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Symphony X - The Odyssey CD (album) cover


Symphony X


Progressive Metal

3.95 | 545 ratings

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Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer
4 stars There's a lot to like in this release by prog metal greats Symphony X. The Odyssey shows the band in transition, blending the ambitious and a nuanced song writing of their early releases with the more aggressive approach that knocked my socks off in Paradise Lost. As a result one gets the best of both worlds: a metal release that focuses on composition and a "total package," while also kicking up the intensity enough for those that gravitate towards powerful metal hooks.

One thing that Symphony X excels at, perhaps more than any other prog metal band that comes to mind, is their ability to create mood and vision through their performances. Each musician is fantastic, but the combination of their talents, over which Allen's fantastical lyrics and powerful vocals reach out and grab you, creates an effect that is just plain more fun to listen to than the bathos-ridden schlock about self-reflection and catharsis that dominates the genre. Symphony X doesn't feel like a band of blow-hard "auteurs", nor a band of instrumental elitists that demand to be heard through snapshots of excellence hidden within messy songs. They feel like a group of guys who like telling awesome stories through their music, and as a result the care about every note and every emotion conveyed in their songs. This appeals to me a lot.

Of course... it doesn't hurt that the musicianship in The Odyssey is first rate. Romeo's guitar is relentlessly enjoyable, especially his memorable riffing that compliments the vocal melodies. His soloing is also great through use of dramatic builds in intensity. The metal crunch isn't quite as intense as we'll hear later on albums like Iconoclast, nor is at as filled with as many face-melting moments of awesomeness - but it's still damn good. The rhythm section deserves special attention as well. Rullo's drumming doesn't impress with a profundity of fills, but instead through support of the album's many melodies. Whereas players like Portnoy give you razzle-dazzle, Rullo feels more like he understands how his drumming fits into the tone of the composition, enhancing it's drama and effect through restraint (when called for), and complex rhythms (when needed). As usual the bass player's role in metal music is often forgotten, but The Odyssey's warm production allows us to pick out most of LePond's melodic, and very complex, playing, giving the album a more dense palette to enjoy.

Metal fans will not be disappointed by The Odyssey; it's the total package of hard riffs, fantasy cliches, soaring vocals and solos, all wrapped up in a classy package by one of the genre's best bands. A great addition.

Songwriting: 4 - Instrumental Performances: 5 - Lyrics/Vocals: 4 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Prog Leviathan | 4/5 |


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