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SYMPHONY X

Progressive Metal • United States


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Symphony X biography
Symphony X is an important progressive metal band that has been born on the fertile American progressive metal scene. The band came into existence when guitarist and composer Michael Romeo recorded a demo tape entitled "The Dark Chapter" with the keyboardist, and future band mate, Michael Pinnella in early 1994. Romeo distributed the tape to various recording labels and, due to the tape's reception in Japan, he got himself a record deal in the Land of the rising Sun with the now defunct Zero Corporations Label.

For Symphony X's first album, the 1995 self titled, Michael recruited bassist Thomas Miller, drummer Jason Rullo, keyboardist Michael Pinnella and vocalist Rod Tyler. Despite not being a bad album, Symphony X is widely considered to be the band's worst album for two reasons: 1 - the album has a relatively bad production; 2 - it does not has Russell Allen. That is because Russell not only has better singing abilities than Rod Tyler, but also because Russell Allen is one of Symphony X's main composers (alongside with Michael Romeo), so the lack of his presence is really something to be noted. In addition, the self-titled debut is the only album that features Rod Tyler as the band's singer.

Only six months after the release of the debut, the band releases their second album, called Damnation Game. Tyler had to leave the band, so Russell Allen was recruited as a replacement. He has stayed as the band's singer ever since.

Damnation Game represents the start of the current band's style for the same reasons why the majority of the fans do not like Symphony X: with Allen in the band and the start of his collaboration with Romeo, there were set the foundations for the band's "traditional style". On the other hand, Damnation Game is still something of a raw album, specially when compared with subsequent releases.

In 1997, the band released their third output, entitled The Divine Wings of Tragedy. This album can be considered their breakthrough album, as it was with Divine Wings that they managed to reach a wider audience than before. The feedback from the specialized media also helped the band greatly to get a foothold in Europe as well as keep growing in Japan, their biggest market so far.

The Divine Wings of Tragedy also can easily be considered the band's first full progressive metal release. Not that their other albums so far didn't had any progressive hints, but this was the first one to fully embrace such tendencies...
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The OdysseyThe Odyssey
Inside Out U.S. 2004
Audio CD$9.31
$5.16 (used)
IconoclastIconoclast
Extra tracks · Deluxe Edition
Nuclear Blast America 2011
Audio CD$6.99
$6.39 (used)
V: The New Mythology SuiteV: The New Mythology Suite
Metal Blade 2000
Audio CD$10.73
$4.17 (used)
Paradise LostParadise Lost
inside out 2007
Audio CD$6.45
$2.47 (used)
The Damnation GameThe Damnation Game
Limited Edition
Inside Out U.S. 2004
Audio CD$9.49
$8.06 (used)
OdysseyOdyssey
Limited Edition · Extra tracks
Inside Out import 2002
Audio CD$16.82
$3.96 (used)
OdysseyOdyssey
Import
Imports 2012
Vinyl$22.74
$28.76 (used)
Divine Wings of TragedyDivine Wings of Tragedy
Limited Edition
Inside Out U.S. 2004
Audio CD$49.61
$12.58 (used)
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SYMPHONY X discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

SYMPHONY X top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.88 | 156 ratings
Symphony X
1994
3.38 | 188 ratings
The Damnation Game
1995
4.09 | 433 ratings
The Divine Wings Of Tragedy
1997
3.75 | 259 ratings
Twilight In Olympus
1998
4.15 | 533 ratings
V: The New Mythology Suite
2000
3.94 | 441 ratings
The Odyssey
2002
3.80 | 411 ratings
Paradise Lost
2007
3.79 | 378 ratings
Iconoclast
2011

SYMPHONY X Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.81 | 54 ratings
Live on the Edge of Forever
2001

SYMPHONY X Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

SYMPHONY X Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.93 | 19 ratings
Prelude to the Millennium
1999

SYMPHONY X Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

2.58 | 10 ratings
Rarities And Demos
2005

SYMPHONY X Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Divine Wings Of Tragedy by SYMPHONY X album cover Studio Album, 1997
4.09 | 433 ratings

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The Divine Wings Of Tragedy
Symphony X Progressive Metal

Review by micky
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars Prog-Metal. Haha. I have so much fun holding it by the nose and kicking it in the ass around the forums. It does have a 'kick me' sign attached to it for many whose last bout of acne was when Genesis was showing their true talents and tearing up the pop music charts. It is a interesting point of discussion within prog circles. While prog fans are eager to embrace and call their own music which expands the boundaries of rock music and bring a sense of art and culture to rock music's traditional mundane subject matter, prog metal is one of the great, and rare, dividers of the otherwise tight prog rock community. One could devote an entire essay as to why prog-metal divides the community so and an album review is definitely not the place for that so what I will do is relate my experiences and thoughts with a traditional prog-metal album that hit home where none that I had listened to before had. As I have not reviewed an album in 5 or 6 years, and have been a vicious critic (though often tongue in cheek) of the genre, I thought this album an appropriate one to review.

