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Symphony X - The Odyssey CD (album) cover


Symphony X


Progressive Metal

3.96 | 581 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

5 stars Symphony X is the Progressive Metal band I have been following the 2nd longest, next to Dream Theater. To add to this, The Odyssey is probably my favorite album by them, though it is very difficult for me to pick one album by them that I like better than all the others (this is a common difficulty with favorite bands I guess). So, to honor this, I am going to go track by track on this album:

1. Inferno (Unleash The Fire) - This is a great way to open an album - right away they prove their chops. This is the kind of song you just HAVE to practice your air guitar on as Michael Romeo proves he is a force to be reckoned with. And the keyboards add to this way in an almost conversational way - answering back the guitars note for note during the intro. Russel Allen shows of his versatility on this one, switching back and forth between an angry growl and clean, anthemic singing.

2. Wicked - This is a nice dark and heavy piece. Backing the dark, heavy riffs of the guitar and bass, the keyboards add an air of mystery. And Symphony X throw in some nice, subtle compound rhythms just when you think they're going to stick with common time.

3. Incantations Of The Apprentice - This one builds up very nicely - starting out with an orchestral sound, adding the heavy guitars, then some almost electronica sounding keyboards and tops it off with some heavy riffing. And they keep switching up the beat on this one, but somehow I find I can keep a good head-banging going. The song tells a great fantasy based, dark magic tale and the music complements this quite nicely. Once again, Russell Allen shows just how versatile he is, switching back and forth between growls and pure tones.

4. Accolade II - Perfect example of why this is one of my favorite bands. This is an incredibly dynamic song, and the band weaves a complex tapestry, piling different rhythms on top of each other to form tightly woven poly-rhythms. I love the usage of the keyboards as well, switching from symphonic sounds to piano and back. Again, the lyrics are deeply rooted in fantasy, and the music tells the tale so very well. There are dark, sad, mysterious, and triumphant moments in this song, and some killer instrumentals to boot. What a ride this one takes the listener on, and I am completely enveloped in the tale it tells.

5. King Of Terrors - The way this one starts out kind of reminds me of the way some of the better Metallica songs start out, but then they underlay the metal riffing with Arabic sounding orchestral keyboards, and the occasional keyboard "choir sound" (I love when Michael Pinella uses that particular sound). All throughout this song, Pinella shines, adding very interesting elements to the classic metal sound of the guitars. Man, this band is so good at telling stories with their music, and there are parts of this song where I can just imagine being in a dark graveyard with dark creatures and lightning bursts. I can't describe this in a way that does the music justice, but listening to this song I feel like a dark wizard has sent me on a frightening ride.

6. The Turning - Again the band starts things off with a bang and Michael Romeo shows off his dark neo-baroque style of riffage. The chorus has an arabic sound again, and Russell abruptly switched to a very aggressive growl. Again, I get this "evil magic" type of feel listening to this song.

7. Awakenings - This is one of my favorite pieces by the band, and oh does Pinella shine on this one. The keyboards are so incredibly versatile, switching through so many sounds - Pinella is like a master composer, and the band backs him perfectly all throughout the piece. Sir Allen shows off his softer side to start off this track, and once again you know right away the band is going to tell an epic tale. Just as you get the sense that they are building to something bigger - BAM! They hit you with some awesome metal riffage, and here's where Michael Romeo shows what a perfect coupling this band has between keyboards and guitar. To top it all off, this song has one of the most fantastic, dizzying instrumentals, featuring Michael Pinella's keyboards in a big way - it's like he wanted to show off just how many sound settings he's got. It's so easy to take for granted what an amazing keyboardist he is because Michael Romeo shines so brightly as the guitarist, but in this piece Pinella proves he is up there in the rankings of the top Progressive Metal keyboardists.

8. The Odyssey - What can I say about this one? Words simply cannot do it justice. This has long been my absolute favorite Progressive epic. The band invites you to come along with them as they take you on a journey, telling the tale of Homer's Odyssey in a way only they can. The song starts out with an intro that sounds like a movie soundtrack, marrying orchestral sounds with metal guitars in a way only this band can accomplish. Then Russell Allen sings brilliantly in a metal ballad style during the first section of the tale, as the hero prepares his tale. I'm not going to go through the entire epic and talk about every section, but this one is absolutely phenomenal - it's like a Metal Action/Fantasy/Epic movie. This is what Progressive Metal is all about - music telling a story, with complexity, dynamic energy, and thrilling virtuoso musicianship.

9. Masquerade - This is like a dark baroque metal opera. The operatic vocal harmonies, and harpsichord sounds of the keyboards give the metal riffing such an interesting flavor, and the instrumental section is like Bach went on a crazy murderous rampage. Brilliant end to a brilliant album.

dtguitarfan | 5/5 |


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