Symphony X
Paradise Lost


3.5
great

Review

by Mike Stagno EMERITUS
June 25th, 2007 | 237 replies


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist


Ever since I'd first heard Symphony X about a year ago, they've almost always managed to impress me. Their 2000 offering, V: The New Mythology Suite is one of my favourite progressive metal albums, and both The Odyssey and Twilight in Olympus are not far behind. They've always been able to balance the whole prog metal act much better than some of their contemporaries, never sounding too technical and progressive or too contrived, for the most part. Of course, due to the fact that Symphony X is one of the sub-genre's premier acts, it only seems logical that they delay their next and seventh studio album over five years before its release. We can never have it the easy way, can we? Anyways, Symphony X's has earned rather large expectations over the years, and though their seventh album, Paradise Lost doesn't quite eclipse the standards set by some of the band's past endeavours, it is still a very interesting album.

Essentially, Paradise Lost does not introduce changes to Symphony X's tried, tested, and true formula. Though the songs are a lot heavier and darker than they've ever been, they still retain the mystical atmosphere which has always been a staple in their sound. But back to the heaviness. If one element had ever been more stressed on the band's seventh album, it would be the aggression and pure heaviness which it displays. But just like bands such as Machine Head and Pantera show through their music, heaviness for the sake of being heavy never really works out well. Luckily, for the most part Symphony X does not really fall into this trap, with a good portion of their hour long album sounding inspired and interesting. But where does this new found heaviness come from? Throughout Paradise Lost the centrepiece of the experience is the band's lone guitarist, Michael Romeo. In addition to his lead work, Romeo steps up his rhythm work as well. Particularly on a song such as Set the World on Fire (The Lie of Lies), where Michael's rhythm is the glue which holds the track together. However, where Paradise Lost impresses the most is on some of the lighter, more neo-classical tracks. Eve of Seduction is perhaps the best example of this, featuring several fast-paced, melodic harmonies, solos, and riffs, as well as frontman Russell Allen's best performance off the album. The eighth song, Seven, is another track of this ilk, opening up with a fast, technical riff from Michael Romeo before morphing into a fairly enjoyable power/prog piece.

Paradise Lost is not perfect however, as there a few points which drag it down a few points. Perhaps most importantly, a few of the albums tracks are not up to the band's usual standards. In this case, the three main offenders are the blistering Domination, The Serpent's Kiss, and the epic closer, Revelation (Divus Pennae ex Tragoedia). Both Domination and The Serpent's Kiss are really not bad songs at all, but the heaviness is too much of a dominating (pardon the pun) aspect of the mix and it really takes away from the flow of the track. Revelation is difficult to listen to as well, but for a different reason. For it is here that Symphony X is at their most pretentious and, well, annoying. The song is 9 minutes in length and several of these nine minutes is spent showing off and attempting to be epic. It's not nearly as bad as on Dream Theater's Systematic Chaos, but it's still rather uninteresting. The Walls of Babylon begins in a similar fashion, but as the song continues it gets more bearable. The other major point which brings down the album is vocalist Russell Allen. Throughout the entirety of the album, Allen dominant's technique is a rough shout. Similarly to the guitars, it is quite aggressive and gives the music a darker, more forceful sound. But even with this in mind, his efforts take away from the songs. His gruff singing style has very little variety and is, well, fairly irritating to listen to, and though he doesn't imitate James Hetfield like many of his counterparts seem to, he still isn't very interesting.

Symphony X does not reinvent the progressive metal with Paradise Lost. In fact, they do not really progress at all, as the sub-genre's name would suggest. But what they do offer is a darker, heavier take on their previous works. Sure, they may get carried away with the aggression at times, but for the most part the American band does a decent job at combining the two elements, which long time fans and advocates of, well, heavier metal should enjoy. Though it has its flaws (and really what album doesn't?), Paradise Lost is a very worthwhile offering from one of America's better metal bands and is definitely recommended to both fans of power metal and prog metal.

Recommended Tracks:
Eve of Seduction
Seven
Paradise Lost
Set the World On Fire (The Lie of Lies)



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Comments:Add a Comment 
MeowMeow
June 26th 2007


662 Comments


Great review. I must disagree, though, I believe this is Symphony X's best work. I don't think they get too carried away with the heaviness, as it's really only dominant for the first half of the album. Revalation is probably the worst track on the album, but I don't think it's THAT show-offy.

Shattered_Future
June 26th 2007


1540 Comments


I love Revelation, I don't see what's wrong with it at all. If anything, the ballads are kinda boring (they should have stopped making them after the original Accolade :p). As for the rating, I think it should be higher. This ranks up there right alongside V as a terrific album, a major step up from The Odyssey (while good, it was still kinda meh).

