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Paradise Found - 100%

CireX, August 11th, 2016

Symphony X is a band that offers an original blend of progressive metal/rock and power metal with neoclassical metal as well as symphonic metal.

With their seventh studio effort, Paradise Lost, Symphony X has decided to place more focus on writing lean, refined and strong material throughout, with not so much as an instant of filler present. This is perhaps most evidenced by the fact that not one of the compositions reaches the ten-minute mark. Yet the songs are not short either, ranging from just shy of five minutes to well over nine minutes with the exception of the introductory instrumental track. It's simply that, as is the case with all Symphony X compositions and especially so here, the songs are not a second longer than what is necessary. This trait of tightness would continue to be prevalent in subsequent releases as well. Beyond the refined approach to the music, another aspect that sets the album apart from others is its intensity. The tracks are powerful, aurally and emotionally. I would even go so far as to say that I have seldom, if ever, experienced music with the level of ferocity and excitement heard here. The power metal elements of the band's music have rarely been as pronounced as in "Set the World on Fire (The Lie of Lies)", "Seven" and certain sections of "The Walls of Babylon". The groove metal sound that was initially introduced in The Odyssey is developed further and utilized with "Domination" as well as in some segments of "Set the World on Fire (The Lie of Lies)" and "The Serpent's Kiss". Symphony X has also composed more songs of the softer variety with the beautiful ballads "Paradise Lost" and "The Sacrifice" for the audience to delve into.

I’d actually like to take a moment to do some delving of my own in regards to the title track, since there will never be a song so deserving of special recognition. It is angelic. The song features some of Russell Allen's finest singing hitherto, his completely captivating voice crooning majestic melodies over music I can only describe as lovely. An exquisite assortment of acoustic and electric guitars, string synthesizer and piano share alongside the vocals in articulating the melody while bass and drums delicately deliver the pulse of the song, the rhythm, with singular grace. With that being said, "Paradise Lost" may possibly be the band's most accomplished ballad to date. Representing the epic side of Symphony X is "The Walls of Babylon" and, better still, "Revelation (Divus Pennae Ex Tragoedia), which vies with the title track as the magnum opus of the album. Despite the record's taught nature, it is not without extremely progressive parts as heard during "Oculus Ex Inferni" as well as the intro of "The Walls of Babylon" and mid-section of "Revelation (Divus Pennae Ex Tragoedia)". The Japanese Special Edition has the two short instrumental tracks "Sacrifice Prelude (Demo)" and "Opening Alternate Intro (Demo)", both of which serve to showcase the symphonic side of the band in addition to "Oculus Ex Inferni". In some regards, Paradise Lost sounds like a revamped Symphony X with a lot of power and energy to spare.

An interesting bit of trivia is that the ending of "Revelation (Divus Pennae Ex Tragoedia) reprises the main melody of "The Divine Wings of Tragedy" in gothic-like fashion. Another connection that the two records share is illustrated by artwork, with both albums front covers featuring what is presumed to be the same woman with a single rose held in hand.

Augmenting the powerful sound of the record is the phenomenal quality of the production values. The volume of the music has been elevated to maximum levels, through the utilization of signal processing techniques. This of course results in a slight loss of dynamic range, but overall I feel that this was the correct artistic decision for an album of this intent. The end result is perfect production quality where all of the instrumentation and vocal performance shines in the mix simultaneously.

Another way in which both the instruments and vocals shine is in their virtuosity. Despite the leanness of the material, not even an iota of musicianship is sacrificed in exchange. Indeed, the musicianship is what many have come to expect from Symphony X: impossibly complex and technical. The prowess of guitarist Michael Romeo's playing is demonstrated with countless guitar riffs and face-melting solos. One such solo at the end of "The Sacrifice" is of particular interest; it is the first and only acoustic guitar solo in the band's discography! Overall, the guitars are perhaps slightly more pronounced than on previous records, but when Romeo's thick, smooth tone fits the dark and epic nature of the album so well, I don't think that anyone will complain. I for one surely will not! Vocalist Russell Allen employs some new manners of singing throughout the album's duration, usually by virtue of varying styles of emotionally powerful distorted grit. Just listen to "Domination" and hear for yourself that the intensity of his voice is unmatched. As a result, however, there are less purely clean sung pieces, with most coming in the way of the title track or "Revelation (Divus Pennae Ex Tragoedia)". A significant portion of the gothic, organic feel of the album owes to the keyboard playing of Michael Pinnella, who is, as usual, almost inhuman in his ability to blend musicality and technicality. There are some insane keyboard solos here; the two in "The Walls of Babylon" provide great examples. Jason Rullo's performance on drums is phenomenal too, especially throughout the intro of the same song. Incredibly tight is his drumming, whether during the rhythms that perfects each song or while he unleashes any of the many stellar solos throughout the record. Bass guitar, played by Michael Lepond, also has great importance in many moments and even leads the music during speedy yet tasteful solos such as heard on "Domination", "Seven" and "The Sacrifice". To summarize, the vocals are breathtaking and the musicianship is out of this world!

The band's final release through Inside Out Records, Paradise Lost, is a perfect album, as are all Symphony X records! From the opening moments of "Oculus Ex Inferni" all the way through to the final fantastic finish of "Revelation (Divus Pennae Ex Tragoedia)", Paradise Lost offers absolutely amazing music. Not a single second has gone to waste on this record! A masterpiece that should never under any circumstance be omitted, Paradise Lost is the result of approximately five years worth of dedication, effort and love poured into its creation. Indeed, Symphony X has crafted a musical paradise with this album just as you, the audience, will have found paradise upon the listening of it.

Let the winds of freedom be my guide! - 100%

BlackMetal213, April 21st, 2016

Ah, my freshman year of high school. I think I was as musically confused then as I ever would be. I had only been listening to metal for about two years at all during that point and, as to be expected with a lot of people, I was listening to a lot of bands then that I would end up growing out of, such as The Devil Wears Prada and A Day to Remember. Basically, I was listening to bands I thought were metal and awesome but ended up changing my opinion. Around the winter holidays of 2009, I had begun listening to bands that were much more "acceptable" such as Dimmu Borgir, Burzum, Korpiklaani, Ensiferum, Wintersun, etc. More metal bands with a ton of variety. Symphony X was among those bands as well. I had listened to two of their albums: "V: The New Mythology Suite" and "Paradise Lost". The first album sounded great but this album remains my favorite release from these guys to date, as I eventually went back and listened to the band's entire back catalogue. Often viewed as their "selling out" point, "Paradise Lost" has garnered it's fair share of negativity but also an overwhelming critical acclaim, and for good reason.

When compared to the band's previous six albums, "Paradise Lost" actually differs quite a bit. A noticeable difference is the guitar work. While this album is still epic and theatrical in nature, it seems to focus more on the aggressive side of metal. Basically, at the time, this was Symphony X's heaviest album. It also pushes the progressive style back a bit in favor of a power metal sound, which had caused some disgruntlement among a lot of the band's fans, yet at the same time, opened new doors and reached out to new fans alike. I'm not one to compare Blind Guardian to Symphony X but when they released their album "A Twist in the Myth" in 2006, incorporating progressive elements while still playing power metal, this also caused issues with a group of the band's fanbase. Like that Blind Guardian album, this album blends power metal with progressive elements but the prog tends to be cast aside a bit. The only difference is Symphony X is a progressive metal band first and a power metal band second.

