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Symphony X: Paradise Lost

Symphony X returns with its first album in umpteen years, a massive 10-song excursion that hits harder than anything we've heard from the New Jersey outfit since the dawn of this decade. Leaning this time on the metal rather than the progressive, Russell Allen and Co. synthesize the weight of Megadeth, the unabashed aggression of Slayer and the fine refinement of peak-era Kansas (OK, that's not metal, but so what?) in a cauldron of intelligent, guitar-driven fury that leaves the listener quivering in ecstasy and hoping that it won't be another half decade before the X sets sail again.

Guitars rule the day here, as Michael Romeo lets loose on tracks such as "Revelation (Divus Pennae Ex Tragodia)," "Set The World On Fire" and "Eve Of Seduction." But those are just three of the instances where the six-string maestro and his friends fire on all cylinders, where the band seems as tight and right and impossibly powerful as it could ever be. Other highlights include "Paradise Lost," "The Walls Of Babylon" and the aptly-titled "Domination."

At a time when Megadeth is finally fulfilling the promise they've demonstrated all these years and when Dream Theater seems poised to strike harder than ever, Symphony X seems primed for the big league success its long pursued through a host of too little heard albums. Here's hoping that that dream comes true. In the meantime, the band has given us a feast to feast upon for the long term.


Track Listing
1. Oculus Ex Inferni
2. Set The World On Fire
3. Domination
4. Serpent's Kiss
5. Paradise Lost
6. Eve Of Seduction
7. The Walls Of Babylon
8. Seven
9. The Sacrifice
10. Revelation (Divus Pennae Ex Tragodeia)

Added: January 3rd 2009
Reviewer: Jedd Beaudoin
Score:
Related Link: InsideOut Music
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Language: english

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Symphony X: Paradise Lost
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2009-01-03 15:17:48
My Score:

****This is a review of the 2008 Deluxe Edition of Paradise Lost******

The overwhelmingly positive response that Symphony X's "Paradise Lost" had generated almost necessitated that a Deluxe Edition be released for it with the only question remaining in the minds of the bands fans would be when. Fast forward a year and a couple of months after it pummeled their fan base and we find such an edition hitting the shelves and this one not only features the original CD that we have long been enjoying but a DVD that presents a 5.1 mix of the album, as well as their videos that were used to promote the release.

I have to admit that while I think the whole music being delivered on a DVD is pretty cool, I am not yet completely sold on this 5.1 mix stuff and that is purely based on the fact that I don't have the super duper stereo to properly enjoy it. I'm not in the minority here because this is still something new for a lot of people but despite this I did play the DVD to see what it might offer the listener in general. The audio is a little better even out of my standard player and television and the menu allows you to choose the playing of the "Paradise Lost" album or to watch the two videos that they did. We get films for "Serpent's Kiss" and "Set The World On Fire". If you choose to play the album via the DVD player, you will not only hear the recording but see visuals of the albums artwork on your screen. They up the ante here as well and give you the lyrics to enjoy as the song progresses. It might sound weird, but one can easily do their own Symphony X karaoke if they are fast enough and find such a thing of interest to them. Who needs Guitar Hero when you can sing along with the real Symphony X in the living room? The packaging for the album is now a fold out digipak that holds the CD and DVD but there isn't any additional artwork on this to enjoy that is worth speaking of. The booklet delivered is the same as we found in the initial release.

The question is would I buy this and the answer is not really, because if I owned the original CD and didn't have the necessary audio implements of destruction to best manage the 5.1, this was not all that worth the extra money for. However, each of us is different and you might disagree and want it for the two videos and the chance to watch the clips of the art on the television. It is a good thing to entertain buying if you don't already have the album, because if you have not yet sunk your teeth into "Paradise Lost", you are really missing out.

Symphony X: Paradise Lost
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2009-01-03 07:56:07
My Score:

It has always been said that good things come to those who wait and clearly from the moment that Symphony X fans around the world began spinning the bands latest opus "Paradise Lost", that the five plus years time in between albums from the group had not been in vain for them to wait thru. As a Progressive Metal album this is both a stunning display of top notch musicality and also a relentless offering up of melody and crunching groove. The adventure into the new release begins with a thunderous intro by way of "Oculus Ex Inferni" and this instrumental opener leads you to the rousing "Set The World On Fire". It is with this track that I felt we were finding the band at their technical best as guitarist Michael Romeo delivers riffs that can only be defined as super human again and again. I was impressed right from the beginning with this one and while I had not expected the band to disappoint the listener, I was quite awed at just how much they chose to up their personal game at the craft with the new album. Lead vocalist Russell Allen really showcases a powerful set of pipes very early on and while he is not one of those soaring eight octave types, he really is one of my favorite Metal singers based on the purity of his voice. There are times on the album where he reminds me a little of Ronnie James Dio of course, but that is never a bad thing when you are in a Metal band. "Domination" continues the journey and while it begins with some fast paced fury, it switches up the tempo when the vocals come in just a little bit for diversity. The chorus finds the speed picked up again and the guys keeps swapping back on forth to keep the listener engaged while the tune progresses. I'll skip around a little and speak about what comes off as the bands ballad for the release which we find on "Paradise Lost". It's not a true ballad per se, but the feel is smooth and the vocals from Allen softer than we have ever found him to my knowledge. The pace picks up a little midway and when it gets to the chorus you can almost envision the audience lighting up their lighters or using their cell phone displays to bring the moment a little more in the visual sense. In any case we are only half of the way in and we can easily find out just how well crafted the release is and how hard Mike Romeo worked on the compositions we received on this one.



