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Symphony X has only had one worse release, their debut (due to an annoying singer), but this is clearly their worst production yet. Their albums up until this point have been impeccable, but on this, they seem to be toying with new elements, and the resulting album just seems out-of-place for them. They've added heavier symphony elements and a more chunky guitar sound, but the two conflict with each other, the guitars disrupting a beautiful atmosphere part or a too-loud fake symphony hiding awesome guitar work. The band-members performance is at their weakest here also. Romeo isn't as technical as on other albums, Pinnela doesn't have the 'right' presence, Allen seems too quiet and often can't be heard (not his fault though, his individual stuff is still pretty good.) Jason Rullo, however, pulls some incredible drum tracks, easily the highlight of the album.
V starts with a prelude, a simple little choir(The choirs need more power in this album, however) with a riff, and goes into Evolution. Evolution is one of the standout tracks, and provides one of the few catchy parts. Fallen shows the CD losing some steam, with a resurgence on Transcendence and Communion. Then the album has a another lackluster track followed by a segue. (These segues are actually quite good, but they're way too short) Egypt find the second big highlight of the album, while not as good as Evolution, it incorporates some interesting Egyptian-sounding themes.
After this, the album just starts to decay. It goes back for a little bit to quality in A Fools Paradise, but the album fails to deliver after this. Rediscovery has a few interesting bits, but unlike Symphony Xs other 10-minute plus epics, this one falls prey to the beast of feeling drawn-out. Like many of the tracks on the album.
Overall, this is more of a skip-to-the-highlights album, and really only serves as a transition to the heavier and much better Odyssey. I'd say to only buy this album if you've already got Symphony Xs other albums and immensely enjoy them.
Highlights: Evolution (The Grand Design), Egypt, A Fools Paradise