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Symphony X - The Divine Wings Of Tragedy CD (album) cover


Symphony X


Progressive Metal

4.11 | 559 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars American cheese was never a favorite of mine. While I can appreciate a good piece of American Cheese, and even enjoy it when used appropriately, it will never be my preferred cheese. This is why The Divine Wings of Tragedy is a mediocre album. Symphony X may be one of the trusted names in riff farming, but they specialize in American cheese. This chunk of cheese might be comprised of all the right ingredients, but the right ingredients for a product you don't like won't do anything for you.

The analogy of course means this: The album has what metal fans will love. It has riffs that make you want to make that one hand gesture - the one that's like "I love you" in sign language only without the thumb - symphonic embellishments, strong, hairy man vocals, double bass drumming, and Greek mythology! However, the result is rather bland and often laughable to the mature ear. The band must not have had room in the budget for a real orchestra at the time, so the symphonic embellishments sound overtly synthetic, and to make matters worse, the production is treble heavy as you would expect from a typical thrash metal album. Sure, you may argue the point that this is metal music, why shouldn't it sound like metal? That argument makes sense, granted, but you forget that Symhony X is trying to be more than a thrash metal band half of the time. You also forget that thrash metal music is inherently bad. You can't make it sound better without altering the sonics in some way. Also, I find that the tracks under 6 minutes on this record (2/3 of the disc) are pretty generic, though filled with pyrotechnics. They tend to be predictable and containing at least one symphonic or heavy metal cliché. Even still, I can't deny that this is often better than their influences and peers.

Look, I have a clear bias and I'm sure it comes off as arrogant and elitist. The truth is, though, my gut tells me that if you like Metallica, I have better taste in music than you do. I'm not haughty and opinionated, I'm just speaking truthiness. But hey, if you like the general sound of thrash metal, go ahead and check this album out. I'm not going to deny the quality in the performance throughout the disc and the compositions of the longer songs. And, to be honest, they're not that much of a thrash/heavy metal band either. There are plenty of thrashy moments, but they are intermingled with melody, Queen-esque vocal harmonies, neo-classical leads, and technicality that most thrash metal bands wouldn't and/or couldn't dream of having. However, for those, like myself, who find that description intriguing, I must point you in the direction of The Odyssey, where the band not only sounds better (more full and dense), but they also wrote better songs (even the ones that are pretty standard please most of the time) and got that full orchestra for an extravaganza of a title track.

For me, The Divine Wings of Tragedy is formidable competition for V: The New Mythological Suite as Symphony X's second best disc, but both stand far behind their best, the aforementioned The Odyssey. That having been said, my opinions of Symphony X's discography aren't corroborated by most fans. So, those of you who are a bit more enthusiastic about what you have heard from this band may want to grab this one anyway. It might even be your favorite.

Moatilliatta | 2/5 |


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