Symphony X


Symphony X - V ©2000 BMI
1. Prelude
2. Evolution (The Grand Design)
3. Fallen
4. Transcendence (Segue)
5. Communion And The Oracle
6. The Bird-Serpent War / Cataclysm
7. On The Breath Of Poseidon (Segue)
8. Egypt
9. The Death Of Balance / Lacrymosa
10. Absence Of Light
11. A Fool's Paradise
12. Rediscovery (Segue)
13. Rediscovery (Part II) - The New Mythology

Easily one of the most anticipated CDs of the year is this fifth release from New Jersey based Symphony X. This fifth release, aptly named V, continues the line of exceptional albums from possibly the best progressive metal band there is.

Go buy the disc. Now. I'll wait, really. I have several things to do while you're out. Trust me, this review will still be here when you get back. Now go, shoo!

Got it? Good, let's listen together and continue, shall we?

Drawn heavily from some very old fables and stores, this disc weaves a "new" mythology using bits and pieces from a wide variety of sources. The disc is made up of two cups from the Egyptian Book of the Dead, notably from the papyrus of Ani, a couple tablespoons from the Greek pantheon of gods and mythology, a dash of Atlantis and a healthy shake of assorted ancient sources. The mixture is stirred together and simmered over some shredding guitars, keys, rhythm and singing until it all coalesces together in the best album Symphony X has ever released. A lot of research went into the lyrics and composition of the songs, giving it a greater sense of depth than the band's earlier works.

As the titles suggest, there is a lot of attention paid to the details of the songs and how they fit together. Each track segues into the next seamlessly, carrying the listener on a voyage into the unknown, exploring origins and mists of the past. The short segue pieces are well written and fit the disc perfectly. The lyrics also fit together to weave a story from beginning to end drawing on the above sources to tell a single story. It is the attention to detail on this disc that makes Symphony X stand head and shoulders above other progressive metal bands.

Michaels Romeo's guitar has never sounded better with loads of chops and humanly impossible shredding. Together with Michael Pinnella's keyboards and the rest of the band, they create a huge sound without being ostentatious or overblown. The heavy sound of The Damnation Game and Divine Wings of Tragedy is blended with the epic feel and orchestration of Twilight In Olympus bringing out the best elements of both and mixing them together with a large selection of classical arrangements to give this album a very big sound. Russell Allen's vocals are backed with some great choral arrangements from the rest of the band. This is truly epic progressive metal at its best. The disc will take several listens to fully appreciate. I predict it will be on many "best of the year" lists for discs released in 2000. So, go buy it already!

Review by Matthew Braymiller

Review date: 08/2000

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Live On The Edge Of Forever

Symphony X - Live On The Edge Of Forever ©2001 InsideOut Music
CD one:
1. Prelude
2. Evolution (The Grand Design)
3. Fallen / Transcendence
4. Communion And The Oracle
5. The Bird-Serpent War
6. On The Breath Of Poseidon
7. Egypt
8. The Death Of Balance / Candelight Fantasia
9. The Eyes Of Medusa
CD two:
1. Smoke And Mirrors
2. Church Of The Machine
3. Through The Looking Glass
4. Of Sins And Shadows
5. Sea Of Lies
6. The Divine Wings Of Tragedy

Symphony X is probably my favorite progressive metal band. I would love to see them perform live. However, I think the chances of realizing that wish are fairly remote. This double disc set is a very reasonable substitute however. So rather than travel to where they are playing, I can pop these discs into my player, clamp a pair of Sennheiser headphones on, crank the volume up and sit back.

Immediately I am transported into the atmosphere of a live show. The electric excitement of anticipation that builds before the band takes the stage. The roar of applause that greets each recognized tune as it begins, and then the awed silence as the band plays on. When I was younger, live discs failed to capture the feel of the concert experience. The production suffered miserably from inferior technology. That is not the case anymore. The production on this disc is stellar, capturing both the heightened excitement of the audience and the immaculate performance of the band.

Symphony X wow the crowd with selected medleys and fan favorites up to and including "The Divine Wings of Tragedy" clocking in at a full twenty minutes all by itself. They do a wonderful job at making the audience part of the whole experience, eliciting and encouraging their response. All the while they remain very faithful to the music. For the most part, what you hear in the live performance is what you hear on the studio disc. The added bits and pieces make for a rich and enjoyable experience as you catch the differences and hear how they enhance the song at that moment.

This is one of the best live disc sets I have ever heard. If you cannot find Symphony X playing near your local venue, this set will make a more than adequate substitute.

Review by Matthew Braymiller

Review date: 02/2002

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