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Let's get this straight. Symphony X is one of my favorite metal bands. I love the keyboards and prog influences. With this album they took a little different turn by adding more fast riffs and grungier vocals. Songs like "Inferno (Unleash The Fire)" and "Kings Of Terror" literally burst open with intensity. Let me say, this album is brilliant.
As I said the speed is a big factor in this disc. It opens with fierce riffing and continues on for a large majority of the album. However, unlike "thrash" music, it appeals to me a lot. It is like Blind Guardian's "Tales From The Twilight World", a clash between two very different genres. I like speed and anger when I can still headbang, but when it gets too fast and too much screaming, I find it tiresome. There are some more angry vocals here, but they still maintain their prog-ness and are still as brilliant as before without losing their flair.
"Inferno" is one of those songs that you wish you could play on guitar. It's fast, shredding, and heavy and never lets up. The same goes for "Kings Of Terror" which even has a part in the middle that sounds just like a part in "Inferno". Whether it was intentional or not, I don't know.
Remember "Accolade" Symphony X fans? Well, it's back with "Accolade II"! Oh goodie! Sure, it's no "Accolade I" but it's a good, long, song that like the original is a little slower and epic than the other tracks. It has great contrast on this album though because of the ferocity of the other songs. "Awakenings" is also a slower song, also very long, but better, and more heart-felt. Well, at least at the beginning before an odd chord begins banging out on the keyboard like a middle school chorus teacher trying to get her students to sing the right note. It's only awkward for a second and then...bring in the band. Shredding resumes.
That just about brings me to the best part of the album, the title track. This multi-part 25 minute epic recalls such songs as "Achilles, Agony, And Ecstasy In Eight Parts", "And Then There Was Silence", and "Divine Wings Of Tragedy." Symphony X's "Divine Wings..." has gotten a lot of praise as a 20 minute epic, but this is much better. Think a whole album worth of amazing songs jammed into 25 minutes, and you have it. The song follows an arc, starting epic, dying down, building, raging, dying down, being REALLY amazing, then ending. You may wonder what the REALLY amazing part is. Well, it's the final part, "The Fate Of The Suitors/ Champion Of Ithica". It is one of the catchiest, most glorious, melodic, rich, full, guitar/ keyboard based songs ever. (I know it's not an individual song on it's own, but it plays like one.) The whole "Odyssey" song is less thrashy and raging then the other songs on the album, bringing back to mind all the old Symphony X albums, but better. Definitely my favorite Symphony X song.
Full of rage, speed, anger and a beautiful 25 minute epic, "The Odyssey" marks in as #2 on my top Symphony X albums list. Just the title track is worth 12 dollars, and that statement alone proves how great this disc is.