Going back to the guitar work, it tends to be heavier and faster most of the time. It focuses less on complexity and more on heaviness, energy, and catchiness. The riffs are melodic, yet not as melodic on past albums such as "Twilight in Olympus", and usually to the point. The songs for the most part are also a bit shorter than they were on certain albums prior to this one, as no song eclipses the 10 minute mark. The longest track here is "Revelation (Divus Pennae Ex Tragoedia)" which runs slightly over 9 minutes. Because the songs are shorter and generally more focused, this album loses a lot of that progressive atmosphere this band is usually known for. The title track remains my favorite song from this album to date and even competes with epics such as "The Odyssey" as my favorite song without being over the top and progressively proficient. The chorus in this song is one of the most memorable moments on the entire album. The guitar solos are still as impressive as ever so listener fear not, we still have that! I know a lot of people prefer the band's prog work but really, this album is just so damn good at what it does. The orchestral segments are still here as well. "Oculus Ex Inferni" kicks this hour of musical ecstasy off with a foreboding symphonic piece and the album even ends with the same theme as well, seeming to bring this thing around in a full circle.

Russell Allen is one of the greatest vocalists in the entire metal scene. His voice is angelic most of the time but can be dark and aggressive as well. No, there aren't any death growls or anything like that, but his voice can sound quite gritty at times. Usually, he uses a higher pitched style of singing that suits both the band's progressive metal and power metal sides alike. The album is full of catchy choruses that remain in your head for days and that is all thanks to Russell's magnificent voice. The aforementioned title track is not the only example of this. "Eve of Seduction" competes with this song for the best chorus on the album, and songs like "Set the World on Fire" really show his aggressive side with a more throaty style of vocals.

The drums also show more of an aggressive side and this is due to the faster, heavier guitar riffs and darker vocal performance. Jason Rullo is definitely a competent drummer and I can't find any faults or errors in his performance here. His precision and attention to detail seems to be even stronger here than with any other Symphony X album, to my ears anyway. Loaded with double bass and even a bit of a thrash influence at times, the drums play their part exceptionally well without overstepping any boundaries or being more prominent than they should be.

Being one of my first albums from Symphony X, this will always hold a special place in my heart. I can't find any faults with it on a personal level but I certainly can see how a lot of fans would be alienated by it having listened to this band since the first albums. This is "symphonic/progressive power metal" at its finest and I'd recommend it to anyone into a more epic style of metal.

The inevitable commercialization - 50%

Human666, April 21st, 2016

It was hinted in The Odyssey that Symphony X are heading towards a heavier sound, and Paradise Lost is probably the first album of "The new Symphony X". Unfortunately, new isn't always better. The whole new heavier, more approachable direction the band had taken was at the expense of what made them unique at the first place. There is nothing in Paradise Lost that is even slightly sophisticated or inspiring as was in The Divine Wings of Tragedy or The Odyssey. There is also nothing really bad about this album, but sometimes being disappointing is worse than just being bad.

This album is a collection of ear candies. Take some generic heavy riffs, sing some aggressive verses and balance the aggressions with semi melodic chorus that is as simple as possible, throw some fast solos to satisfy the guitar fans and the product is finished. There is nothing ambitious in this record. It's just a metal for the masses record that succeed in its goal to make the band more approachable and gain a wider audience. After all, being artistic isn't always possible in a materialistic world, and I really don't blame the band for trying to reach out as many people as possible, because after all, we all need money to survive and I guess that it's better to compromise and release lesser albums when your creativity is more or less over than releasing nothing at all and losing momentum.

There is nothing extremely bad in this album, it's just get boring very quickly and feels very generic. Set The World On Fire begins with the most common riff in metal (I've already heard it in Destruction's Curse the Gods, Dream Theater's A Change Of Seasons, just to name a few), the verses are disposable and forgettable and the chorus is passable but not intense enough. Domination is just a mishmash of uninspired riffs and overly simple and anemic chorus. The title track sounds like a very bad attempt at recycling The Accolade and just goes nowhere. Very weak songwriting.

There are no surprising moments in this album, nor any inspiring moments. There is also nothing especially bad here, this album is just an ongoing exhibition of generic heavy metal songs with necessary random instrumental sections to stretch the songs a bit longer so they would fall under the category of progressive metal.

Anyway, nothing fascinating in this album. A lot of people going to like the simplicity and straightforwardness of this one, and indeed the band became way more popular after this one, but I'll stick with older version of the band. I think that albums such as these are good excuse to embark worldwide tours, but their life span is shorter and their artistic significance is minor, if any.

Simply: An amazing album! - 90%

Lane, September 19th, 2012

Back in the early 21st century, I grabbed a cheap copy of Symphony X's 'V' (2000), because I'd heard a lot of good things about the band. My impressions about the album was that it was "too classically influenced and capriciously proggy, but with great vocals." Not that I really gave it time to show its strengths. Come 2007, and I was persuaded to check out 'Paradise Lost'. During the years, I'd heard Russell Allen's vocals performances on many albums, actually all the bands he is/was a part of, so I wasn't too much afraid to give 'Paradise Lost' a chance.

And am I happy I did?! A huge, resounding YES! This album features all the elements the band have been known for: They are actually progressive, they are influenced by classical music, they are heavier than your average prog metal band and every musician give a stellar performance. But I was surprised, knowing the band's output poorly, that the music is absolutely catchy. The album's 60 minutes and 66 seconds are filled with essential music, without any filler material. The album flows blazingly, despite the twisting progressive nature of the music, albeit this is not the case with every song this time around.

The lyrical theme, which is the battling between the good and the evil, is a bit dull-edged for me, but let's see how it was portrayed with the music. 'Oculus Ex Inferi' is epic dark mood-rising metalized symphonic instrumental. You've surely heard this done by Dimmu Borgir, Cradle Of Filth and the likes, but Symphony X have succeeded much better than any of those that I've heard. The attack begins with 'Set the World on Fire (The Lie of Lies)'. It simply rumbles over a careless listener with its ferocity. My initial thought was, that "is this really Symphony X playing?" It is heavier, ripping (an adjective not so common with this band) and more captivating than anything from the band I'd heard earlier. 'Domination' continues the controlled whirlwind, showcasing more shredding (another adjective not so common with this band) nature. 'Serpent's Kiss' is more charming piece, as fits with the lyrics. The title track is the first slow song of the album, and can be narrowed into a sentence from its lyrics: "Love is a tragedy." The song is beautiful to the core, but not lame sugary way. 'Eve of Seduction' is probably the most simple song from the band to date, but it does not decrease its value a bit. It is catchier than many a "radio friendly" song! Then again, illustrative 'The Walls of Babylon', is on the more progressive corner. 'Seven' is the neo-classical epic of the album, and 'The Sacrifice' is its tearjerker. The biggest epic is left last. 'Revelation (Divus Pennae Ex Tragoedia)' is pure manna for older Symphony X fanatics. On it, the different sides of the band are all rammed into one song. This is a long album, but thanks to the diversity-in-uniformity, it provides a lot to listen to with your mouth open and drool flowing out from it. Partly instant, partly needs some digging in.

The band's performance is nothing short of amazing all the way through. Russell Allen, the voice with many faces, offers his darkest ever performance on this album. He does some throat singing, yet not growling, and soon goes into soothing territories. His voice is very powerful and deep indeed. "Alpha male" is the term that comes to my mind when listening to this fellow, there's no better term I can picture how Mr. Allen sounds like. The lyrics are pure poetry. "When the stars lose their fine. And night steals the morning away. Forever and the day." All the music expect the title track was composed by guitar virtuoso Michael Romeo. Keyboardist Michael Pinnella co-wrote the title track. Rhythm section of bassist Michael Lepond and drummer extraordinaire James Rullo provide thick yet sensorium-expanding backbone. There is a lot of superlative playing going on, but it doesn't feel forced, it comes all natural and sounds, well, merry, in lack of a better word. I think that every guy has invented something new in his field in these songs. Sound-wise this is something like perfect. It's crystal clear, but the lower end scrambles the nuts. It is well-balanced, but shows every fine detail from every guy. It is big, but not plastic.