A fast favorite of mine was "Eve Of Seduction" because this one tore the walls off in terms of heaviness and drive. I lean to the faster tracks for the most part anyway and was happy that the album offered up a healthy dose of this kind of number. "Seven" also proved to be rather satisfying to me as a close second. The Prog-Metal diehards will enjoy "Walls Of Babylon" quite a bit because while a rich in content type of track, it begins with a lengthy instrumental introduction that finds the guys all offering up their chops for the listener's enjoyment. The album is named after the epic poem by John Milton and while this is the case I didn't find that the lyrical content of the album was following any type of concept or singular story. Their titles seem to tie the tracks together but in all honesty I felt that they were fully able to stand alone and discovered that the listener doesn't need to listen to track A in order to understand what is happening in track B. It's safe to skip around the disc on this one my friends but I feel that you will start it and let it run straight through.



Packaging is always something that I find appealing especially when it's been done with a sense of purpose or is very involved in its detail. As result I was quite pleased to find this going on with the cover art and pages of the booklet that is included with the "Paradise Lost" CD. The cover and interior illustrations were done by Warren Flanagan who according to research had previously done art direction for some notable Science Fiction and Horror movies. The artwork surrounds the lyrics which I was already happy to find presented, and the drawings depict the epic struggle of good versus evil. They are rather dramatic in their visuals and should interest the bands fans without question. As far as how these battles turn out well, I will leave that to your own discovery to see who looks to be leaning towards victory in them as it plays out. Fans of "The Odyssey" should have no problem finding "Paradise Lost" to be their new favorite Symphony X album because the band has truly done their homework and not only kept with the times in terms of sounding fresh amidst the mass of Prog/Power Metal bands that are on the endless rise today but by also showing us that no matter how long a band has been at their game that there is always the chance to improve and raise the stakes. It is also the perfect jumping on point for the new fan who will not feel excluded by not having followed them for years and years. Great work guys, this was really impressive.


Symphony X: Paradise Lost
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2008-12-21 12:03:47
My Score:

****This is a review of the 5.1 Mix Special Edition of Paradise Lost****

Ok, we already know what an absolute monster Paradise Lost is. SPV/InsideOut have just release a 2 disc edition of this killer release from Symphony X, complete with an extra DVD featuring a stunning 5.1 mix by Jens Bogren of the entire album for all you stereophiles out there. So, if you have the capability, pop this sucker in your DVD player, crank up the speakers, and revel in the full sound of Paradise Lost as you've never heard it before. In addition, you get two fun enhanced HD videos of "Set the World On Fire" and "Serpent's Kiss", perhaps the two hottest tracks on the CD and featured in the band's set on their tour of the album. Packaging wise, much is the same here, except that you have a deluxe digipack now for the 2 CD's, and the 'cut out flames' from the original release are now relegated to just a drawing of the flames as you open up the digipack. An amazing release just got even better, although it's a shame they couldn't throw some live footage at us on the DVD.

Symphony X: Paradise Lost
Posted by Murat Batmaz, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-06-26 03:30:36
My Score:

It took five long years for Symphony X to follow up their previous album The Odyssey. Their new disc, Paradise Lost, based on John Milton's work, resumes several threads in their music that was largely prevalant on its predecessor. The band continues to mine a solid, crunch-filled heavy metal stomp, retaining some of their progressive elements throughout the process. However, on some of the songs, there is a noticeable shift towards a more groove-oriented approach, driven by Michael Romeo's unmistakable rhythm work. For instance, "Domination", although not among the most innovative tracks on the album, bears a certain similarity to Pantera in its tenacious, corrosive riffing, while also taking on the band's classic neoclassical qualities.

As stated previously by the band, the CD is perhaps their darkest work thematically. Paradise Lost is not a concept album, but it explores similar themes, mostly revolving around the fight between good and evil; and in order to portray these moods successfully, vocalist Russell Allen opts for more use of harsh vocals, thus eliminating some of his soaring vocal harmonies that defined albums like The Divine Wings of Tragedy and V. The style of vocals employed through most of the album may not sit well with some of the fans on first listen, but given the dark subject matter, there is no denying that the album benefits from this singing style greatly. On "Set the World on Fire", the band exudes rapid-fire riffery and super aggressive vocals in a V-meets-The Odyssey style, but be forewarned: the song is crushingly intense.