It should be natural for listeners like me to love prog-metal. I enjoy prog, and love metal. Yet for some reason the mixture of the two just never really connected. I had long thought I had simply been missing a group or album that connected with me. I think a large part of it was continually having Dream Theater pushed upon me as the 'gateway' band and finding that group was for myself, and likely many others, exhibit A why prog-metal inspires such negative feelings. While the musicianship was stellar, the songwriting was not on par with the abilities of the musicians. The sum of the parts can often exceed the sum of the groups work. The vocalist was also a HUGE turn-off for me. Some years ago I reviewed their 'masterpiece' and, while I hated the album, I still rated it quite highly as it was regarded a masterpiece of the genre - and who am I to disagree. I did often long to hear a consensus masterpiece of the genre that I really enjoyed. Well? I finally found one? this album.

Why does this album connect to me whereas others have not? That begins with the incredible vocalist of Symphony X, Russell Allen. Allen's singing is powerful, clearly inspired by one of the greatest of all metal vocalists, the late great Ronnie James Dio. Vocals pleasing to the ears and so full of color, and nuance. In this band I found a vocalist who is a vital component of a group's sound, not a distraction to that sound, or a mere deliverer of lyrics. Musically this album is prog-metal, but what does that really mean? As it is a metal album, you want to hear great riffage, and it is the riffs themselves that often separate great metal from the not so great. The riffs are driving and brutal in their intensity and often drive me to fits of insane headbanging. It is music full of intensity, and life, one of the main things I and many others love so much about metal. If this was just a metal album, however, I wouldn't be reviewing it. As a prog fan, I want to hear great musicians playing their asses off and with some sort of nod to what made prog, prog: the merging of 'high art' and music. Prog for many has come to be a password for long compositions, and outstanding technical ability. That is especially true, in my opinion, in classic prog metal and shown not in an ensemble context but through the soloists. The album has plenty of great solos, mandatory I suppose for prog-metal albums, but what I love about this album is the relative lack of emphasis on the soloists, thus the album has less a feel of 'look at me' and there is more an emphasis on group playing and the songs themselves. Yes, there are solos galore but - unlike some albums I've heard - I thought the solos fit well within the music itself and were tastefully done rather than jarring departures from the original song itself.

Prog to me is so much more than about technical ability. Otherwise we'd be reviewing bluegrass and country albums. Prog is about, and art-rock was based upon, highly educated musicians merging classical music and classical literature and creating a thinking man's music. This is what appeals most to me about this album. The album has direct inspirations and quotations from classic literature and classical music. Songwriting is not an easy task, especially in prog, with its penchant for extended song lengths and albums based on themes. Many have tried, and most have failed to deliver unique concepts that can hold a listener's interest throughout the course of a full album. What I perhaps love most about this album is it is NOT some original kitschy concept, but a album whose musical centerpiece, the nearly 21 minute title track, is musically grounded in one of the great classical pieces immediately recognizable to music lovers. It is an album a music lover, especially a prog fan, can immediately gravitate to. One special bit of praise, and what in the end make this a masterpiece and worthy of recommendation to those like me unable to make progress into the world of classic prog-metal, is the overall length. Many modern albums simply drag on FAR too long and would be best served by trimming the least effective tracks and making stronger overall albums. At 65 minutes it is only slightly longer than traditional long play albums and does not approach the excess of many bands that use the CD format to expand albums out to nearly 80 minutes in length. It is tightly packed and it never overstays its welcome.

In summation this is, I believe, an album that those who are not fans of prog-metal but enjoy both root forms can like, even love. An easy album to grade, 5 stars in my book, and for the site I agree it deserves the classic prog-metal album status it has. It is a prog-metal album that non- prog-metal fans might really enjoy.

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 Iconoclast by SYMPHONY X album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.79 | 378 ratings

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Iconoclast
Symphony X Progressive Metal

Review by Progulator

3 stars For me, Symphony X was originally one of those bands where you buy their albums but don't really "get it" until you see them live. That was my experience when they delivered an exceptional performance in 2002 in San Francisco in the absence of tour-mates Blind Guardian. After seeing them perform songs like "Egypt" and the "Odyssey" live, it just clicked. Fast forward 9 years and we are now seeing a very different band from what I once heralded as the perfect marriage of progressive and power metal. The release of Paradise Lost was a dramatic, even jolting departure from most everything I loved about this band as they took a less symphonic, more stripped down approach toward more straightforward instrumentation and composition.