As for Domination, my freaking God, you cannot be more wrong. One of my personal favorite tracks on the album, it's by far one of the heaviest tracks that the band has done, and I think they did a superb job with it. Although I will admit, you really don't see the beauty behind that monster until you see it live. Unbelievably terrific live.

Honestly, my opinion on the faults and the highs are the exact opposite from yours. Seven is terribly boring after the neoclassical intro (even that is kinda boring), and Eve Of Seduction has a lameass intro which ruins it a bit for me, even with the killer chorus.

And finally, I like how the band has broken out of recycling riffs (it's not as apparent as, say, when you compare V and The Divine Wings Of Tragedy) and Romeo has also stepped up the production. Everything on here is much more in your face and isn't muddled down in more bass-heavy production. Not that there's anything wrong with lots of bass, it just doesn't work with this riff intensive music.

One of my personal favorites of '07, along with Hope and After Forever's S/T.

Shattered_Future
June 26th 2007


1540 Comments


Screw the laggy server. :mad:This Message Edited On 06.26.07

Acre
June 26th 2007


847 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I've been looking forward to checking this out. I'm not much of a Symphony X fanboy, but they've released some great albums.

Pretty good review. You made some good points. But you dissed "Systematic Chaos", so thumbs down... :p

pizzapie88
June 26th 2007


30 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Album of the year so far. Not a single bad song on here.

Tyler
Emeritus
June 26th 2007


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Disappointing.

Altmer
June 26th 2007


5652 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

If I were to get into Symphony X, would this be a good starting point?

MeowMeow
June 26th 2007


662 Comments


Depends, are you more into heavier metal or power metal-type stuff?

Altmer
June 26th 2007


5652 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I dig both the thrash metal side of metal (the chugging) and the guitar wankery of power metal. I like both. :D

MeowMeow
June 26th 2007


662 Comments


Then either get this one (if you want a heavier album) or V: The New Mythology Suite (best Power Metal-esque one). Actually you should get them both at the same time. They're Symphony X's best work imo.

Altmer
June 26th 2007


5652 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Ok, noting that down on the to-get list.

eug008
June 26th 2007


97 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This album is good, but I expected somthing much better than this. Nothing was really that interesting or appealing on this album, minus a few tracks, especially compared to their previous few.

Yazz_Flute
June 26th 2007


18783 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

great review, just voted. And i just downloaded this and "ride the lightning" a few minutes ago. Hoping for them to be as amazing as the cover art for both are hahaha

Digging: Battles - Mirrored

jrowa001
June 26th 2007


8750 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

good review. so far i like all the songs off this album but it hasnt hit me like The Odyssey did. this will grow on me of course cuz i love this band. they never in my ears have put out a bad album. id love to see them tour with Spheric Universe Experience

Mikesn
Emeritus
June 26th 2007


3709 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Honestly, my opinion on the faults and the highs are the exact opposite from yours. Seven is terribly boring after the neoclassical intro (even that is kinda boring), and Eve Of Seduction has a lameass intro which ruins it a bit for me, even with the killer chorus.
Haha, very nice. It seems kind of tacky for me to rag on Revelation for sounding wanky when the intro to Seven is probably just as bad, but I love the way it sounds.

But you dissed "Systematic Chaos", so thumbs down...
:P

Bfhurricane
June 26th 2007


6197 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice review, you beat me to submitting it first. Although I claim in my review I dont own any other Symphony X, I did in fact get The Odyssey a couple days ago, and at first listen I can say I like this better. And Revelation imo is a great way of being epic, while The Walls Of Babylon is just a sad attempt. I agree on Domination, its pretty boring besides the fairly interesting bass intro.

Otisbum
June 26th 2007


1912 Comments


[quote="Review"]While Paradise Lost does not introduce changes to Symphony X's formula.[/quote] You might wanna fix the wording in this portion of the summary, you forgot the last half of this sentence.

Other than that, great review. I was hoping this would get higher ratings, but I'll still check it out after I get some of the other Sym albums.This Message Edited On 06.26.07

Muikuli
June 30th 2007


184 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great album. well worth the wait. I have to say, there are no weak songs.

I actually may write my own review for it soon.

Wizard
June 30th 2007


19403 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Good review, dont really enjoy these guys too much. They are progressive and heavy, but there is just something missing.................! I will check this out when my list of must-listen-to-albums has dwindled down a bit. This Message Edited On 06.30.07

Digging: Khonsu - Traveller

ZePortouga
July 10th 2007


19 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I agree with those who say that The Odissey is the way to go if you want to get into Symphony X. Every other album has nice songs but as a whole, The Odissey is by far the best!

This new album... well, not as good as The Odissey but good nontheless. The Balads aren't my thing so it's hard to listen to the whole album in one go but Seven, Eve Of Seduction and Revelation are really great songs, hands down and therefore I still give this piece of plastic a 4.5 as it'll grow on me as usual.

I'll buy it, that's for sure.



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