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I was very excited when I got this album. Much more than excited, I was euphoric! I had nothing but superb hopes for this album, especially after (what I consider to be their best album) Paradise Lost. So I popped the cd into my car driving to work one day and listened to it. When Iconoclast began I was all like, "Wooohooo this is sooo cool" with the little Metroid-sounding electric sound slowly going into piano and then the riff came in and I was like "wooo" and so on so on. Then the chorus came. Which was terrible. But I overlooked that when the solo came and after picking up pieces of my freshly melted face the song ended and overall an enjoyable experience.
Then came "The End of Innocence". Now don't get me wrong, the song is great, but it's "Set the World on Fire" with different lyrics. I really am not kidding very much. From the intro which is the same to even the weird 7/8 bridge to the first verse, which is the same and blah blah blah. Then upon listening to the rest of the album, it's almost a complete rehash of Paradise Lost, but not as good. It is all exactly as my title put - Americanized.
Now not to say that there's anything wrong with American music (well, I believe there is, but you can come to your own opinions about that), but Symphony X has always set themselves aside for me as being the most melodic/harmonic metal band from America to still maintain awesomeness. But now this album is essentially 9 parts rhythmic and 1 part melodic (on a ten part scale). Very little, if any, harmonic elements to be seen. The vocals consist of Russel Allen's voice sometimes even doing what seems as rapping; senseless, non-lyrical, metered rhymes ("Pull the Switch", you son of a bitch", for example, from what I consider the worst song on the album) and at the end of the day, they're just very rhythmic. Which isn't bad. I just think it is. It's too easy and very unimpressive.
This album also evoked no emotion in me...at all...besides disappointment. Paradise Lost unleashed so much emotion that it was incredible; triumphant in "Set the World on Fire", remorseful on "Paradise Lost", so on and so forth. That album had a story, a purpose. This is about machines taking over the world. I can watch the Matrix and have essentially the same experience (though even that considered, there's still more emotion than Keanu Reeves in this album).
So here we are, me trashing the album for a good four paragraphs as you are all thinking, "now why, sir, did you give them an 80 if it was that bad?". And I shall indeed enlighten you - Symphony X is still amazing. Even their trash is good to my ears. I just hope they recover some lost ground on their next album.