The cover and booklet artwork, even though created with computer, is awesome. Cut-to-shape digipak does look good, but the bonus DVD doesn't. It contains 10 songs with amateurish picture and sound quality. All the songs are shot with one camera only. But I don't doubt a bit, that a true SX-fanatic is pissing some honey over it. At least it showcases older material for people like me. I can't wait for a professionally done concert DVD from the band now, because the band's vibe looks good, I can't but laugh heartily looking Mr. Allen doing his monster stuff.

'Paradise Lost' is progressive without being too tortuous, but more like awe-inspiringly performed metal. An essential purchase for any technical or progressive or heavy or power metal fanatic, but I really encourage any metal music fan who likes good music. That is exactly what you'll find here, with exquisite construction in every possible way. You simply can't go wrong with this one. Now, fetch!

(originally written for in 2008)

The power metal side of Symphony X - 100%

ijy10152, July 13th, 2012

The first thing anyone will note about this album is that it's a hell of a lot heavier than anything Symphony X has written before. In The Odyssey, the band managed to make their sound heavier and darker and still keep their progressive side evident in the music; it was a really good blending of styles, but this time they are nearly completely abandoning their progressive roots in favor of a more power metal style. As a power metal fan, I love this and I think that Symphony x makes an excellent power metal band. As that infers, there are a lot less complex drum beats and changes in meter and more speed, energy, and high vocals.

The choruses are just as good as ever with a few that I think deserve special mention in that department. Set the World on Fire, Paradise Lost, Eve of Seduction, Seven, and Revelation have some of my absolute favorite choruses of all time. Allen really has his work cut out for him on this album with some really good vocals on this album. I mean REALLY good. Personally, I think he sounds better than he ever has before or after this album. On tracks like Paradise Lost he shows just how emotional he can be with his singing and boy does he have a lot of emotion. He seems even more emotive than ever and with two ballads on this album he has even more license to show off that skill. Even on the rest of the tracks he still manages to be incredibly emotive. Even though the style on this album is less complex and much faster than usual, it still manages to have this level of depth that amazes me and is a huge part of what I love about Symphony X.

Every song on this is amazing with the possible exception of The Serpents Kiss, which I would describe as good, but not great. The real highlights are Set the World on Fire, Paradise Lost, Eve of Seduction, and Revelation. I really want to talk about Paradise Lost. This is an amazing ballad. Symphony X has always written really good ballads, especially with The Accolade (both of them), and this one gives both of them a good run for their money. It has a fantastic chorus that you'll be singing for weeks after hearing it. It also has a certain beauty about it that I can't help but admire. The raw emotion in it really speaks to Symphony X's ability to write really good ballads. They manage that balance of beauty, emotion, and catchiness that few other bands manage in a ballad. Many bands have ballads that end up being too slow and way too boring *cough, cough Sonata Arctica, cough* and this one just manages to blend it all together really well and is definitely the best song off this album.

Set the World on Fire and Eve of Seduction are both in the power metal vein and are very good power metal songs with very catchy choruses, soaring vocals, and awesome riffs and solos. Revelation is an awesome epic with this really cool theme that it brings back throughout the whole song that I love. It really is very epic with slow parts that build up very dramatically into some crazy solos, riffs, and an amazing chorus.

On top of all this, it's a concept album, which I happen to love. For those of you who don't know, Paradise Lost is an epic poem by John Milton that tells of Satan's rebellion and the fall of Adam and Eve. For such a long and convoluted epic, Symphony X really did a great job of bringing it all together in this just over an hour long album. The story is told in a very straightforward and relatively easy to understand manner. This whole album is great and is either their first or second best album, the other contender being The Odyssey. This is definitely a must buy for Symphony X fans and metal fans alike.

Brutal for Symphony X - 95%

Beings_Mythos, January 5th, 2011

Paradise Lost was released in 2007. Symphony X's 7th studio album is proof that the band has not only retained their heavy edge, but in fact has been sharpening it with each sequential album since their initiation into the progressive rock scene with their 1994 self titled debut. The 6 year gap between the releases of The Odyssey and Paradise Lost along with tours including 2005's Gigantour in between built up a lot of anticipation for Paradise Lost.

Oculus Ex Inferni opens the album very melodramatically. Choir and orchestral composition are the main focus as the musical theme changes throughout the 2:34 keeping it fresh without becoming detached from itself and it's main purpose of setting up the next track and the rest of the album.

Track 1 fades into Set the World on Fire. This track is one of Symphony X's heaviest in their career up to this point and time and is also the track of choice in the second music video of their career. The verse riff doesn't move around as much as some of Romeo's typical grinding rhythms and is focused on barring down while during the verses Russell Allen's vocals tread a thin line of singing that threatens to cross over into guttural at any moment. The chorus provides a bit of relief from the heavy verse to something more “typical” of Symphony X with a galloping rhythm and vocals portraying something akin to both a rallying battle cry and riding off into the sunset. Then a lead guitar and synthesizer harmony is followed by Romeo and Pinella trading solos. Orchestrations are at a minimal until a fairly conservative choir arrangement at the end placed over a heavy medium tempo riff equally as conservative, yet very affective. From here on the album gets heavier and more intense.

Paradise Lost is a perfected “typical” Symphony X ballad and is the first break in intensity after 4 tracks. More focused on layers, harmonies, textures and vocal melodies it is as smooth as Russell Allen's voice.

The Walls of Babylon . . . . This is where Symphony X switches it up, combining everything new they have done so far in the album with the old. They take a little more time to develop musical ideas and themes, the orchestrations make more distinct contributions, the verses are heavy, the chorus is intensely melodramatic (with lyrics about the war hammer of the gods), and the outro is a short repeated grinding lick very reminiscent of Dimbag Darrell.

The rest of the album only gets better in all aspects.

When Symphony X joined Gigantour (which included Megadeth, Dream Theater, Nevermore, Fear Factory, and Dillenger Escape Plan amongst it's set) I have no doubt that it impacted the creative flow of Symphony X, not to mention at the time Dimbag Darrell's death was fresh in everyone's minds. There are no 24 minute tracks like The Odyssey, neo-classical influences are less flamboyant, and synth/orchestral sections tend to take a back seat more. Lyrically the themes tend to be a bit darker but are not much of a departure from previous works. With V: The New Mythology Suite the group tried a very “wet” sound (reverb, gain saturation, time based effects), then went very “dry” with The Odyssey. Paradise Lost is evidence that they have found the perfect balance of the two. Michael Romeo's production skills have matured and if Symphony X ever disbands I wouldn't be surprised to see him going for film scoring much like Danny Elfman did.

On both the heavy metal and Symphony X standard I give Paradise Lost a solid “A”.

For someone wanting to try out Symphony X for the first time I would recommend this to heavy metal fans as it is the most straight forward and heaviest of all their albums. For progressive rock fans I would recommend V: The New Mythology Suite or The Odyssey.

Does the Hunter Pity His Prey? - 93%

Twisted_Psychology, March 3rd, 2010

Depending on whether you like it or not, this 2007 album is either Symphony X's answer to "Painkiller" or "Jugulator." It was released five years after "The Odyssey" came out and was held to the fanbase's understandably great expectations. The resulting effort summons an interesting debate on whether it's a successful experiment with a heavier sound or a half-baked dive into bone-headed, groove-oriented territory...

