Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography


Symphony X

Progressive Metal

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Symphony X The Damnation Game album cover
3.35 | 282 ratings | 18 reviews | 13% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

Write a review

from partners
Studio Album, released in 1995

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Damnation Game (4:32)
2. Dressed to Kill (4:45)
3. The Edge of Forever (8:59)
4. Savage Curtain (3:31)
5. Whispers (4:48)
6. The Haunting (5:22)
7. Secrets (5:42)
8. A Winter's Dream - Prelude (Part I) (3:04)
9. A Winter's Dream - The Ascension (Part II) (5:40)

Total Time: 46:23

Line-up / Musicians

- Russell Allen / lead & backing vocals
- Michael Romeo / electric & acoustic guitars, backing vocals, co-production
- Michael Pinnella / keyboards, backing vocals
- Thomas Miller / bass, backing vocals
- Jason Rullo / drums, backing vocals

Releases information

ArtWork: Thomas Ewerhard

CD Zero Corporation ‎- XRCN-1244 (1995, Japan)
CD Inside Out Music ‎- IOMCD 004 (1995, Europe)
CD Inside Out Music ‎- IOMCD 147 (2003, Germany) Special edition with CD-ROM section (multimedia) including band interview - part 2 of 4

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
Edit this entry

Buy SYMPHONY X The Damnation Game Music

SYMPHONY X The Damnation Game ratings distribution

(282 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(13%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(36%)
Good, but non-essential (40%)
Collectors/fans only (9%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

SYMPHONY X The Damnation Game reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by FloydWright
4 stars I'm really surprised nobody's done a write-up on this album yet! This is where SYMPHONY X first started to find their direction. During the production of The Damnation Game, the band all realized that their first vocalist, ROD TYLER, wasn't working out, so they brought in a friend of his by the name of RUSSELL ALLEN. This one change probably made SYMPHONY X; ALLEN really is that good. It's true that his voice in this album isn't quite as deep as it can be at times in albums like V, but that's understandable--he's younger and this is his first outing. Yet for a first recording, his technique is already impressive. For proof, you need only go to 4:05 in "The Damnation Game" for an absolutely inhuman demonstration of vocal control. Pop singers only wish they could do this, and use computers for the effect--but this is 100% natural. Unfortunately he follows this with something a bit...silly (variations on the word "damn"), but still, this is a very nice opening song.

In "Dressed to Kill", the song has a wonderful rhythm courtesy JASON RULLO and a lovely clean electric guitar; unfortunately, there are a few sound problems that mar the song. The entire album, as a matter of fact, is recorded a bit too soft, and that's one of the few reasons I have not to give this one 5 stars. However, "The Edge of Forever" is definitely a forecast of wonderful things to come in SYMPHONY X's catalogue. The harmonies are more obviously influenced by KANSAS here than they are in any other place, and probably this is one of the more proggy songs on the album. The chorus is nothing short of breathtaking, and it's hard to tell if the bass is real or a synth; it's not normal for a bassist to be able to play that fast! I have to wonder if it's a real bass or a synth! "The Savage Curtain" is a nice, standard metal track that's a bit short, but fun to listen to. I have to wonder if this title and the one before it are a bit Star Trek inspired!

The next truly outstanding song on The Damnation Game is "Whispers", which really rivals "The Accolade" from The Divine Wings of Tragedy as a ballad-type song. Again, the wonderful RUSSELL ALLEN harmones appear, and the lyrics tell a heartwrenching story of mourning for someone lost. "The Haunting", while musically not as distinctive as "Whispers", seems lyrically to be a sequel, taking place years later as the grieving man begins to doubt his sanity. I'm not exactly sure what kind of secret is being described in "Secrets", but lyrically that song seems to describe the cost of keeping something painful or shameful bottled up inside. Musically, it actually seems a bit 80s in the mixing at times, but not in a bad way. What mainly recalls this is the heavy revern on the drums and vocals, in addition to the synth-organ choir from MICHAEL PINNELLA. ALLEN's backing harmonies somehow manage to sound like RICK WRIGHT of PINK FLOYD; the ability he has to transform his voice is absolutely amazing, considering that at other times he sounds a lot like James Hetfield of Metallica!

The final track, in two parts, is also one of the best "prog moments" on the album--"A Winter's Dream". My favorite section is the beginning "Prelude", which almost seems to be from the point of view of the spirit this time, as perhaps he tries to reassure the person he left behind in the world of the living. This may well be the best vocal moment on the album (which is tough to pick out when you're dealing with a vocalist like this!), where the harmonies turn into a multi-layered round. The main vocal line actually seems to resemble Billy Joel a bit, but that may be in part because of the similar accents the two Northeastern vocalists have, and ALLEN's youth at the time. The lyrics are genuinely touching, if you don't mind getting sentimental. This then crashes into the more typical metal section, "The Ascension", which makes a fantastic closer for the album.