It always strikes me as funny whenever I hear metal fans complaining about an album of their favourite band being too heavy or aggressive. Allen's voice is a lot grittier for a reason. He employs the grit for more elaborate dynamic expression. He instilled that style years ago, way back on The Divine Wings of Tragedy; this album sees him taking that style a step further. Similarly, guitarist Michael Romeo uses a range of different scales to implicate various emotions this time around. I absolutely love how he takes a main riff and then does interesting permutations off of it through the whole record. Michael Pinella also boosts that tone in the songs, best heard on "The Walls of Babylon", where a combination of strong guitar fury and pounding drum attack is wrung through the piece, resolving with dark choirs and a cool guitar "chorus". Even Mike Lepond gets a great bass solo spot here preceding the maniacal instrumental frenzy.

The title track, made up of a beautiful keyboard intro, gently strummed acoustic guitars and excellent clean vocals, recalls other Symphony X classics like "Accolade" and "Communion and the Oracle", more so in their rhythm construction and evocative flow than musically. They're both defined by excellent dynamic shifts, emotional guitar-keyboard flights, powerful vocal harmonies, and thunderous rhythm aesthetics. However, there are also two cuts that are relatively new entries into Symphony X's body of work: "The Serpent's Kiss" stands out for its unusual middle section, weird orchestral parts and other stylistic devices whilst "The Sacrifice" anchors moving synths and clean-toned melodies to Allen's gripping voice and concludes with a mindblowing guitar solo.

Unfortunately, not all of the album boasts excellent songwriting. "Eve of Seduction" and "Seven" are both average at best, setting aside melodic power for single-minded guitar aggression. "Revelation (Divus Pennae ex Tragoedia)" fails to close the album on as strong a note as some of their other album finales. Actually it's a good song, but a bit unimaginative compared to some of their more challenging pieces. Still, I enjoy how the vocals are split between deep, gritty verses and catchy clean harmonies. Also, Pinella's synth lead is amazing too.

Jensen Bogren's mix of Paradise Lost is mindblowing. After working on Opeth's Ghost Reveries and Katatonia's The Great Cold Distance, both sonic assaults in their respective genres, he has also done an amazing job on this disc, rendering it the best Symphony X album from a production standpoint.

It will be interesting to obsverve how Paradise Lost will rank in their fans' favourites lists, but it's certainly a welcome addition to their discography and a record well worth the wait.

Symphony X: Paradise Lost
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-05-23 09:57:03
My Score:

Damn...if Symphony X aren't out to prove something here with Paradise Lost, then for sure the extra years they took putting this platter together, as well as the months out on tour with Megadeth, Dream Theater, Fear Factory, Nevermore, and the rest of the Gigantour horde, certainly gave them a spark of creativity and new-found "metal-ness" so to speak. Paradise Lost is one molten pot of lava, progressive-metal that's heaps more "metal" than anything this band has ever put together, but still laced with the balance of catchy melodies and complex prog rock we've come to love from these New Jersey lads.

Each track here is a virtual whirlwind of non-stop riff-o-rama from Michael Romeo, as he lays down intricate crunch on songs like "Set the World on Fire" and "Domination" with the ever reliable Michael Pinnella laying down just enough keyboard majesty and singer Russell Allen sounding more lethal than ever before. Jason Rullo's nimble drum work and Michael LePond's rumbling bass lines accompany Romeo's mammoth riffs on the crushing "Serpent's Kiss", a bombastic prog-metal epic that sees the band firing on all cylinders as never before. Fans of Symphony X's lush & majestic prog rock elements will love the grand title track, with Allen crooning over gorgeous keyboard melodies from Pinnella, while "The Walls of Babylon" is just blistering, complex prog metal with a truly epic feel, Romeo and Pinnella doing battle like professional matadors. Hints of the band's earlier, neo-classical material rears its head on "Seven", and the explosive juggernaut "Revelation (Divus Pennae Ex Tragoedia)" perfectly ends this amazing album, with appearances of melodies that will remind you of songs from previous albums, whether intentional or not, still works wonders.

These guys have created the perfect prog-metal opus here, one that is heavy enough to appease those who want more aggression, but still certainly progressive enough to keep the old fans happy. Melody, metal, and prog, what a concept, what a band, and what an album. Paradise Lost is the real deal folks, and sure to put Symphony X among the elite in this industry.


» Reader Comments:

Symphony X: Paradise Lost
Posted by Carlos Canales Vega on 2007-06-27 12:27:36
My Score:

This is just amazing.The onslaught is elegantly done and the music is crunchy but emotional and evocative.Only this guys can make the symbiosis between those seemingly discordant notions and aesthetics.Great production values and the booklet artwork is amazing too.
Best release of the year for me!




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