As established by many other listeners, this album fully embraces the aggressive sounds that were hinted at on "The Odyssey" and may very well be the band's heaviest to date. While the keyboards continue to be a prominent component of the band's sound, some of the symphonic elements that appeared on the band's previous efforts seem to be a little more toned down this time around with the near ten minute "Revelation (Divus Penniae ex Tragoedia)" (I saw what you did thar) proving to be the closest thing that this album has to an epic track. It's a long duration by many bands' standards but seems a little underwhelming when taking this group's past into consideration...

The guitar and vocal performances in particular reflect many of the changes that have taken place over the last few years. Guitarist Michael Romeo has always stood on the thin line between Yngwie Malmsteen and Dimebag Darrell with a slight leaning towards the former, but he seems to be giving the latter a closer look. His riffs have become heavier and partake a few more groove moments than usual. And while Rob Halford tested the extremes of his upper range on the legendary "Painkiller," vocalist Russell Allen takes the low road and lets out some pretty muscular sounding lines in the process. The borderline "growls" may put a few people off, but he can still carry a tune quite nicely and appropriately incorporates some sweet melodies into the two ballads.

Speaking of songs, there isn't too much filler to be found here and a lot of the album seems to be based around fast-paced power metal numbers. Of course, there are some exceptions to the rule with a powerful opening instrumental ("Oculus ex Inferni"), some murky mid-tempo tracks ("Domination," "Serpent's Kiss") and the two previously mentioned ballads ("Paradise Lost," "The Sacrifice") providing some good padding. The excellent one-two punch of "Oculus ex Inferni" and "Set the World Afire (The Lies of Lies)" is the album's strongest point and I also highly regard "Eve of Seduction" for its smooth tempo transitions and awe-inspiring vocal hooks.

If the musical changes aren't enough to polarize music listeners at this point, then it'll probably be the lyrics that end up doing the job. For just as "Painkiller" seemed to be enveloped in a metallic comic book world and "Jugulator" fixated on a post-modern path to Armageddon, "Paradise Lost" predictably forms a concept around the famous John Milton epic and the overall theme of good versus evil. Nearly every song conjures the iconic images of angels and devils exchanging blows with one another and the ones that don't seem to revolve instead around the relationship and afflictions of Adam and Eve. The individual lines are often cheesy and the song titles are somewhat generic, but there aren't too many subjects that would fit the music as well as the stuff at hand.

All in all, this is one of those albums that really depends on the listener's feelings towards modern power metal with less than subtle hints of cheese thrown in. It isn't quite as good as "The Divine Wings of Tragedy" but it may be my favorite album that came out in 2007. I suppose it's worth checking out for fans of the band and genre. Hell, even the fans of 90's Priest should find some interesting material on here...

1) Heavier guitars and aggressive vocals
2) Epic atmosphere
3) Memorable riffs and hooks

1) Less symphonic elements
2) Generic/cheesy lyrical themes
3) May turn off more established fans

My Current Favorites:
"Oculus Ex Inferni," "Set the World Afire (The Lie of Lies)," "Domination," "Paradise Lost," and "Eve of Seduction"

Milton has rarely sounded this good - 85%

caspianrex, October 9th, 2009

Right off the bat, I'm going to admit to being a neophyte as far as Symphony X is concerned. Oh hell, I'm pretty much a neophyte as far as most metal is concerned. Until just this year, my metal listening consisted mostly of Metallica and Megadeth. Oh, and one Dream Theater album (which barely qualifies as metal, according to lots of metal fans.) But I know what I like. And I like Symphony X. With some qualifications...

First thing is, obviously, these guys can play. The instrumental side of this group is extremely tight. The guitars and keyboards, playing pretty rhythmically complex parts, have a precision that you rarely hear outside of groups like Dream Theater. The drums are so precise, sometimes I find myself wondering if it's not a drum machine. But no, I think it's clear Rullo is a gifted drummer, who can give Mike Portnoy or Neal Peart a run for their money. Back to the guitars for a sec, Michael Romeo's playing is solid, proficient, but sometimes a bit lacking in...that certain metal something. Things can be TOO perfect sometimes, and I'd like to hear a bit more raw edge to the guitars. Some others have complained in the reviews of the album that the bass is mixed too low. I would have to agree with that, and it's a common affliction of metal producers. It must be tough to be a metal bass player, who is playing the hell out of the parts, only to disappear in the mix. Oh, and I shouldn't forget the keyboards. The keyboard playing is tight, too, but it's one of the elements of this band that makes me question whether they are really metal, or just a very heavy prog band.

Now let me address the vocals. I'm kind of mixed on this. Russell Allen is a capable vocalist, and he's definitely not the worst I've ever heard. I hate to belabor the point when it comes to similarities with Dream Theater, but I would definitely prefer Allen to LaBrie. Allen doesn't have that thin, piercing voice that James LaBrie has. He's got more body, more substance. That being said, there are times when the harmony vocal arrangements sound dangerously close to Queen or Stryper. Not there's necessarily anything wrong with that. I'm a pretty big fan of Queen, but so much of this music is so much heavier than Queen, it's a little strange to hear the thick layered harmonies. As I said, it's not necessarily a negative point, just something that I find a little out of place.

Okay, now the lyrics. Obviously, this is a band that is well read. Any band that deals with as many mythological and literary themes as Symphony X does has clearly done their homework. And hey, if you like epic poetry, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And I guess you write what you love. Milton's Paradise Lost is really a tremendous piece of work, and I'm not sure if the quality of these lyrics really matches up to the original. But Milton's blank verse wouldn't probably fit the metal genre too well, I imagine. But sometimes I wonder if these bands that do tributes to classical poetry (this album, Sepultura's Dante XXI, Judas Priest's Nostradamus, etc.) aren't being just a little...lazy. "We can't think of an original idea for a concept album, so we'll just turn into an album. There we go!" Some of these guys should take a tip from King Diamond. I mean, there's a guy who comes up with some truly...unique...ideas for conept albums. And I'm pretty sure all of 'em just come out of his idiosyncratic artistic mind. Once again, I'm kind of torn on this issue, because I like epic poetry alot, and I appreciate the artistic tastes of people who want to pay tribute to their favorite classics of literature. But, on the other hand, this is supposed to be metal...rock 'n' roll! What's next? Hamlet? Romeo and Juliet? Winnie-the-Pooh? (Hey, if any one uses that Winnie-the-Pooh metal album idea, just remember I had it first.)

Overall, I find this a pretty enjoyable listen. And I can definitely appreciate the musical talents of this band. I just sometimes wonder where we draw the line between heavy metal and a bizarre mix between classical literature and Paganini.

Glorious in some ways, an omen in other ways - 80%

SilenceIsConsent, August 13th, 2009

For many years, Symphony X was a really kind of exclusive band for most metalheads. It was a band that remained largely underground, attracting it's own rabid fanbase in the United States and making it's mark in Europe and particularly in Japan. They became another favorite among the typical guitar shredhead's crowd, but otherwise the band had not really seemed to break into the field that most metalheads were at. Then came the 21st Century, then came Gigantour, and then everything has just exploded. Before Gigantour, I knew very few people outside of myself who knew of Symphony X, and now it seems like every other kid and their siblings worship the band like metal gods. They ate up old Symphony X recordings like no one else's business and desperately waited for a new one, and on 2007 they got that new Symphony X recording, with the concept album titled Paradise Lost.

Since Symphony X has seen a huge explosion in popularity, I cannot blame them for this album. What I pride them on is an album that has mostly appeased veteran fans of the band such as myself and making one that is generally more "modern" and appealing to the younger generation. Overall the result is arguably Symphony X's darkest and heaviest album to date and it's most intelligent in one very key aspect that the band has always lacked in, but in another way it's a darker sign. For some reason, I have this very nagging feeling that this is something of a turning point for Symphony X, a turning point of appealing to a younger generation who holds the bands up high with the classics and lame metalcore bands that they love so much.