I may not like the cover art so much--but don't judge this "book" by it! Overall, this is probably SYMPHONY X's first truly excellent album; while obvious sound problems are apparent, and their symphonic side is not yet as fleshed-out as it will later be, I think every fan of the band's ought to have this.

Review by Bj-1
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Only eight months after Symphony X' debut album they had this one released too and you can clearly hear that the band really have improved stylistically. Russel Allen replaced their first singer for this one which was a really good move. Allen's powerful and dynamic voice is perfect for this band and really add a lot to the songs overall. This album works like a bridge between their debut and the forthcoming "The Divine Wings of Tragedy" as the signature SymX sound really started to establish here. The songs are in the melodic power-metal vein with progressive elements with the two mini-epic's "The Edge of Forever" and "A Winters Dream" being the best tracks here, both setting the standard for later SymX epics to come in the future.

This album is not essential but should be checked out if you are a fan. A couple of weaker songs drags this album a bit down but overall I would rate this one 3.5/5, this is a fine power-prog-metal album.

Review by b_olariu
4 stars A very fine album, with great keys anf fabulous guitars. This album is like is made in Yngwie Malmsteen laboratory, because here are some parts of the guitar who sounds just like Yngwie, very fast with a lots of notes per second. Russell Allen did a great job on this one, delivering a solid voice, just listen to Savage curtain. The drummer is one of the best i ever heared in prog metal. So a 4 star album and one of their best, no doubt. Recommended, similar bands Shadow Gallery, Yngwie Malmsteen (at some point). With this one Symphony X take wings and conquer the world with some of the best albums in genre.
Review by Flucktrot
3 stars The Damnation Game represents positive signs of future excellence for Symphony X. We have plenty of shredding from Romeo, relatively tasteful keys and arrangements from Pinella, an impressive debut for Allen on vocals, and even some progginess and experimentation in songwriting, though certainly that aspect would take quantum leaps forward in the future.

The Damnation Game, Dressed to Kill, Savage Curtain, Secrets. These four have very little of the criteria that are used to classify progressive rock, such as varying time signatures, complex arrangements or extended song lengths. In those respects, these are fairly typical advanced metal tracks. However, they also feature plenty of virtuosic playing, clever interplay with guitar and keys, and of course plenty of a young, raw Russell Allen. These highlights are more than enough to make for a better-than-average record. There is also just enough variety and catchy melody, as well as classically influenced instrumental breaks, to prevent these tracks from running together and feeling repetitive.

Edge of Forever. Without this track, Symphony X's next release would have been a tremendous surprise. However, this song is packed so full of great melodies and energetic performances that devotees had to be hoping they would take the great leap into full-on prog metal that they were capable of making. This song could have been placed on The Divine Wings of Tragedy and not seemed out of place. Great job all around, but I especially enjoy Pinella's light and tasteful work on piano. Without a doubt, the highlight of the album.

Whispers, A Winter's Dream. Here Symphony X show another side of their potential that they would also harness on later albums: the softer side. These tracks would not quite fit into the power ballad category, but they don't fit well into the prog metal classification either. That's probably why Symphony X sound so unique. Featuring great melodies, dreamy yet powerful keys and guitar, and restrained yet dramatic vocals by Allen, Whispers and the Winter's Dream suite add a variety to the album that really provides a necessary counterbalance to the harder singles.

A solid album by any standards, and a must-own for Symphony X fans, The Damnation Game will not disappoint. You will be treated to a few melodies that will be revisited in later albums (on Savage Curtain and the title track, for example), which has the effect of providing a cohesiveness to their entire discography. The composition is certainly not as ambitious as proceeding albums, but you can hear the seeds of serious prog germinating.

Review by progrules
3 stars With their second release Symphony X made a significant change compared to their debut. They replaced their lead singer Rod Tyler by the impressive Russell Allen. And that makes a whole lot of difference to the sound of the band. If I judge the songwriting there's not yet great improvement noticeable, just slightly. If I regard the whole album and compare it with the complete debut I'd even say it's more or less a copy. It was just with their third release the real improvement became evident but not yet with this one.

