on 9 July 2011
I love, or should I say loved, Symphony X, but I'm definitely more of a fan of their melodic side, something that hasn't really been on show since 5 (or V). Sadly, for fans like me, not much of that band remains. Yes, there are tracks on here where Allan shows us what a great singer (as against "growler") he is, but just not enough of them.
And now for an admission: I've always thought Romeo's playing veered towards hackwork. Don't get me wrong, he's good, it's just there's so little originality or effort shown here. It's pretty much by the numbers prog-metal riffing, and I really wish he'd try a little bit harder.
There's not too much on offer here for fans of earlier Symphony X, but for those of you who prefer their prog-metal without the prog, or just enjoy the "heavier" version then I direct you to the, so far, overwhelmingly positive reviews already submitted, and urge you to buy this album. But if you're like me and mourn the loss of the old Symphony X, I'd suggest you dig out 5 and its predecessors, pop on the headphones and reflect on how great they used to be.
on 11 July 2011
Symphony X have never been boring - even when a straight melodic, proggy power act they had good variety, great melodies and songwriting - though Paradise had a much harsher sound, the variety and distinctiveness was still there, as well as a new found, admirable thrashiness and aggression which was a good evolution of their sound up to that point: Seeing that this album would effectively be in the same style, but, from what I could hear, more of a typical, less hoarse tone to Russell's voice, which I was all for, and whilst there is more variety to his voice in this album, there is less in effectively every other aspect of it.
This is a pretty monotonous album, quite frankly, with little variety in terms of lyrics (good thing in a sense: feels unified because of it I suppose), guitar-work or song-structured or pace, though there IS some there, for me there is not quite enough: It's a hard album for me to digest in the one sitting, one disc version OR two, because of how similar it all sort of sounds: Symphony X here have obviously aimed for a straight ahead, for the most part, heavy, thrashy album, their most straight forward yet, which, again, DID dissapoint me. What annoyed me most of all was the guitarwork: brilliant? HELL YES, blistering stuff here, but like the structures and vocal lines/choruses of the album, all very samey: and whilst the vocals and drums throw in some really, very awesome melodies and moments, the guitarwork, despite being stunningly played by Mr Romeo, never really connected to the rest of the music, in my opinion: X have always been like this to an extent, I suppose, the vocal melodies always pretty separate from the driving guitarwork, but, in my opinion, it's a little bit more obvious here, due to the repetetive nature of the music became something that detracted from the album rather than something I did not care about and went along with. The axe work here is very good, typical X style rythmn awesomeness, but unlike past albums, there are very few actual riffs that genuinely stick in the mind afterwards, its pretty much all just standard, albeit brilliantly done, solo's and chugging.
As for the actual quality of the songs,, well I did give it three stars in spite of the above faults: the melodies, the, vocals, the drums, and yes, the guitarwork, throw up some AWESOME stuff now and then: no bad songs at all. This is their least consistent album in terms of song quality as well,by quite a bit, but second rate Symphphony is still a heck of a lot better than most bands of this ilk will ever achieve, and Like I said before, there are plenty of highlights dotted throughout it all which, at the end, more than make up for the lack of variety to it: id probably rate it a four stars and a 08/10 if it wasn't so damn long: if it had all been shortened out a bit, then It could have been a short, sharp, blistering metal album, though not a perfect one, but as it stands, its far to long winded and stylistically uninteresting for that: somebody should have told romeo and the boys that a straight forward heavy album still can have more consistently memorable songs.
To cap it all off, a good album: very straight forward heavy, thrashy stuff, and it certainly has its quality moments dotted here and there, but is far to long winded to be anything more than a decent enough footnote in this brilliant band's history. Like symphony X? by all means, buy this, but don't expect anything like Odyssey, V or divine wings in terms of either style, density, OR quality.