The release of this year's Iconoclast was a day that I was both eagerly awaiting and dreading. Would they be delivering an album that could come close to the meticulously motif driven era of V: The New Mythology Suite? I wasn't really expecting that, but I hoped and prayed that it wouldn't be another Paradise Lost. Strangely enough, it kind of was, but somehow they managed to capture the Paradise Lost style in a way that, disregarding a few clunkers, turned out to be a collection of pretty good songs.

To put it plainly, this is a decent 80 minute album that would have been a great 50 minute album. While there wasn't anything that recalled the epic scope of the Symphony X of old, there is about 50 minutes of really great songs. Anyone who knows me can probably guess the songs that I hated (and consider to be the worst songs of the band's career), but even if you don't feel the same, I think that most people could agree that Symphony X could've really tightened up the awesomeness of this album by cutting it down to include only the absolute best songs.

So, without further distractions, the review:

The ugly: As Symphony X is an extremely talented band, please take into account that I do not mean to criticize them as musicians or artists. I do feel that my review should reflect my honest opinion of the album. I'm not gonna lie, as far as my tastes go, there were a few songs that left me very disappointed. Dehumanized is the only one I'll mention by name. While this one sports very uncreative and painfully repetitive lyrics, sludgy riffs that are very uncharacteristic of the band, and hooks that get stuck in my head for the wrong reasons, I'll leave it up to you guys to decide which tracks you might have left off the album. In all fairness, there is a lot of great material on this record; I recommend making use of the skip button because you will still have plenty of great tracks to listen to. Don't let the ones you don't like ruin it for you.

The awesome: As I've been getting more and more into cyberpunk and distopyian themes lately, the content of this album thrilled me. Technophobia and the disembodied and image ruled alienation of internet culture, there's simply a great textbook approach to sci-fi going on here; plus, it comes out more and more with every anime I watch (Serial Experiments Lain, anyone?).

Musically speaking, Symphony X manages to write a bunch of songs with really killer in your face guitar riffs. By the way, we see a slight return of the keyboard in the production, which really made me happy. The opener, Iconoclast opens up with an ultra-dark theme and sets your head spinning with wild riffs in odd time. From there we get a number of songs that find a good balance between powermetal, progmetal, and thrash, with smart rhythms that are still rocking, good atmosphere, and pretty decent vocal melodies.

The songs that ended up doing it for me the most where the final tracks off each disc: "Rein in Madness" and "When All is Lost." "Rein in Madness" seemed to be the only song that truly captured the sci-fi/cyberpunk/dystopia mood, from the synthy and grooving beat that kicks off the piece, to the hauntingly beautiful clean section about 5 minutes in where we get a moving vocal delivery from Mr. Allen that spells out a clear message of future dystopia. However, "When All is Lost" was the true surprise and gem of this album. What seems to open up as merely a decent ballad suddenly evolves into a fine example of progressive rock which melds a tiny bit of the glorious feel of "Through the Looking Glass" with a blend of modern and classic prog elements. Did you really hear a Hammond style organ in there? Indeed, and it was glorious as this song goes from amazing to incredible at about the 5 minute mark. This piece really shows Symphony X doing everything well without having to be really metal, adding some much needed variety to their latest output. In terms of vocal composition and melody, this is a song that completely reminds us that once upon a time this band really delivered majestic and soaring melodies rather than the quick "hooks" of late. If there's a piece that holds hope in my heart that Symphony X will do great things with their next release, it's this song.

In the end, I think there's a little something for everyone in Iconoclast. Figure out which songs you like and pretend that you're the producer. Take the good songs and use the skip button on your player to pretend the others don't exist. I'm pretty convinced that you'll find that there is still plenty of great material on this album where you could trim it down by 4 or 5 songs and listen to a fantastic 50 minutes of music that will make you smile? and bang your head? of course!

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 V: The New Mythology Suite by SYMPHONY X album cover Studio Album, 2000
4.15 | 533 ratings

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V: The New Mythology Suite
Symphony X Progressive Metal

Review by FragileKings

5 stars I was a bit wary of buying a symphonic metal album. Though my musical roots are in metal and I enjoy symphonic music in rock, I was concerned that it would sound too much like stereotypical power metal with its grandiose musical productions backed by an orchestra. An initial sample listen to something by Symphony X only seemed to confirm my suspicions. However, after picking up a few progressive metal bands like Dark Suns, Disillusion, and Suspyre, I became interested in getting some more prog metal into my collection and I saw that this album has received high ratings on both Prog Archives and Metal Music Archives (granted many of the reviewers are the same people).

