Symphony X
Paradise Lost


4.0
excellent

Review

by Bfhurricane USER (9 Reviews)
June 26th, 2007 | 37 replies


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: This album of epic proportions offers the best of American heavy metal. Being a sure contender for album of the year, Paradise Lost is everything beautiful, everything harsh, and most definitely everything awesome.

The thought of a neoclassical/progressive/power metal band from New Jersey is a little weird… even a little scary. The act of one band mixing European power metal with an American heavy metal trend might turn out to be, lets say… disastrous. Did Symphony X try to hard with Paradise Lost? Not at all. In fact, this is an unexpectedly great album. I say “unexpectedly” because, well, I don’t own any other Symphony X and didn’t know what to expect. I picked this up because I like power metal, I like progressive, but mostly… I believe New Jersey is the greatest place in the world. Hands down. Of course, Symphony X only furthers my point. Hailing from none other than the greatest state in America, Symphony X releases the power metal album of the year. Paradise Lost is everything you would expect out of great music – heavy riffing, epic vocal performances, melodic interludes, teary-eyed ballads and shredding solos to make your hairs stand.

Now, I believe Paradise Lost is supposed to have a main focus around John Milton’s work, “Paradise Lost”. For those who don’t know, it’s an epic poem about the Fall of Man in the Garden of Eden – I’m sure the names Adam and Eve ring a bell. However, I haven’t bothered to make the connection and don’t really plan to - I’ll just make this easy and stick to why this album is so freakin’ sweet. Aforementioned, I have never listened to Symphony X prior to this, so I was open to absolutely anything. What did I get? Upon hearing the short intro, Oculus ex Inferni, I knew I had made a good decision by getting this. A full orchestra goes through two and a half minutes of what you would expect from a prominent Norwegian black metal band. After an impressive intro, the full band comes into play as we head back to American metal with Set the World on Fire (Lie of Lies). Upon hearing the heavy riffing and keyboards turn into a thrash-fest of guitar abuse and an intro of harsh vocals, you may wonder if Symphony X really did abandon their power metal roots. Well, when the chorus comes in, you are assured Symphony X has maintained the power metal standard of extremely awesome and catchy sing-a-long choruses.

About the vocals… outside of the admittedly awesome chorus they’re not that impressive in the first song. Russell Allen’s attempt at harsh yelling (maybe rapping?) made me grimace at first – though, lucky for the listener, he abandons that style throughout most of the rest of the album. In general, Russell’s vocals are great – you only need to listen to songs like The Sacrifice and Eve of Seduction if you doubt that. As for the rest of the band, they put on an impressive show of skill. Michael Romeo reminds me of Yngwie Malmsteen, only he plays the guitar right. Michael is a humble guitarist – the man could melt your ears if he felt like it, but he’s matured enough to realize the difference between quality shreds and pointless shreds. His solos are literally close to perfect, they’re so diverse and fluent that it’s hard to daze off while he’s playing. His riffs are just as impressive as his soloing. From the smorgasbord of bone-crunching madness in The Serpent’s Kiss to the majestic, bone-chilling intro of Revelation (Divus Pennae ex Tragoedia), you know that Michael goes beyond the call of the average guitarist to not only provide a good shred, but quality music too.

Of course, what would power metal be without the keyboards? Michael Pinnella, Symphony X’s keyboardist, resembles Romeo’s guitar playing. In songs like Eve of Seduction Pinnella takes the spotlight with a comfortable yet exciting intro. You can’t go wrong in the chorus either; hearing the keyboard arpeggios backing up Russell’s dominating vocals is just flat-out-awesome. Besides his soloing duty, Pinnella sets the tone for many songs with his presence, providing an essential progressive element to the mood of the album with an array of pianos, organs, synth pads, and other neat effects. The third Michael of the band, Michael Lepond, does what a lot of American bassists don’t do, and by that I mean he doesn’t allow the rest of the band to overshadow him. Romeo even backs off in a few songs to let the bass take the stage here and there. If you want to get a taste of his lightning fast fingers, consult Domination. The drummer Jason Rullo has quick feet and fast hands to keep up with the 180mph pace of some songs, however Jason is clearly more of a progressive metal drummer than a power metal drummer (all power metal drummers sound the same). His creative side is always evident, and he’s not afraid to change tempos or to allow an unexpected fill to accompany a transition into one of Romeo’s solos.