First of all, the one aspect that I have to get out of the way right now is that lyrically this is Symphony X's best album ever. Pretty much, for all you people who aren't English literature aficionados, the title of the album reveals the concept. For those of you who still don't get it, the entire album is a heavy metal retelling of the poem Paradise Lost. This work by Englishman John Milton is one of the few modern day epics, and it tells the story of how the great angel Lucifer becomes banished from heaven because of his rebellion against God and becomes the ultimate evil that we all know and love today as Satan. For a band that previously had sung mostly about garden variety fantasy with the occasional dabble into ancient Greek mythology, this album rocks. The lyrics of this album are written absolutely awesomely, reflecting the awe inspiring power of both ultimate good and ultimate evil fighting against one other and the way that this is affecting everything else in the process. Huge props to Russell Allen for writing these lyrics so well and making everything seem as power and dark as it is.

Speaking of Russell Allen, this guy performs absolutely amazingly. Russell pushes his vocal prowess above and beyond what I thought the guy could do. His vocals are at the verge of being at growling levels of power, and the anger and evil he pushes out in songs such as Set The World on Fire, Domination, and The Serpent's Kiss will make you tremble like you're being spoken to by Satan himself. The latter of the two he also does some amazingly seductive sounding vocals, acting just like the slithering demon that seduced Adam and Eve into going against god and committing the original sin. For those who liked Russell's more sad sounding and emotional stuff, he has that on songs like the title track (the album's power ballad), Eve of Seduction, and The Sacrifice (the album's straight up ballad) and he sounds as good as ever. Many more catchy vocal patterns are prevalent here then most Symphony x recordings, and I especially enjoyed Russell's performance on this album probably more then any other members.

Michael Romeo, Symphony X's ultimate mastermind, really has directed the band in a bit of a new direction here. As a result. Paradise Lost is without a doubt the heaviest album in Symphony X history. The keys are bombastic and ominous, heralding in on in songs such as Set The World on Fire, the title track, and Seven. Michael Pinnela rips it up with astounding keyboard solos and lines of orchestration that will amaze you to no end. Jason Rullo picks up his A game with pounding beats and a level of ferocity that he has never reached before in all his years behind the drum kit for Symphony X. Bassist Michael Lepond gives a stellar performance throughout the album, even if you can seldom hear him but his wicked intro to Domination will have your jaw dropping and wishing you could play bass like he could, as well as his little tapping sort of lick on Seven. Overall the music is much more dark and bombastic then ever before, and I really have to provide Michael Romeo for making this a milestone in terms of intensity for Symphony X.

Unfortunately, this is where the albums kind of starts to tip off. See in the grand scheme of Symphony X albums, this album is a more straight forward direction then other Symphony X albums. While this is okay as the album isn't as straightforward as the rather lackluster Twilight in Olympus, it's straight forward in a way that starts to make me a bit nervous. Instead of being more power metally and straight forward in that sense like Twilight in Olympus, Paradise Lost is more straight forward in a way that is designed to be heavier. There are more grooves here from Michael Romeo then any other album, continuing a path of overall guitar orientation that was practiced on the album before it. After listening to this album a few times, I can kind of see how kids like this album so much, and it makes me a bit alert to a grim possibility in the future. Could Symphony X be traveling down the path towards simply being a groove metal band with keyboard enhancement? Or even worse, to metalcore? While I doubt such, the band gives everyone a clear sense that they kind of dumbed themselves down here to make things heavier in the progression and technicality department, which annoys me and scares me quite a bit.

Hence the problem comes over to Mr. Romeo. The metal guitar master that attracts Symphony X's biggest acclaim here just sounds dumbed down for the most part. Sure he's ripping as always with the solos, but the riffs aren't as technical and the arrangements aren't as complex. I know he could write better stuff, for he is the guy that pretty much got every kid and their brother's into prog metal has really kind of dumbed himself down. His riffs are more or less a lot of grooves and while that does make things very heavy, going from one groove that uses the same chords to simply playing those same chords in a different manner doesn't make much of a progression. While Rullo changes the beat a lot, Romeo isn't doing much to change the time or key on his end and while he really leads the band, this makes things a bit boring.

The other thing that gets to me is that while the album has no tracks that are longer then ten minutes, these songs are still a bit on the lengthy side. While the band succeeded in chopping down most of the tracks to the proper length on The Odyssey, Paradise Lost they are made a bit longer by a few minutes, and subsequently they start to sound redundant and make you not want to listen anymore. I heard this most honestly on Domination, The Serpent's Kiss, and Eve of Seduction. These songs both start off rather intense but then they just start to tip off after awhile and you start yawning and want to move onto the track already. I wouldn't mind this if they were more progressive like on The Odyssey but now they're not as progressive and more straight forward for the sake of heaviness and the band starts to lag and just plod it out for the rest of the song.

The only real gray area between good and bad on Paradise Lost is the production. It's a huge step away from previous Symphony X recordings, thanks to the fact that they sent the recording far away to get mixed and mastered by someone in Sweden (I forgot the guy's name). I will say that who did mix this album, I enjoyed it. The drums sound less poppy then previous Symphony X albums, the guitar tone is reigned in a bit and the keyboards are pushed out in a way that you can hear them but they are not overpowering everything, and Russell's vocals get the best treatment they've ever gotten to date. I have to say that cleanliness is something that I did desire in previous Symphony X albums (I really wish they would send albums like The Divine Wings of Tragedy or The Damnation Game to this guy for remixing) and while it's very fitting for the darkness and intensity of this album, but after having liked The Odyssey's mixing so much I have to say that I kind of wish they kept it the same here.

Paradise Lost is glorious in some ways, and an omen in others. If you're like me, you cannot help but feel that this is a bit of a sign that Symphony X is on a direction that I don't quite agree with too much. But if you take it for what it is, an intense and powerful and (at the time) long awaited album, then you're going to really enjoy it. Overall I was pleased with the heaviness and overall I was happy with the release, but the nagging feelings in me that this is a band that's starting to take a turn for the worst makes me feel a bit scared. I guess I'll just have to wait till later, but in the meantime I'll just listen to Paradise Lost.

Definitely Worth The Wait - 97%

pinpals, July 10th, 2009

Symphony X's "Paradise Lost" was five years in the making. This was, in part, because of the band's participation on the third stage of the first Gigantour, where they blew every other third stage band away (as well as every second stage band aside from Nevermore) and continually wowed audiences with their complex, yet accessible progressive metal. The other reason is because this album is so damn complex that it's no wonder that there was such a gap between albums.

Probably the most noticeable aspect of this album is that Symphony X have continued the pattern of heaviness set with the previous "The Odyssey." After an excellent computer generated orchestral intro (far better than the cheesy one that begin the title track on the previous album), "Set The World On Fire" kicks things off with furiously heavy guitars courtesy of Michael Romeo and the rough vocals of singer-extraordinaire Russell Allen (that unexpected guitar squeal about 45 seconds in raises the hairs on my arm each time). Also, that part near the end of the song where Allen screams "LIE OF LIES!!!" is one of the best vocal moments in metal. Seriously. Also notable for their heaviness are "Domination," "Serpent's Kiss" and "Seven" (which is the eighth track on the album, how progressive).