Most songs are good/pretty good but none of them really memorable. Apparently I'm not the only one who thinks that way if I look at the ratingaverages for both albums. Same as with the debut there are neither very strong songs nor really poor ones on Damnation Game. If there are highlights I would say The Edge of Forever and A Winter's Dream. Again this is a very obvious 3 star case.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "The Damnation Game" is the 2nd full-length studio album by US, New Jersey based power/progressive metal act Symphony X. The album was released through Zero Corporation (Japan)/InsideOut Music (Europe) in November 1995. Thereīs been one lineup change since the 1994 eponymously titled debut album as lead vocalist Rod Tyler has been replaced by Russel Allen.

While Tyler was a decent enough singer, the addition of Allen definitely boosted the vocal part of Symphony X and took that part of the bandīs music to new heights. Allen is an incredibly versatile singer, able to sing both high pitched clean vocals and go to deep range raw vocals. His voice is powerful and his delivery commanding. The Queen influenced choirs and harmonies are still a part of the bandīs sound.

Stylistically the material on "The Damnation Game" continues the combination of neo-classical influenced European power metal and the more raw thrash metal influenced US power metal style of the debut album. This time the progressive metal leanings of the debut are much more in focus though, and while I wouldnīt call "The Damnation Game" a pure progressive metal album, a combined US power/progressive metal tag isnīt all wrong. The many neo-classical guitar/keyboard parts (strongly influenced by Yngwie Malmsteen) of course bring the European power metal style to the table, and thatīs whatīs so interesting about this early era output by Symphony X. How they manage to combine elements from all three styles into something of their own.

The musicianship is high on all posts and the musical performances are one of the great assets of "The Damnation Game". Allenīs vocals have already been mentioned, but the instrumental part of the music is also very accomplished. The drumming is powerful and driving the music forward with great skill and conviction. The bass has an intriguing place in the soundscape and is audible, but itīs the keyboards and especially the guitars which steal the picture (when Allenīs vocals donīt). Great harmony guitar/keyboard runs, and some blistering solo work, which is both shredding and melodic. Both Michael Pinella (keyboards) and Michael Romeo (guitars) are virtuosos on their respective instruments.

Highlights include the opening title track, "Dressed To Kill", "The Edge of Forever" (the opening trio of tracks), and the closing "A Winter's Dream" suite. While some of the material on "The Damnation Game" may still be a little rough around the edges compared to subsequent releaess by Symphony X (a track like "Secrets" for example leaves a bit to be desired), the album is a highly professional affair, featuring a well sounding production job, well composed tracks, and brilliant musicianship. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars When I listened to ''The Damnation Game'' (the album) I always wonder where is the prog stuff out there? Still, some heavy metal parts are quite convincing and catchy. But needless to say, a song as '' Dressed To Kill'' has nothing to do with prog. The band performs pure metal music as their godfathers would do (you can name them).

I quite liked their good debut album; but this one is just a poor repetition and some reprise of some great metal bands in history. And the new lead vocalist is not impressive here either IMHHO.

Some short interesting parts might sound sufficient to integrate these vocals and conform into progressive music, but I don't belong to the ones who would praise this work. ''The Damnation Game'' holds little of progressive items IMHHO. But this is a genuine characteristic of the genre, isn't' it? There is of course no question about the skilled musicians, but only the song writing is way behind the expectations.

This album is just an average album. If ever you are interested into some metal sounds (but be aware that some very average heavy rock ballad mood is to be experienced during '' Whispers''), this is probably a fine album to listen to. The global mood is not that bad, but don't count on me to consider this album as a good one.

It is a serious let down when considered to their debut. ''Damnation Game'' is only heading the metal fans, with absolutely no prog feeling. You might like it, but I don't. The great guitar play from Michael Romeo saves the work here.

Still, only two stars for this album seem acurate. Prog is absent, metal is many.

Review by JJLehto
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

Review by EatThatPhonebook
3 stars With "The Damnation Game", Symphony X replace their old singer with Russell Allen, one of the best Power Metal vocalists out there. Here the band represents the same themes that were present in the debut; the opera, the theatrical melodies, the love for medieval legends and courts. Although this time the songs are generally better, as well as the production and the performances from each member. Here we finally find some really good moments that would have never happened with the previous vocalists(Now I promise you I won't bug you about this guy anymore), like in "The Edge Of Forever", or "Whispers". Actually, many songs here are quite good, it's just that some, like in the debut, just aren't, and in this case the album rating has to be lowered quite a bit.

I'm sorry to give this 3.5, but again, I know that with the band's following album, "The Divine Wings Of Tragedy", will a huge success and go down in metal history.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 stars Damn good!