It was actually surprisingly difficult to get this CD. On Amazon Japan it was only available as an expensive import and even though it was on Amazon.com for under $12, it took almost four months for the item to become available. The wait was well worth it, though.

From the opening track, my ears were pricked up as symphonic sounds mingled with metal for a very dramatic introduction. The first real song, "Evolution (The Grand Design)" has a fantastic riff and canters along with an abrupt halt after the solos and an instantaneous return to that great riff. Musically, much of the album explores various metal moods, some near thrash, some mellower and even gentle. Were it just for the guitar, bass and drums, it would be a pretty decent metal album.

But it's the keyboards and the symphonic approach that enrich the soundscope of this album. There's synthesizer and piano often steeped in classical vibes and even borrowing from well-known classical compositions as if to authenticate the symphonic conjecture in the band's name. The actual symphony parts come in mostly during the few "segues" between the longer songs, though sometimes I can't quite be certain whether the instrumentation is an actual orchestra or if some instruments aren't just a very good-sounding synthesizer. No matter, these boys aren't just trying to fake being cultured and sophisticated. They made the musical adaptions themselves.

Vocalist Russel Allen sounds like your average decent metal vocalist with clean vocals that can sport a rough edge a la Fates Warning, but he can also go a bit Dio at times. I also find myself thinking of Joe Lynn Turner at certain moments, perhaps when the songs sound a little Y. Malmsteen-ish.

The first half of the album really had me interested with a plethora of sounds and approaches. The longer tracks 5,6 and 8 offer up some captivating music and the segue "On the Breath of Poseidon" sounds fit for a concert hall. There's some wonderful rapid bass playing in a couple of songs too which I love, especially when it's contrasted with a mid-tempo beat and some atmospheric keyboards and guitars, like on "Egypt". But after a while I felt that the road had been paved and there was nothing new to come. The band had pulled everything out of the hat during the first 8 tracks and were now rehashing established themes. Yet before the last few songs had finished, there were still some pleasant surprises to crop up. Yes, the road had been paved but some new twists on the established themes were to occur and I felt the album had enough "favourite moments" to last through to the end.

Among the several albums I received around the same time, this was one I really felt like listening to a third and fourth time before I had properly listened to some of the others. That's a good sign. In the end, I have to conclude that as a progressive metal album it is really well worth listening to.

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 The Odyssey by SYMPHONY X album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.94 | 441 ratings

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The Odyssey
Symphony X Progressive Metal

Review by King Manuel

2 stars This album is since a number of years in my collection. Haven't listen to it too much as it always left me totally cold. Today I sought lets give it another try. And I am disappointed again. Especially the first three tracks make it hard to go beyond that. Main reason for this are the atrocious vocals. It gets a bit better after that but all in all what we have here is an relatively uninspired metal album without any soul and feeling. Technically sterile guitars with really hard to stomach vocals. I am tempted to only give one star. As the album has some good moments here and there lets not be too harsh and give two stars.

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 Symphony X by SYMPHONY X album cover Studio Album, 1994
2.88 | 156 ratings

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Symphony X
Symphony X Progressive Metal

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams

3 stars This was not a bad start for Symphony X. In the mid-nineties, when this album was released, prog- metal was not really in style, and I commend them for getting it out there.

The album seem to do best when the band gets closest to classical riffs (appropriate to their name). Michael Romeo stands out, with his precise guitar technique, giving a clear impression of what Bach may have done had he lived in this age. Other pieces do not fore quite as well, with some prog wedged into all too familiar metal sounds.

Singer Rod Tyler, who left after this album, does a decent job. His voice often approaches Freddy Mercury's range, and the vocal overlay production adds to the Queen-like effect (which I enjoy).

All in all, while nowhere near the best of Symphony X, this has quite a bit going for it.

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 V: The New Mythology Suite by SYMPHONY X album cover Studio Album, 2000
4.15 | 533 ratings

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V: The New Mythology Suite
Symphony X Progressive Metal

Review by Menswear
Prog Reviewer

5 stars What if Dream Theater never existed?

These guys would probably be Prog Royalty. Although Dream Theater's technique is phenomenal, Symphony X is a well kept secret weapon for someone who wants a musical challenge. I can say it's been a while since I gave them a try, and their latest left me somewhat cold due to an overdose of aggressivity.