Unlike many bands that classify themselves as progressive metal, Symphony X structures each song on a riff or two or five and works their way up. There's no attempts to cover up riff inadequacy with 13/4 time signatures or anything like that. The riffs that Romeo writes are universally strong as well. Many of them are very catchy and yet are deceptive in how tricky they are. There are some comparatively simple chug-chug riffs thrown in and they work surprisingly well as foils for the more complex riffs and serve as a foundation on which the song can develop. Never before have I seen so many sub-genres of heavy metal combined in such an effective manner. Throughout there are elements of prog, classic, neo-classical, speed and yes, even groove metal found throughout, sometimes all in one song. Each strength of the aforementioned sub-genres is capitalized on while the detriments are largely avoided (especially with the groove metal aspect, thankfully). There are even times when the music approaches thrash territory without ever fully crossing over; doing such with any element would only limit the scope and depth of the overall music.

"Paradise Lost" also contains a wide array of types of songs. There are the aforementioned heavy songs, a couple of well-written softer songs and songs that are quite epic, such as the magnificent closer "Revelation," which ends with the same orchestral theme that opened the album. Russell Allen gives one of, if not THE greatest vocal performances in the heavy metal genre throughout the album. He really has evolved from his Dio influence into something truly amazing. He can sing roughly for the heavier songs, passionately for the ballads and everything in between, and never fails to sing with emotion (there were rumors before the album was released that Allen would do death vocals, and I'm sure if he tried, he could do those as well). The lyrical concept that is found throughout the album is based on the poem "Paradise Lost" by John Milton. Many bands would not have been able to pull this off; had this been released eight years ago I wouldn't have even thought Symphony X capable of this feat, but the overall results are positive, far removed from the silly fantasy themes from the early days.

Even though Michael Romeo and Russell Allen are easily the stars of this album, the supporting players give excellent performances as well. I consider Jason Rullo to be an extremely underrated drummer and here he gives a career-defining performance. He handles the tough passages with seeming ease and plays well for the heavy songs as well as the progressive ones. Even on the lighter songs, he is able to give an admirable performance without going too over-the-top and destroying the atmosphere of the song, but without resorting to simplistic rhythms, either. Michael Pinnela does a fine job, as usual, as does Mike LePond, even though his solid bass-playing gets lost in the wall-of-sound production. Speaking of the production, the overall sound of this album is crystal clear, which is admirable considering that aside from all of the members' instruments and the vocals, there are also choirs and orchestrations filling out the sound.

My biggest complaint would be about the packaging, which is a pain to fit in my CD shelf and despite my best efforts, certain parts of the fold-out are bent and damaged. Other than that, it is hard to find criticisms. Even the five years that it took between this album and "The Odyssey" is justified by the contents of "Paradise Lost."

For a while, I was ranking this album just slightly behind Machine Head's "The Blackening" for the best album of 2007, but "Paradise Lost" is so intricate and complex that it only gets better and better with time. This is a landmark achievement for a band that already had an amazing album with "The Odyssey." As is the case with many, if not all great albums, this will not fully sink in until many repeated listens, but it is accessible enough to appeal even on the first listen. Calling this one of the best progressive metal albums would be far too limiting; this is one of the greatest metal albums, period. "Paradise Lost" is mandatory listening for anyone even remotely interested in heavy metal.

Wait! "V" Wasn't the Worst! - 30%

Sean16, June 1st, 2009

What am I complaining about? At least it undoubtedly sounds like Symphony X, questioning this would be dishonest. They haven’t turned mallcore or anything, so dubbing Paradise Lost Symphony X’s St. Anger would be far-fetched. But if “V” could be considered as Symphony X’s Black Album, to which level may we have fallen now? Load? Thomas Miller’s gone for a long time. As years went by Mr Michael Romeo, probably fatter and hungrier than ever, kept on phagocytosing his own band. While The Odyssey already sounded a tad suspect in this respect, with Paradise Lost the damage is explicitly done: all songs but one written by Michael Romeo alone. Sounds like Symphony X, said I? Indeed. But don’t be fooled, it’s not Symphony X, it’s Michael Romeo and his little supporting act.

The worst may be the other bandmembers, who from the beginning had played such an important part in the band’s evolution and composition, just don’t seem to care. The guitar can be outrageously mixed up, drowning every other instrument, the songs can be specially calibrated to emphasize the Ogre’s guitaristic abilities, no one will be concerned about it. Russel Allen will keep on releasing its little hard-rock outputs and losing his voice on countless power-prog supergroups where the number of big names featured is just proportional to the musical mediocrity; Michael Pinnella must be thinking about his next piano opus where, at least, he’ll be heard, Jason Rullo has to eat anyway, and coming to Mike Lepond I wonder if this complete joke of a musician is even able to think. At least the reason of the replacement of the great Miller by this soulless monkey as charismatic as a washed-up oyster has now become obvious: there’s no risk he’ll ever eclipse Michael Romeo.

Now Mr Romeo, where is your integrity? Where is your imagination? Even the concept of this album is recycled. Of course we’ll all happy you find your lyrical themes in Homer or Milton rather than proudly waving your sword slaying dragons and unicorns, but do you remember you’ve already dealt with the whole Fallen Angel story before? No, we know you can’t have forgotten The Divine Wings of Tragedy, as you’ve put this immortal song’s main theme at the very end, in the last thirty seconds of this failed sequel. You fool no one. The only fact The Divine Wings could be mentioned on this abortion should be considered as an insult to one of the greatest moments in metal history. As if it could hide the weak songwriting, empty lyrics and awful digital artwork. Well speaking of the lyrics... the artwork... remember those old Symphony X albums, when the booklet only consisted in a single, poor quality picture of the band, and these so-haunting lyrics on a plain black background? Compare it to the present all-flashing digital puke, to this wannabe-metaphorical logorrhea, then dare come telling me this act hasn’t sold out. Y’know, I once stumbled upon this Cradle of Filth album where they’d put a guy in shorts on the cover – Damnation and a Day was the name of the shit if I remember well. That’s EXACTLY what Mr Romeo’s Paradise Lost is reminding me of.

Of course, the concept isn’t the only thing recycled here. Not really surprising, if you think it twice. Symphony X had three regular, talented songwriters. Has Mr Romeo’s ego grown as big as his body that he seriously thinks he can, alone, write music as strong as when he was collaborating with two other guys as gifted as him? So here you are – obnoxious Pantera riffs all the way when they aren’t borrowed from previous albums, and almost exclusive emphasis on fast, heavy tracks. SUBTLETY? Forget it. What made this band so ahead of every other power-prog act is gone. But it’s heavy! Indeed, it must be Symphony X’s heaviest album to date, plodding and pedestrian as fuck, complete with chugga-chugga guitars and mechanical drumming. Wank wank wank – klunk klunk klunk – rinse and repeat – if you discovered Symphony X with The Odyssey, and thought King of Terrors was a great track, you’ll enjoy it. But it’s fast! Dragonforce is fast as well, I assume you must love Dragonforce. Personally I thought I’d bought a Symphony X album so, naively, I’m waiting for the piano... alright, there’s some on tracks five, nine and ten, if you manage to catch it. The bass? A bit at the beginning of Domination – no wonder, it’s a carbon copy of Sea of Lies, modern-sounding remix – wait, what name did you say? Mike Lepond? Why am I looking for a bass, then?

There’s no need to, actually. Clumsy groovy riffing all the way, pounding drums – I really wonder, did they copy and paste the drumming lines from one song to another – that’s what this album is only about, and headache is near. Hell, it’s still no Panzerdivision Marduk, but you must get the idea. Lured by the name on the cover, the poor listener still keeps on listening, hoping things will get better. 2:30 of disposable programmed orchestral intro won’t turn him away. Then, fast plodding track. Fast plodding track. Fast plodding track. I won’t even detail how an album like Twilight in Olympus alternated straightforward heavy tracks with slow, majestic, melodic numbers; the comparison would just be too painful. Remember, there even was some Beethoven homage on it. Beethoven! Now all along the mind-destroying musical void we’re painfully seeking for the last remnants of, again, the lost subtlety. The opening solo of Eve of Seduction, for instance, which allows to expect something great. There are some hints to the old stuff here, the whole track isn’t a total disgrace, it goes on par with everything they put out on “V” (except Communion and the Oracle of course), which still isn’t saying much. If there were any fillers on Divine Wings, it could have been one of those. At least the album seems to go back on track when – OUCH! These opening three minutes of so-called prog wankery on the next song! Dream Theater, here we are! Wait, did you actually DO a split with Dream Theater? Now I understand.