Paradise Lost is so fluent because all the members above work together so well. Like a system of checks and balances, no member greatly outshines the next, making this a unique American band. I hope you now realize how this album is a great heavy metal record, but there’s one final aspect of this album that really stands out: the two ballads. Who would have thought that the two best songs on an American metal album would be the slow ones? Paradise Lost and The Sacrifice feature beautiful combinations of clean pianos, acoustic and classical guitars, and Russell’s best vocal performances. Whip out your bic to these great songs, they are an essential break from the heaviness of the rest of the album. The piano arrangement of Paradise Lost and the chorus of The Sacrifice are enough to die for. I actually paid attention to the lyrics in these songs, and I have to admit they got my emotions swirling inside me. These two songs serve as a reminder that the guys of Symphony X aren’t only talented musicians, but excellent songwriters as well.

This is where I usually put my Standout Tracks section, but I’d rather just tell you what tracks to stay away from. Domination and The Walls of Babylon are where the album slips. Domination features some cool riffing in the intro, but besides that the song is pretty boring, as if the band is trying too hard to be a bunch of badasses with the abandonment of their progressive and power metal style. As for the The Walls of Babylon, after the painfully irritating intro there is a fairly entertaining performance by Romeo and Pinnella, but following that it’s just a sad attempt at being epic. But when I say that the rest of the album makes up for these, I really mean it. I’d like to say that all the other songs are equally great, but I’ll be happy to do some quick descriptions of some highlights:
The Sacrifice – The easiest listen and possibly the best track on the album. Not one instrument is focused on anything but musical beauty – this song showcases pure emotion.
Seven – Such a diverse song. Constant switches between harsh yelling and comforting singing, crushing riffs to speeding bass, and haunting vocal taunts keep you all but bored. You’ll catch the epic proportions of this song when you hear Russell growl “Gonna bleed you… dry!” Well, if you’re not distracted by the unexpected guitar shred backing up Russell’s yelling, that is. This song epitomizes Symphony X’s style.
Revelation (Divus Pennae ex Tragoedia) - Being the epic song of the album, it shows the band’s team effort to create incredible music. A progressive instrumental section is done extremely well, while the intro and outro contain fresh riffs and vocals to help make the final track of the album perfect.

Paradise Lost is what a great band ought to sound like. All members play to their potential, but don’t outshine each other; rather they act as a team. And if that’s not what a true band should be – a team, then I don’t know what is. Not to mention, the songs are freakin’ sweet, ranging from being beautifully arranged to terrifyingly awesome. So, unless you have no sense of musical taste whatsoever, you should check this out. There’s something for every metal fan: thrashy riffs, harmonized solos, acoustic melodies and fun vocals. It goes above your average heavy metal band and beyond stereotypical power metal, taking the best of both worlds. You can’t go wrong with Paradise Lost, so do yourself a favor and give this a spin. There’s no turning back! Russell warns you in the first song, you’ll be stuck in this Paradise Lost for a while.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
XSebbyMcMuffinX
June 26th 2007


339 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Two things...
I think you mentioned geological regions too much. (as if borders matter)
"Domination features... ...as if the band is trying too hard to be a bunch of badasses with the abandonment of their progressive and power metal style." This is also depending on boundaries that shouldn't be there. Song sounds natural to me.
Aside from that, this review is great. Still gets my vote.

Shattered_Future
June 26th 2007


1541 Comments


Am I the only person that has absolute opposite opinions from everyone? Why is there no love for Domination? And why does everybody like the ballads?

Good review though.

MeowMeow
June 26th 2007


662 Comments


I love Domination! :D

Then again I like all the songs on this so yeah.

Yazz_Flute
June 26th 2007


18810 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I think domination's the worst also, but the bass intro is breathtaking.

