Picture this. Youíre in a band who has basically revolutionized the prog metal scene once again. You have a long lasting record deal, youíre in a band with tons of absolutely stunning instrumentalists, and all of the records you have released, people snap up almost immediately. What do you do next?
If you were Symphony X, it would be only natural to one up yourself.
Following their album Twilight In Olympus, the New Jerseyans set out once again to record an album. TIO wasnít a huge success for different reasons. Many thought the songwriting was somewhat bland, others blamed the lack of drummer Jason Rullo on the album for itís mediocrity, and so forth. However, I think the reason many people denounced the album was because it was the followup to The Divine Wings Of Tragedy.
Now, donít get me wrong, TIO is a decent album. Itís got some great lead parts, vocals, whatnot. But DWOT completely blows it out of the water. Many people consider it the bandís best effort ever. Everything about the album is absolutely stunning, every track a masterpiece.
So now we come to this stage in Symphony Xís career. Enter The New Mythology Suite.
Symphony X - V: The New Mythology Suite
- October 10, 2000 on Metal Blade Records
Russell Allen - Vocals
Michael Romeo - Guitars
Michael LePond - Bass
Michael Pinnella - Keyboards
Jason Rullo - Drums
Would Symphony X be able to top The Divine Wings Of Tragedy? Would they create a new album that would go down as their best, and set a new standard for prog metallers to come?
I say yes.
Well, partly. Letís see why.
If V is not the best album the band has done, it is certainly the best album since DWOT. Thereís no difference in writing on here than on any other of their albums. All of the elements that make Symphony X great are still intact: face melting lead parts, crushing riffs, odd time signatures, the unique blend of prog, power and neoclassical metal that they perfected, youíll find all of them here. But for some reason, this release shines head and shoulders above TIO in writing ability. The band really hit a good chord on here, and came together as a whole.
Iím sure you know all about the two main members of the band. Michael Romeo, of course, is a god among guitarists, and is revered as one of metalís best guitarists. And Allen is a superb vocalist, possessing a great range, and power incarnate.
However, Pinella, LePond, and Rullo donít get as much time as they should in the spotlight. All of the members, save LePond, were with the band from the beginning, and are no slouches at their instruments. Pinella crafts beautiful melodies with his keyboard, and has some solos that rival Romeoís in complexity and technicality. LePond is a force to be reckoned with, following Romeoís furious riffs note for note, and occasionally breaking off into some form of unison tapping part. And Rullo shows his versatility as a drummer by cycling through a variety of styles, from straight up double pedal pounding to prog esque patterns and everything in between.
Many criticize Symphony X from sticking to a set formula when they write their songs, which has some shred of truth to it. After 4 albums, riffs tend to sound quite similar. Yet you wonít notice much as the album goes through its courses, simply because there is so much goodness to be had here. Youíve all heard riffs like the one in Evolution before. Reminds me a bit of Of Sins And Shadows. Yet throughout the course of the song, the little similarities will be thrown out the window because the song is just so DAMN GOOD. Or take Communion and the Oracle. The opening riff is almost ripped off note for note from The Accolade, yet it still manages to bring something new to the table.
This album also has a continuous feel to it. Every song flows into the other, and there are even some short instrumentals to bridge the gap between certain songs. It really helps to build the epic feel of the album.
Evolution (The Grand Design)
- Following a short intro, the single from the album wastes no time in getting you straight into the music. Remember that Of Sins And Shadows riff I was talking about? First thing that happens to the song. However, even though the intro will remind you a bit of others, the rest of the song is fresh and entertaining. And the chorus. Man, the chorus is probably the best damn moment on the album. Russell turns on the emotion here, and crafts something beautiful, yet still containing plenty of power.
- Nice odd time signature in this one, as well as a bass/guitar tapping riff that appears out of nowhere and leaves just as quickly. Pretty standard song by Symphony X fare, but the leads are rather good.
- Holy crap, this song sounds exactly like an American hardcore band! How many of you that read that honestly almost had a heart attack? Come now, donít be shy. Anyways, this song has a (suprise!) very Egyptian feel to it. Werenít expecting that, were you? This song is a bit more ballady and slower than the others, yet itís still spectacular. Again, the chorus reigns supreme, with Allen busting out a terrific performance on here. Pinella also has some quite interesting piano lines on this one. Opeth fans, you might find something to love in the acoustic riffage in this song...itís very reminiscent of Damnation era stuff.
Rediscovery, Pt. 2: The New Mythology
- A long song title should only be fitting for the longest song on the album. Reigning in at 12 minutes long, itís a beast. While still not as beastly or epic as the title track of DWOT, or even the title track of the album to come, The Odyssey, thereís still much to love on here. A superb effort on all fronts.
- Thereís tons of debate whether this album is better than DWOT or not. If you didnít gather that, you are a complete moron who needs to go back to first grade and relearn how to read. Anyways, whatever your opinion may be, thereís no denying this is one of the best. I remember not being to drawn to this when I first got it, but after putting it on a few months later after I had gotten more into Symphony X, it was like finding a fresh pie in your freezer after you had forgotten about it. Itís that damn good.
Final Rating - 9.5/10
A rather odd thing I just found out when doing this review: 3 people in the group are named Michael. There must be a LOT of interbreeding in Jersey...