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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
Related Link: InsideOut Music
Hits: 10218
Language: english

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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!

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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