This is a really awesome album, i cant uite decide if it's my favortie from syx yet, but i def like it more than TDWOT, and i think i like it more than "the odyssey" as well. IT may not be quite as good as "The NEw Mythology suite" though. I think "seven" is my favorite song, but this (like most syx records) is a very hard album to pick favoites from.

Digging: Kayo Dot - Coffins On Io

Bfhurricane
June 26th 2007


6197 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

When I hear Russell scream "My dominatioonnnn, YEEAAAHHHH!" I just want to laugh. And they do stray from their normally well-executed mix of progressive and power metal in that song, or so I feel.
The thing I love most about this album, as I tried to put across, is everyone's effort as a true band. For what it is, its superb. I just tried to keep away from that first few listen feelings of "omg this is amazing" in my review.

And why does everybody like the ballads?

Because theyre amazing. I think The Sacrifice is my favorite song.
EVERYBODY VOTE

TheStarclassicTreatment
June 26th 2007


2910 Comments


Picked this up yesterday.

Great album.

jameskukucka
June 26th 2007


308 Comments


Album of the year..... ill download this and see, highly doubt that.... but nice review nonetheless got my vote

Bfhurricane
June 26th 2007


6197 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I dont believe this will end up being the best album of the year. Its probably my favorite release of this year so far, but I doubt it will hold that position. But its a sure contender.

Yazz_Flute
June 26th 2007


18810 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I think its my favorite release of the year so far as well, better than "systematic chaos",
and "fear of a blank planet" as well, so yeah, id say its my favorite release of the first
half of 07.

Meanwhile, im still trying to decide between this and "V: TNMS" for best SymX album.
This album is definately more solid all around, but V has imo the two best Sym X songs,
in "REdiscovery" and "A Fool's Paradise." Yeah, I prefer them to their 20 minute epics.This Message Edited On 06.26.07

Shattered_Future
June 26th 2007


1541 Comments


Blank Planet, not black planet, you racist fuck.

V is so much better than this one I can't even start. V is definately their best. This ranks up there pretty high though.

Yazz_Flute
June 26th 2007


18810 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

crap my bad...i edited it correctly

Acre
June 26th 2007


847 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Just got this. Listening to Set The World on Fire. So far, so awesome.


Bfhurricane
June 27th 2007


6197 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

What I mean is that a combination of genres can easily be botched up. If they do it well, then awesome (as does Symphony X). But its easy to get too carried away with trying to mix thrash with european power metal, it can get cheesy. Thats avoided here.
And dont worry, this is excellent.

Mikesn
Emeritus
June 27th 2007


3709 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great job.

V is so much better than this one I can't even start. V is definately their best. This ranks up there pretty high though.
Agreed.

Digging: Grimes - Visions

Yazz_Flute
June 30th 2007


18810 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

V is much better, yeah, def SymX's best.

This is growing off me a little since i first istneed to it (which as like 15 tmes in 3 days) but still love it. Not sure if this or "The Odyssey" is better, V and TDWOT are better tough, and thiis is better than TIO.

Bfhurricane
July 3rd 2007


6197 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is better than the Odyssey. The Odyssey is great, but I find this album simply a better listen. It's not as crazy, harsh, or cheesy, and these songs have more quality to them.
Everyone's raving about V, I need to check that out soon.

Yazz_Flute
July 3rd 2007


18810 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Well yeah, thats cuz V is amazing, i would say thats its easily SymX's best now, plus its a concept album which always brings the awesomeness up if it's strong. Plus it has my two favorite songs from the band, "REdiscovery" and "A Fool's Paradise." Get it asap.

Lunarfall
July 3rd 2007


3179 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Paradise Lost. Much different than DWoT. Still like this though.

Yazz_Flute
July 7th 2007


18810 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

V is just one of those albums that had few or no flaws. Each track excluding the segues are winners, and the concept is well thought out. Theres a great mix of heavy/lighter material also, and Allen's vocals are at his peak.

Bfhurricane
July 7th 2007


6197 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The Odyssey is great, but this is definitely a better listen. Do you have this josh?



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