Symphony X
Twilight in Olympus



by Xenorazr CONTRIBUTOR (120 Reviews)
March 20th, 2010 | 11 replies

Release Date: 1998 | Tracklist

Review Summary: It might not hold a torch to The Divine Wings of Tragedy or most of the band's catalogue, but Twilight In Olympus gives a well-rounded idea of what the band typically sounds like which is, by and large, a fair first-entry recommendation

There are some bands whose names alone are ample indication of the type of music they embody. Cannibal Corpse for death metal, Metallica for simple heavy metal, BrokeNCYDE for disability-inducing trash; you get the picture. Conveniently enough, New Jersey’s Symphony X keep classification easy for us thanks to their name, if with a few other elements present for good measure. The band’s fourth studio effort, Twilight In Olympus , gives a fairly good idea of what one can expect from the band’s entire catalogue stylistically.

Opener Smoke and Mirrors does well to establish what its listeners will come to hear throughout the album’s relatively meaty fifty-two minute runtime. Smooth guitar-playing further emphasized by keyboards and studio effects craft a vivid flow that just grabs one’s attention. Add a relatively strong and varied voice by singer Russell Allen matched by backing vocals from Michael Romeo and Pinnella and you have a sound that’s familiar yet distinct enough to be identifiable.

This is all further exemplified by the following track, Church of the Machine , which is definitely more enjoyable than the aforementioned icebreaker. We get a transition that shows a very similar sound but doesn’t blend so much that one would give an “it all sounds the same” comment. From there on, we get a continued mix of songs which branch off a bit here and there but never to the point that the genre is questioned for a second (unless you’re trying to clearly distinguish the power and symphonic elements). Generally, these moments work well, though the band does begin to slip up during a couple points.

Take In the Dragon’s Den for instance. This is one of the band’s shorter and thus basic tracks that feels like it’s being forced into a more frantic nature than they tend to show. What results is a song which, though not mediocre, is quite far from showcasing the band in their top form. A more peculiar piece, however, comes from The Relic , since it sounds like the band well in their comfort zone but doesn’t work nearly as well as most of their material. It’s more or less one of those “there’s nothing necessarily wrong, but nothing’s particularly great either” inclusions that could be argued as filler material, yet it does ultimately help the album feel complete by the end.

Conversely, Twilight In Olympus definitely has its strong points as well which, thankfully, stand out well. Orion-The Hunter takes on a similar identity to In the Dragon’s Den except the more typical song length of the band makes it vastly superior. The extra time taken to elaborate and slow the overall tempo down just a bit pays off very well so that the track is mildly exciting but retains the band’s core sound. But one simply can’t mention Twilight In Olympus without bringing up Through the Looking Glass , which, though far from the band’s longest or most epic track, is a still-excellent and wondrous listen. It’s points like these that show just how a well-executed song of its length can immensely benefit both the album and the band overall.

By the time Lady of the Snow has graced the listener a good bit of ground has been covered. And, in-spite of being longer than your more straightforward album, it all feels remarkably well-paced. This is one of the ultimate treats Symphony X bestows upon their audiences: releases that, though full of content, don’t drag out and are thus very enjoyable. Now, granted, Twilight In Olympus isn’t an excellent album. Though the weaker tracks aren’t necessarily “weak” so to speak (save for In the Dragon’s Den ), the only song that really stands high and tall is its sole epic. As for the rest of the songs, it’s all content that finds itself between good and great which becomes a consistent impression with each listening. In essence, this is a stellar album with one exceptional shining moment. Fans might not consider this the most immediately recommendable release (and rightly so), but it’s a good enough starting point for anyone who has yet to experience the elaboration crafted by a very talented group.

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user ratings (402)
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Contributing Reviewer
March 20th 2010


Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

This was the first album I heard by the band (since I found it used for $6 at the time), and since I've heard it several times since then I figured it'd be fitting to review it.

Staff Reviewer
March 20th 2010


Album Rating: 4.0

Quite good review.

This is my favorite Symphony X record.

The neo-classic musical influences are reduced to minimum on this one, and that's why i personally consider it above all their previous and later releases.

Although not every song is top-notch - and that's related to the fact that their record company forced them to issue asap a follow-up to the Divine Wings of Tragedy album - the album flows like good wine on the throat.

I can listen to it ALL day and never get bored, unlike the Divine Wings of Tragedy for example, which sounds to my ears "overloaded".

Digging: Veiled (DE) - In Blinding Presence

Contributing Reviewer
March 20th 2010


Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Really? I just recently got Divine Wings of Tragedy, have listened to it at least 5 times already and I love it. The opening and title tracks are just pure eargasms.

March 20th 2010


Album Rating: 2.0

I haven't heard the first 2 albums, but this one is by far their worst.

March 28th 2018


Album Rating: 3.5

Listened to it today, after many years, and realised "Smoke and Mirrors" is a blueprint copy of Yngwie Malmsteen style. And disagree with reviewer, I think is a killer track.

April 24th 2018


Album Rating: 4.5

This is definitely one of their most underappreciated albums and some of Thomas Miller's best work along with the rest of the band before his sad departure. It's only unfortunate enough to be sandwiched between two other masterpieces.

April 25th 2018


Album Rating: 4.5

It'll be an unpopular opinion but I really like it and at some parts I'd even put it over TDWOT. Through the looking glass gets me everytime.

April 25th 2018


Album Rating: 4.0

I agree about that

TDWOT feels a bit bloated at times

Digging: Sir Lord Baltimore - Kingdom Come

February 28th 2019


This is probably one of my least favourites of theirs. Just never warmed up to it

Digging: The Chemical Brothers - No Geography

Ocean of Noise
February 28th 2019


Album Rating: 4.0

Nah this one's awesome. I'd say it's in the middle of my ranking of their discog but it's still a nice transition between two classics

Digging: Buckethead - Trace Candle

March 1st 2019


Album Rating: 4.5

but bro


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