07/10 (just about)
on 4 August 2011
WAITED A LONG TIME FOR MR.ROMEO TO RELEASE HIS NEXT OPUS!I WENT FOR THE 2 DISC VERSION AND PLACED DISK 1 INTO THE HI-FI...I SAT OPENED MOUTHED AT THE FIRST TRACK, CHOIR'S,CRYSTAL PRODUCTION,5***** PERFORMANCES BY ALL MUSICIAN'S AND WAS THINKING ''YES!!!'' THEY HAVE DONE ANOTHER ALBUM IN THE V VEIN....THEN ONTO TRACK 2...THEN 3...THEN 4 AND SO ON...OOO!!! DEAR THE VOCALS OF ONE OF MY TOP 3 SINGER'S OF THE PAST 35 YEAR'S HAVE GONE TOO GROWLY AND THRASHY...ALL POWER WITH NO VARIETY. ON V AND THE ODYSSEY THERE WAS A DIFFERENT COLOUR AND SUPRISE ON EACH TRACK...MR.ROMEO HAS MIRRORED THE DRUM AND GUITAR SOUND FROM ''PANTERA'S VULGER DISPLAY OF POWER ALBUM'' WHICH IS A WONDERFUL ALBUM..BUT!! WHERE'S THE MELODY GONE,THE CLEAR VOCALS AND THE MAJESTIC KEYBOARD'S THAT GRACED THE V ALBUM...THE ''WE ARE STRONG'' CHANTS ON THE OPENING TRACK ARE APPALLING AND OUT OF CONTEXT WITH THE TRACK AND RUIN WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN NEAR PERFECTION....I HATE TO WRITE BAD THING'S ABOUT MY FAVOURITE BAND BUT I JUST CAN'T KID MYSELF INTO BELIEVING I LOVE IT!!!
ON A MORE POSITIVE NOTE! THE DRUMMING FROM MR RULLO ARE OUT OF THE PLANET, SIMPLY OUTSTANDING,SOLO'S MORE MEMORABLE THAN ''PARADISE LOST''[PLAYED THIS ALBUM ABOUT 5 TIMES]BASS AND KEYBOARD'S STELLER PLAYING AS USUAL...BUT RUSSELL ALLEN CAN DO BETTER THAN THIS, HE SANG SUPERB ON THE SPACE METAL ALBUM'S BY ARJEN LUCCASSEN AND I LISTEN TO THOSE ALBUMS MORE THAN THE SYMPHONY X ALBUMS NOW!!!
COME ON LAD'S GIVE US ALL A 'V' PART 2 OTHERWISE I CAN SEE THIS ONCE INCREDIBLE, MIND BLOWING BAND GOING VERY STALE AND SOUNDING MAINSTREAM
on 11 August 2011
This review may seem in some ways very negative. It is a very modern sounding album, take that as you will...
Dynamics: The guitars are all very good don't ever get me wrong there, hell, not very good. Great. Same with the drums. And the bass, and the vocals etc. But there is not enough dynamics from a songwriting and production perspective for my ear. I would like a little bit more dynamic, if there is a solo, and this goes for keyboards as well, let it stand out, let the production highlight it, if necessary really let it soar. Give it room to breathe.
Keyboards: We all know how great the early orchestrations of Symphony X were. But I feel that they are not as "there" anymore. Which is a shame for a band with Symphony in there title. They really don't stand out enough anymore, possibly due to the dynamics issue. I really would like to see the keyboards really orchestrate with the rest of the band again. Having said all of that, if this is where the band are musically good for them. I don't think bands should ever change want they want because of people like me voicing my opinion.
Diversity: Because of the above issues each song has difficulty standing out. Which when you consider the talent on offer really makes this a shame.
I found often the choruses were good and catchy but there was not enough to excite elsewhere, and even the chorus' were not produced to really catch the ear and stand out.
So, all said and done, do I recommend this album? Hell yes. But there are caveats. Obviously if you don't like albums that lack some dynamic content then it may not be for you. If you did not like the rougher sounds of Paradise Lost compared to previous albums it may not be for you. If you like Paradise Lost however this should be an almost essential purchase. I do like this album a lot, but can't listen to it yet from start to finish like some other double CD's. I am hoping though that this is one of those albums that is a sneaky grower, but unfortunately at this stage it is an album that is less than the sum of all its parts. It as a whole album ranges between 3 or 4 out of five. I will go for the higher option and revise downward if it doesn't in fact grow on me, although I really hope it does... and that I can revise upward.
on 25 May 2015
Every single album this band have ever made, for different reasons, and even though there are trademark guitar licks and riffs everywhere (that only a handful of guitarists could even learn let alone write!), there are elements of surprise and passages of utter genius. One of the tightest bands in the world, with every player having top-of-the-tree technical skills. They supported Dream Theater on tour a few years ago perhaps the only band that could be said to surpass them. Jason Rullo is one of the most underrated drummers on the planet, he's a colossus of control amongst Michael Romeo's relentless guitar work and time signature zig-zagging. Iconoclast begins with a couple of minutes of unbelievably technical metal culminating in one of my favourite riffs of all time that the vocals come in over. Unfortunately, as other reviewers have said, the whole album does dip to a more predictable and therefore lower impact level. But, since there are people here giving the album less than 5 stars, I had to jump in. V: The New Mythology Suite it ain't, (I was very lucky that V was the first Sym X album I heard and still my favourite) but all their albums are 5 stars for me.........and on hearing "Nevermore" from next month's release "Underworld", there is no sign that a less than 5 star album will be coming along any time soon.