The semi-ballad, this mandatory Symphony X moment, is another breeze of fresh air. Look, the only track co-written by Pinnella is the best, but I assume it’s a mere coincidence... The melody is borrowed from The Edge of Forever, again if you’ve discovered SX with The Odyssey you won’t notice anyway. It’s no Communion and the Oracle and no Candlelight Fantasia either, Russel Allen is running more and more out of breath those days and the lyrics are better staying unknown (So I've cheated and I've lied / Been the victim of foolish pride / And I've begged and I've crawled/ And I've battle and bled for it all / So I savor the downfall of paradise...), but for once a track here doesn’t sound totally deafening we won’t complain. The closing song also has some interesting moments to offer, half reviving the tradition of Symphony X epics, though at that point the damage will most likely be already done; also, shut down the cretin orchestrations, since the first time you experimented with those on “V” we’ve known there would be nothing good to ever come from there. That was for the “best” here. That’s scarce.

The “worst”... Well, I’ve explained it enough. But I still had to mention the worst of the worst, the worst Symphony X track ever, a hundred times worse than “Egypt” at least. The Sacrifice. Oh, see how this title is well-chosen. A cheesy POWER BALLAD. Symphony X, where are those wonderful ballads you once wrote? The touching, poignant Whispers? The haunting, hopeless Lady of the Snow? I forgot, why should you still care about those when you’ve sold out, when you thought it was easier to rip off Tobias Sammet’s as pompous as pretentious balladic atrocities to back your singer who’s obviously past his prime – I’m almost ashamed to write this, poor Russel – and wasn’t looking for a better opportunity to definitely shit on his legacy? Hell, compared to this nadir the first three tracks and their load of lobotomizing riffs sound like Out of the Ashes. Idiots.

Eventually I won’t say anything about Mr Romeo’s abilities. He’s just one of the best guitarists ever, few people will deny it, and he proves it again on this album. Hey, on a work which is exclusively focused on guitars the first thing we expect is, at least, the guitars to sound good! But did someone ever told you linking technical parts together never did a great song? That if we wanted to hear some nerd endlessly wanking on his guitar we’d had spinned an Yngwie Malmsteen record instead? That, blinded either by money, either by your ego you just killed the band which made you famous, plain and simple? I’m not surprised this album is getting so much praise. That’s fast. That’s heavy. That’s technical. That’s STUPID. STUPID. STUPID. And there are people praising The Great Cold Distance over Dance of December Souls, there are people praising St Anger. There are moments I feel old. Very old.

Highlights: Paradise Lost, Revelation

Paradise indeed lost - 75%

The_Ghoul, August 23rd, 2008

Symphony X have been one of my more preferred bands since I discovered them a while back. Albums like Divine Wings of Tragedy (a fucking classic), V (Not so classic but still good) and Damnation Game (solid power metal) captured my imaginations and even their lesser works like their s/t and Twilight In Olympus were still head and shoulders above the competition.

Paradise Lost falls into the category of one of their lesser works. The performances are solid, and we have a lineup working with all due efficiency, so what's the problem? Well, there's really no problem here. Why did I give it a 75 then? Mike Romeo has run out of creative steam, it seems. The Odyssey suffered similar a similar fate, trading on the glory of past efforts (read: The Accolade II) instead of adding to them. Like its predecessor, Paradise Lost is full of riffs that might appeal to the crowd who like heavy chugging, but have lost all the complexity of past efforts. I'm sorry, but one reason I loved Symphony X was that although they are unabashedly technical and shred like maniacs, they always had an ear for subtlety. The music was always expertly craftly, and although the guitar parts were tricky, they were never vulgar or crude. A lot of the riffs here stomp around like an elephant in a bong shop, destroying all the finer attributes (especially those provided by the always talented Mike Pinella) and reducing the music to a lower level of intelligence.

Plus, I don't know if it's because of age, or laziness, but Sir Russell Allen just doesn't put in the performance we've known him by. He growls reminiscent of David DeFeis and does a bunch of mid-range work, but his range seems to have shrunk significantly, and his tonality has suffered as well. The singing on Paradise Lost could've been done by any aspiring singer in the vein of David DeFeis or Chris Boltendahl. In short, they're atonal and claustrophobic in range.

Otherwise, this is a mostly solid album. While a lot of the complexity and subtlety and beauty is lost, 4/5 members put in solid performances, from bassist Mike LePond (with a mean bass tone) to the exulted Mike Romeo and Mike Pinella, to Jason Rullo, who is an expert drummer and I find nothing wrong with his performances.

Symphony X hit their peak with Divine Wings of Tragedy, and nothing they made after or before can ever get that good. Unfortunately, after V, they've pretty much sunk into a rut, and I hope their next album is better, because I really liked them when they got into their swing. I certainly don't expect another Divine Wings of Tragedy, but at least something to the calibre of V would be appreciated.

A New Kind of Masterpiece - 95%

Hidius, August 7th, 2008

Why do people label this band a Dream Theater clone? I don’t hear it. I didn’t hear it on their older material, and I don’t hear it here. What do I hear? I hear Iron Maiden playing music written by a collaboration between Rainbow and Queensrÿche, sung by a combination of Dio, Tate, Dickenson, and Freddie Mercury, but their separate vocal tracks have been manipulated by a master producer to sound like there’s only one man singing. Throw in the ability to create exquisite tension in the music, as Stratovarius demonstrated on Episode, to add to the darkness and surreality.

In other words, I hear something that I’ve never heard before, nor could I ever hope to hear from anyone else. This music belongs to Symphony X alone, and other bands could actually take a page from their book.

This is way more exciting and fast-paced than anything Dream Theater has written. The compositions are concise and rousing without extending into the realm of boredom or sameness. Every song is unique, the sound they have is unique and somewhat harsh for music this beautiful. There seems to be an edge to their playing here that they’ve never had before. In contrast, Dream Theater’s guitars are usually thick but without a real sharpness to accent it. Much of DT’s music is overblown and requires a high level of patience to be enjoyed as it was meant to. I have that patience, but only at certain times, and even then I find their music taxing. I enjoy instrumental jazz, but sometimes DT gets boring. This album never lets up. From start to finish it’s a flowing, guitar-driven epic that modestly avoids attempts at creating a massive atmosphere. The riffs are there to make it epic. The band doesn’t have to rely on symphonic devices to bloat the music to epic proportions, because they wrote actual music. Don’t let the bombastic intro throw you off.

On Paradise Lost, the lyrics are thoughtful but they don’t lose meaning by becoming too abstract, nor do they slide into sappiness that would induce one to skip songs or switch CDs. Everything on this album is a pleasure to hear, from the soft to the heavy, the title track being one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. It is sad but deals with the tragedy in a strong mature way, without melodrama. The lyrics DT writes are often unbearably trite. It’s not wrong to deal with personal issues in musical writing, but it has to be handled with a mature attitude to be convincing. Paradise Lost achieves this very well, almost so that you don’t know there is a personal element to the lyrics.

