starts off with a guitar powerchord and a keyboard, playing several notes with some kind of a new age synthesizer, the drums join for a short moment, the guitar adds 3 powerchords (same as during the beginning and the first movement starts lead by a medium high guitar riff. Another guitar riff follows, deeper now and slower and the second movement follows. A sequence of guitar chords, the sequences are repeated, but divided with a riff before the repetition. Finally 8 double punches introduce the first verse, build up with a metal lick, medium-fast drums, new age keyboard synthesizer melody. After the first half of the verse it's set a few notes higher. During the pre-chorus, the drums play awesome (medium speed) and some guitar chords as accompaniment and for the melody. Directly afterwards, the chorus follows, a typical power-metal chorus. Guitar powerchords, split up with a fast sequence of the same note, very fast drums, some synths in the background and typical power-metal vocals and as usual a fast bass lick in between. Another interlude follows with new age synthesizers, a great bass line, a fast guitar riff and ends up like the second movement. The verse, the pre-chorus (with other lyrics and only half as long as the first one) and the chorus are repeated and the solo section starts. The first one is by the guitar and a blend of alternate and sweep picking. The second solo-movement starts with powerchord and two different keyboard melodies start, the drums and the bass joins with a lick repeated and the guitar comes in with other solos, sounding different from each other probably two imitate to different guitars and at the end there's a second- guitar solo and the chorus follows and once more but two steps higher.

"Orion the Hunter"

It starts with a guitar, playing a mixture of powerchords connected through slides and single notes in between. The other instruments follow soon and the second part of the intro comes. Here the keyboard is added, the guitar slows down and reduces to powerchords and afterwards there's an arpeggio too! The first verse ensues, a staccato guitar riff as accompaniment, as usual and also some typical slow synths for the melody. The pre- chorus is some steps higher but accompanied like the verse (except the riff which is more fluent now) and has a nice melody. The first movement of the song is replayed and is also the chorus another arpeggio follows with emotional and expressive vocals. The whole things is repeated and the arpeggio two times and the solo section begins starting off with a guitar solo. Soon afterwards a keyboard solo follows, afterwards a short interlude with a keyboard line and powerchords, a short break, silence follows, the same thing goes on with a different guitar and the keyboard also changes a bit later and for the end another guitar- keyboard battle with 2 guitar and 2 keyboard solos. Finally the first movement is repeated a fast riff by bass and guitar follows and the chorus is replayed 2 more times and a variation of the chorus finishes the song.

"Lady of the Snow"

Starts with an arpeggio [attention : Listen to this arpeggio and afterwards to the part in Dream Theater's "Dance of Eternity" at 0:32!] of the guitar and an Asian (Japanese) sounding synthesizer. Sounds of the wind strengthen the atmosphere. The first verse soon follows with almost female sounding vocals by Russell Allen who proves his enormous range here. At the end some guitar punches, with a monotone distance but changing dynamics, and some orchestral specials with some "shouted" vocals of Russell Allen follow. Afterwards a fantastic, slow, atmospheric, emotional solo by Michael Romeo comes. The second verse is quite soft with relaxed drums and an arpeggio as accompaniment. The pre-chorus and the chorus surpass different melodies but keep overall the same. There is another interlude, an arpeggio, playing alone and additional guitar solos, also very slow at the beginning, getting a bit faster in the middle and at the end but perfectly fitting into the song. A nice original track with a great atmosphere and awesome vocals. As it started, with an arpeggio, it finishes and the album is over.

I think it's a very good album, but unfortunately not a masterpiece, maybe it would have been one with the track "Twilight in Olympus", I mentioned at the beginning of my review, but they couldn't finish it and the obvious lacks in sound also prevent it being rated as a masterpiece and so this album gets it deserved 4 stars. Recommended to fans of Symphony X, Dream Theater and people who like Power Metal or Progressive Metal could try this album!

W.Chuck | 4/5 |

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