Friday, August 27, 2010

Symphony X - Paradise Lost

Best of 2007?

Damn close. I don't really know any other album that blew me away as much as Symphony X's latest outing, so I guess the title would indeed go to them. People complain that this is a departure from their style, seeing as to how this is the first Symphony X album I've ever been able to sit through in its entirety, I can safely say that this is my favorite, and I really don't care how different it is. The epic intro of Oculus Ex Inferni was strange to me, I was listening to this wondering how on earth they could possibly make this into something totally metal without descending into self indulgent wankery. Set the World on Fire quickly tore through the speakers in my car and set my ass straight. I purposely parked in the parking lot of Menard's on my way back home from Best Buy after buying this, purely so I could just sit there and listen to the whole album before I had to eject it.

Yes, that is the only album that has managed to do that to me. The Stench of Redemption got close, but this one pulled it off. Michael Romero is a fucking wizard, we all know that, and he impressed me the most on this album. Sure, the riffs are a bit more stripped down and simplistic than Divine Wings of Tragedy or something, but they have never kicked this much ass. As somebody from another site mentioned, they are one of the few bands that don't forget the "metal" part of "progressive metal". Russell Allen is highly impressive here as well, in fact, this performance has made him one of my favorite metal vocalists. Yeah, above the guy from Virgin Steele, that's how awesome. The keys have some standout solos, and the bass and drums would be phenomenal in any other band, but here they are kind of overshadowed by the sheer amazingness of Romero and Allen. That doesn't stop the intro of Domination from absolutely destroying everyone and everything.

My neck hurt after listening to this album, prog metal rarely makes me hurt myself (unless I'm eating glass to try and forget the pain my ears are experiencing (in case you haven't noticed, I'm not a huge prog fan)). Prog usually bores me. The musicians are always astounding, but rarely do I hear a song that I just want to hear over and over again until I puke. This should be a testament to how great Paradise Lost is, because I knew all of the words to Eve of Seduction after about two days of casual listening. This album is catchy and fucking furious.

Before y'all get annoyed of my constant gushing again, I'll point out the shortcomings. The second ballad, The Sacrifice, isn't all that great or interesting. I hear a lot of Dream Theater in it, which is a bad thing for the most part. At least Allen kicks ass on it, as opposed to how it would sound of LaBrie was whining all over the top of it. I feel I should also mention that the solo is breathtakingly great. But on the whole, The Sacrifice is a boring song, not bad, just boring. The first ballad, on the other hand, is astounding, so don't get the idea that I am against anything that doesn't rage along at 255 bpm. That said, Serpent's Kiss isn't as magnificent as the rest either, it seems to be the grooviest (which isn't necessarily bad, it just doesn't seem to work here).

But that's really the only bad part on the album. Even the nine minute closer remains captivating throughout the duration. Eve of Seduction has some of the cheesier/dumber romance lyrics I've ever heard, but judging by the destructive fucking speed/power/prog metal on top of them, you'd never guess what it was about. (Which reminds me, this album is pretty hard to classify. Prog metal would be an acceptable blanket genre, but it also has strong elements of both power and groove metal infused inside.) Domination has one of the coolest intros I've ever heard, the drummer has to verge on spontaneously combusting during that part with the insanely precise double kicks. Seven just oozes with symbolism (seven minutes?! seventh song?! oh my goodness!!), but the cheese factor doesn't stop it from kicking just as much ass as the rest of the record. The title track is another choice cut, despite being a beautiful piano driven tune as opposed to the rest of the balls out metal on here.

So yeah, my favorite songs would probably be Eve of Seduction, Seven, or Set the World on Fire, but there aren't any bad ones. Serpent's Kiss is only average and The Sacrifice doesn't measure up to the rest, but they aren't bad songs at all. While I'm sure I've rated or will rate other 2007 albums higher than this album's 94, the title of best of '07 still goes to Symphony X. Try it out. From what I understand, fans of older material won't dig this as much as I did, but judge it on it's own merit, not what you think it has to live up to, it becomes a much better album that way.

RATING - 94%

(side note, this is an old review, this isn't best of '07 at all) 

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