Being a rabid SymphonyX fan, I like to think that I have some idea of what this band is capable of and what they do and don't do. With that being said, this album perfectly and evenly covers every aspect of their creativity and even adds some new taste that is harder to find on other releases.
1. [Smoke and Mirrors] This song is the definitive SymphonyX opener. It's their most power metal song to date, topping every other SymX opener to date. It begins with a neo-classical riff that shows up within the rest of the song. The chorus is a great sing along one and is driven by powerful double bass (that continues through most of the song). Power, power, power. They're considered a PowerProg band, and this song shows where the "power" half comes from.
2. [Church of the Machine] What I would call a psuedo-epic. It's somewhat longer than most SymphonyX songs but far shorter than their epics. One of the most epic things about it though isn't the length at all; rather it's the lyrical content and chorus. This one starts off with an ambient intro and has a very sudden burst into the chorus. It settles down for all of the verses and bridges but every time that chorus kicks in it's always built up and then explodes. Very sexual. The song ends with an unnaturally sudden stop (A-la "Pull Me Under" for the Dream Theater fans) as in they just turned off the record button. I don't typically like this sort of thing but it segways from this chaotic song into a classical piece...
3. [Sonata] This song is adapted from a classical piece. It starts with just that (presumably pre-programmed on a computer) but is soon joined by Mike Romeo's guitar. He begins to shred over it while still keeping the calm feel. It fades into slowly...
4. [In The Dragon's Den] A busting huge drum fill starts as the music from Sonata fades out. It goes into a typical SymX "double-bass and equally fast guitar and bass" section. The verses have soaring vocals and the chorus has some great vocal harmonies. If you're looking for the song that can top "Smoke&Mirrors" as the most power metal SymX song, this is it. One of my all time favorites.
5. [Through The Looking Glass] And here we have the epic of this disc. Not as long as some of their others, but still a mean 13:05. This one is my personal favorite. This one would very long to describe part-by-part (and I doubt anyone would read all of that) so I'll just give a breakdown of it. It's divided into three sections. The first is mostly mid tempo and very much a "scene-setter". The second and third parts are where the song gets a bit more aggressive and eventually reaches what I would consider one of the most climactic choruses in any metal song. The lyrics... the hills and valleys of emotion... this song gets the Gonfeldurok stamp of amazing.
6. [The Relic] It would be tough to follow up a song such as that which should really be a closer, so the album hits a little bump as far as flowing is concerned. That doesn't stop this from being a great mid-tempo tune. Ripe with harpsichord and guitar harmony for all you neo-classical nuts. Very proggy prechorus with almost "Alice in Chains" style vocals. Very creepy and obscure SymX. One of those ones you'll probably never hear live.
7. [Orion - The Hunter] Every SymX fan will tell you two things about this song: (A) It's the weakest song on the album and (B) it's one of Russell Allen's best vocal songs. Unforunately this is true. Overall this is a better song than most people make it out to be. It's just that it's even slower than the previous song... which was already a big drop from the epic before it. Take this one with a grain of salt and listen specifically to Russ for true satisfaction on this one.
8. [Lady of the Snow] Obscure, Eerie, beautiful. The song is very Eastern sounding. That's the first thing that comes to mind when I hear it, actually. It has a theatrical almost broadway-ish build up that goes into a tale of folklore and intrigue. One of those songs that brings a tear to your eye with its beauty and intrigue. I want to listen to this song right now as I'm writing this.