Things don't get much better than this folks. I had thought it would be hard for Symphony X to follow-up V-The New Mythology Suite, but The Odyssey is that damn good, and as heavy as their classic Divine Wings of Tragedy album. Michael Romeo once again proves why he is one of the best songwriters and guitarists in the prog-metal field today, and Russell Allen continues to be a powerhouse of a singer. The production of the CD, as always, is of the highest quality.
Let's skip right to the closing 24-minute epic, "The Odyssey" shall we. Incorporating many classical ideas (at times sounding like a grandiose film score) this song, based on the Homer poem, is the band's crowning moment. The keyboard work of Michael Pinella adds the right amount of symphonic bombast to go along wioth Romeo's intricate and heavy riffs. Other tunes like "Inferno (Unleash the Fire)" and "Wicked" rock harder than the band has in years, and are fueled by strong, almost demonic vocals from Allen. I once thought that Dio was the only singer that could perfect this style, but Mr. Allen is giving him a run for his money! Michael Romeo's guitar tone is chunkier than ever, and it seems like there was a concerted effort to have these
songs be more guitar-oriented, yet the music is just as complex as in the past. "Incantations of the Apprentice" features haunting keyboards, insane drum and bass work from Jason Rullo and Michael Lepond, plus intricate axe-work from Romeo, while Allen sings like a man possessed. The band's wonderful vocal harmonies come to the forefront on the lovely "Accolade II" , which also features gorgeous piano from Pinella. Dark lyrical themes are present in the bludgeoning "The Turning", and Romeo's blistering leads are at the helm on "Awakening", an 8-minute track of prog-metal bliss, with a unison solo trade-off between Romeo and Pinella that needs to be heard to be believed. If you thought what Malmsteen and Johansson did 15 years ago was amazing, wait until you hear this tune!
So, in summary, another stellar release from New Jersey's Symphony X. Hopefully their new association with the fine Inside Out Music America will gain them more exposure, as The Odyssey is a bona-fide classic.