After the promising but somewhat immature debut, Symphony X found their own musical identity with The Damnation Game. After having been totally impressed with the masterpiece that was The Divine Wings Of Tragedy, it is easy to be somewhat underwhelmed by this earlier album. But judged on its own merits, the present album is something of a forgotten gem of progressive Metal. While the Symphonic Prog tendencies of future tracks like The Accolade are not yet fully developed, The Damnation Game is a legitimate step on the evolution of the band. This is an appealing nice mix of Neo-Classical Metal in the style of the very best of Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force (if you haven't heard their excellent debut from 1984, you really ought to!) and tasteful symphonic Power Metal. The closets we get to symphonic Prog is probably during the excellent nine minute The Edge Of Forever.

The musicianship here is impressive and a clear improvement over the debut in most respects. The material is strong and the songs are all memorable. The vocals of Russell Allen appear here for the first time and most agree that his presence enhanced the sound of the band considerably. While nothing comes close to brilliance of The Divine Wings Of Tragedy, I think that The Damnation Game remains one of the band's best albums ever together with V: The New Mythology Suite.

Highly recommended!

Review by J-Man
4 stars Although 1997's The Divine Wings of Tragedy is where most fans see American progressive metal act Symphony X hitting their stride, I think the band also had a major success with their previous album, The Damnation Game. Released in late 1995, Symphony X's sophomore observation may often get ignored by more casual fans of the band, but some of the tracks here rival their best material. Whether its the hard-edged neoclassical power metal in the title track, the progressive nuances in "The Edge of Forever", or the anthemic chorus in "Whispers", everything about The Damnation Game just reeks of sophistication and class.

The result is an album that is a vast improvement over their somewhat underwhelming debut, in terms of both songwriting and aesthetics. With a strong production, a powerful new vocalist in the form of Russel Allen (just listen to some of the notes he belts out and tell me he's not one of the most commanding voices in metal!), and songs that overflow with both memorability and sophistication, it's hard not to be impressed with what The Damnation Game has to offer. This is an album that I have been frequently enjoying for the past year or so, and even after quite a few listens, I'm still blown away. If you like progressive power metal, this isn't one to forget about!

Review by The Crow
3 stars The Dammation Game marked the debut of the most classic line-up of Symphony X!

And of course, with the incorporation of Russell Allen the group gained exponentially in strength and quality. His voice has the perfect quality and tessitura for a group of these characteristics, far surpassing the previous frontman.

In addition, compared to their debut, the compositions are much more coherent and focused, resulting in a more attractive sound suitable for the general public, which would make them great and successful on successive albums.

Best Tracks: The Edge of Forever (long and complex), Whispers (incredible instrumental interlude) and the A Winter's Dream suite, specially the second part.

My Rating: ***

Latest members reviews

3 stars Symphony X are back with their second album and a sound that will quickly distinguish them as one of the top prog metal bands in the world. The differences between this and their self-titled debut are noticeable immediately. Besides the addition of powerhouse vocalist Russell Allen, who's in ... (read more)

Report this review (#1776469) | Posted by martindavey87 | Tuesday, August 29, 2017 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I'm not here to review this album. I'm want to say that in my opinion, this IS an essential album for any prog-metal fan to own. It marks the point where Symphony X found their path. After this album, everything started to fall into place very nicely. Look what they've ended up with: Para ... (read more)

Report this review (#595327) | Posted by Crimzonite | Saturday, December 24, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The Damnation Game is really a good album, perhaps one of the bests of Symphony X. Mainly why he is the first with the vocalist Russell Allen, the "sacred monster" of prog metal (Daniel Gildenllow only can compete with him). Then the vocals are no less than generous. Despite his horrific cover (a de ... (read more)

Report this review (#403114) | Posted by voliveira | Friday, February 18, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The second album from New Jersey progressive metal band Symphony X refines the sound of their uneven debut and introduces one of the genre's finest vocalists. Russell Allen brings Symphony X on the course to perfection; the experiments in song format, structure and vocal styles pave the way for t ... (read more)

Report this review (#82511) | Posted by Frankingsteins | Monday, July 3, 2006 | Review Permanlink

2 stars This is Symphony X' s second CD and it has similar style to their first "Symphony X", but now with the fantastic Russel Allen in voice. This record, as the first one, is not prog except for the two longs "The Edge of Forever" and "A Winter's Dream". Almost all the songs have a very power metal ... (read more)

Report this review (#74878) | Posted by Barla | Thursday, April 13, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#61031) | Posted by W.Chuck | Wednesday, December 21, 2005 | Review Permanlink

Post a review of SYMPHONY X "The Damnation Game"

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.