Luckily for me this album has more nuances and the rendition of the story is interesting, and might I add, very interesting. Musically the band is border insane: Romero is an absolutely gorgeous (not physically) guitar player. He shreds old school a la Malmsteen, sporting also the look of the Sweden Strato God. Pinella on keys is becoming one of my favorites fast and Allen is extraordinary as the front man; Allen becoming a safe value in Ayreon albums, I am impressed by his personnal style (even the backing vocals are great), not rending another Labrie imitation.

Let's not forget the visual side of the band! I'm not talking about their ugly mugs but of the artwork. I admit, was the first thing that attracted to me. I think the cover is easily one of the most memorable of the metal world, making the whole package even more attractive. My only (and minor) critic would be that band is not really visiting other roads than the Power Metal; t's a well oiled machine, but only giving us a full serving of neo-classical Crunch.

All in all a dead serious album, not giving you a moment to breathe and full of cinematic imagerie.

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 Iconoclast by SYMPHONY X album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.79 | 378 ratings

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Iconoclast
Symphony X Progressive Metal

Review by Progrussia

3 stars Symphony X is getting tired of the symphony. They have been stripping away classical influences in recent albums so all that remains is basically a thrashy power metal with some keyboards. There is nothing wrong with this approach (not original but at least a change) , as long as the riffs are good. And they are. But everything else is perfunctionary. The same old overpowering gruff bellowing gets tired after many songs (Russell Allen seems to be reserving his melodic side for his side projects), the lyrics are bad, the obligatory ballad is a carbon copy of their previous ballads, and don't even get me started about the concept. Rule of the machines. Come on. Guys, you remain a talented and often imitated band, but if you want to stay relevant, you gotta try better, in my opinion.

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 The Damnation Game  by SYMPHONY X album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.38 | 188 ratings

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The Damnation Game
Symphony X Progressive Metal

Review by J-Man
Prog Reviewer

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!

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 Symphony X by SYMPHONY X album cover Studio Album, 1994
2.88 | 156 ratings

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Symphony X
Symphony X Progressive Metal

Review by J-Man
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Like a lot of debut albums, the first observation from Symphony X is often overshadowed by the rest of their discography, largely due to its mediocre production values and lack of dynamic frontman Russell Allen (who would join the fold with their next album, The Damnation Game). Both of these flaws, particularly the powerless production, prevent this self-titled 1994 release from reaching its full potential, but I wouldn't say that it's as non-essential as most others tend to believe. Especially considering its 1994 release date, Symphony X is quite an ambitious release - I can't think of any other albums that blended heavy-edged US power metal with neo-classical, symphonic, and progressive stylings before this one. It's a unique album when examined historically, and although Symphony X would tighten up the formula on future releases, this observation is still pretty enjoyable.

There are plenty of killer tracks like "The Raging Season", "Rapture or Pain", and especially the highly progressive "A Lesson Before Dying" here, so even though Symphony X is not as memorable as the band's future releases, it isn't anything to scoff at. It's an interesting debut that was unfortunately marred by a powerless production, but it still is a recommendable listen to fans of Symphony X.

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 The Odyssey by SYMPHONY X album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.94 | 441 ratings

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The Odyssey
Symphony X Progressive Metal

Review by Second Life Syndrome
Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

3 stars I love Symphony X's masterpiece "V:The New Mythology". I also am a fan of "Paradise Lost", although it has more to do with the source material than with the actual album. However, I really have to force myself to listen to these guys. I'm not a big fan of power metal, gruff vocals, or the like. However, I do enjoy a couple albums.

I decided I would listen to "The Odyssey"; again, more because of the content than the music. I'd heard that the title track is an epic masterpiece. Well, this album is definitely...Symphony X. That's about it. "V" was amazing because of the melody, symphonic arrangements, amazing vox, fantastic guitars, and original drums. This album must be where the plunge started: where the descent to a less proggy power metal began.

This album is interesting and okay. There are lots of riffs, if that's your thing. The vocals are gruff and unchallenging. Any symphonic segments sound VERY cheap and VERY 90's--- almost like the badly composed keyboard music on Hercules or Xena: Warrior Princess. Amid all of this, the drums even fail to impress: Nothing new is really displayed here. The lyrics are kinda derivative and lame, something that "V" and even "Paradise Lost" did not have. I don't know. I just feel like my avoidance of Symphony X is quite justified by this album. Aside from a few enjoyable parts; corny, neo-epic filler is all I really hear here. Should I even bother listening to "Iconoclast" or anything earlier than "V"? If I do, it'll be a while.

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