Ultimately, the theme is sin. This is not about a man dealing with his problems, nor about society dealing with its problems. This is about how the problems of both individuals and society can combine to lead to the fall of mankind as a whole, and by extension the world as a whole. There is a personal element to such a sweeping global tragedy that cannot be ignored any more than the big picture of it can be ignored. As people collapse inwards upon themselves their relations with others break down, and the world around them disintegrates. It is the ultimate apocalyptic vision, horsemen being unnecessary to create such a situation. Yet, even in the face of all the tragedy the music and the lyrics leave a tiny window of hope open to those who know how to find it. You just have to listen to figure out what it is that leads a person, or people, or the world itself, to such a nexus point. It hides in plain sight, you just have to follow the sparse points of light within the music to get there. They’re almost buried by the darkness of the music, but they are there.

Of course, if you’re just looking for something heavy and metallic, this fulfills your darkest headbanging desires more than anything Symphony X has ever recorded. It’s not as dark as death or black metal, but their past work seems lighthearted compared to this.

Essentially, this is a great album to listen to for fun or for thoughtfulness. You choose. It greatly outshines The Odyssey or the New Mythology Suite. This is on par with their older material, even though the eerie atmosphere is gone and the neoclassical elements are not nearly as prominent. This is something new and unique from Symphony X that should be heard by all metal fans, not just by this band’s fans, old or new, or by DT fans, or by power metal fans. This is prog and power metal synthesized better than anyone else has ever done it, and it is certainly not an imitation of Dream Theater.

The Metal Romanticization of Lucifer, Part 1. - 100%

hells_unicorn, May 11th, 2008

Romanticism has been the preferred medium of artistic expression for the metal album, often featuring the classic, archetype hero in Lucifer. Most original stories conceived for this approach to formatting an opus will often depict a very close variation of the fallen angel as either hero or villain, ranging from a classical poetic depiction, to an unapologetically profane one. Likewise, the music can vary from the most simplistic forms of minimalism to the raging complexity that we’ve come to know from the likes of Michael Romeo and company.

Although many take this for granted, one of the most difficult things to do is create any sort of musical retelling of such a well-known and frequently emulated epic poem as that put forth by John Milton in the 17th century. With it comes the expectations of a faithful lyrical depiction of the prototypical Byronic hero in Lucifer, as well as an inclination towards the romanticist musical approach that is associated with such a grandiose tale. Symphony X has been blessed with already possessing a signature sound that is conducive to this model, but amazingly enough, the results of more than 5 years of toiling strongly suggest that this project has actually forced the band to perfect their craft.

A frequent criticism that has often been levied against this New Jersey Power/Progressive outfit is that they’re too busy impressing their audience with their technical mastership to actually focus on creating memorable music. Although this is often a fair charge to levy at the Progressive scene, Symphony X has done well to keep their sound centered, and on “Paradise Lost” it has truly captured that perfect middle ground between flash and consonance. The odd time sections, elaborate riffs and frequent scale runs still litter their sound, but you’ll find the choruses very easy to sing along with and the melodic hooks quite easy to grab onto.

The music embodies the heart of what the romanticist movement aspired to be: emotionally overpowering and agitated, heavy, and grand. The orchestral arrangement is bombastic, morphing a simple chromatic chord progression into the dramatic overture that is “Oculus Ex Inferni”, and setting the mood for the scorched skies and flaming ground that paint the landscape of the Great War that will soon ensue. And when the first full length number “Set the World on Fire” kicks into full gear, the image of legions of corrupted angels marching before the tentacle steeped, all seeing eye of the devil manifest without the need of a visual aid.

Throughout the album, the vocal performance put forth by Russell Allen is in top form, essentially outclassing all of his previous efforts. Be it his tonal yet vicious shouting assault on “Domination”, his subdued ballad delivery on “Paradise Lost”, or the several middle ground periods on such memorable classics as “Revelation”, he just never strays away from sounding completely on message. There isn’t quite as much elaborate vocal harmonization on here as in past albums, but Allen’s ballsy voice hardly needs overdubs to fill the arrangement out, though they are awesomely realized when they do occur on here.

Naturally the amazing ability of all the instrumentalists in congress on here shouldn’t be overlooked. Romeo and Pinnela put forward a fair share of riveting lead interchanges with Lepond occasionally throwing in a bass display that reminds us what the instrument can do when it is allowed to step out of the shadow of the guitar. If there is one singular song that perfectly articulates the cohesive nature of this outfit, the closing song “Revelation” is your pick. There are so many great ideas jammed into this 9 minute plus epic that at least 6 listens will be required to absorb it all, but that classic Neo-Romantic theme that comes and goes during the chorus will rope you in completely before the first 2 minutes of the first listen have passed.

Newcomers to this band are encouraged to pick this album up as an introduction to the band, because it is the most compact and accessible of their releases. Mainstays of the band will also be taken in by the consistency that this offers in comparison to past works, particularly “Twilight in Olympus”; one of Symphony X's most highly regarded past efforts. And as far as albums to pick up from the deluge of releases in 2007, this is the only new classic to be offered up in the Power/Progressive realm, and as far as I’m concerned is the best album overall in 2007.

Best of 2007? - 94%

BastardHead, February 27th, 2008

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.

Shorter, sweeter, and still kicking ass - 80%

chaxster, November 21st, 2007

I read a chunk of Paradise Lost in college. The part where Satan sits around and mopes for so long that they took away his 'Prince of Darkness' title and gave it to Ozzy. Of course, Ozzy being in his usual semi-coherent state thought it said 'pints of darkness' and tried pawning it off in exchange for some bitter at the local pub. Long story. Anyway, I'm fairly certain that the new Symphony X doesn't have much to do with Milton's epic or the book of Exodus, but it's a catchy title, full of pathos, and also the name of a pretty kickass band, so I can live with it. Plus, it sounds a lot less goofy than something like Divine Wings of Tragedy.

This band has been knocking heads and steadily trudging to the summit of the progressive metal range, and is by now a household name in that realm. You know how Dream Theater incorporates different kinds of genres into their music so that they can be 'tr00ly' progressive? SX (this is a catchy abbreviation - I'm using it from now on) comes at it from a different tack, one I like to call 'Bach at the Moon'; a veritable melding of metal, prog and classical. You know the routine - neoclassical wizardry over manic riffs with occasional flourishes of grandiose orchestral backing. It's fun.

Anyway, their last album, The Odyssey had a tweak thrown in. Apart from the gargantuan title track, most of the other songs were shorter and used more conventional structures. Gunning for more radio play, I guess. More importantly, they'd knocked off a bit of the progressive and added a lot more metal, the new steely edge clearly visible in aggro numbers like 'King of Terrors' and 'Inferno'. Reactions were a bit mixed, but it was still SX enough at the core not to ruffle too many feathers.

From the look of it, the band was well pleased with the changes, since they've dumped the epic feel near entirely this time around. Paradise Lost opens with a brief intro, familiar in its pomposity, and then wastes no time diving into the meaty content - savage guitar lines playing around turbocharged rhythms, Russell Allen's awesomely gritty downtuned vocals (which hovers as close to a growl as possible while maintaining melody) and the frequent singalong choruses. This pretty much sets the pace for the rest of the album, the main distinction between songs being tempo. You have the lightspeed rush of stuff like 'Set the World on Fire' and 'Seven', the mid-paced muscle of 'The Serpent's Kiss' and 'Domination' and the mellow feel of the title track and 'The Sacrifice' (not an Elton John cover, take that fist out of your mouth). There's enough variation to make a start-to-finish listen of the album rewarding, a essential quality in any music that I like to play nowadays.

As far as individual performances go, you no doubt know or have figured out that these are some mighty skilled wankers we're dealing with. There's plenty of opportunity to showcase it without being completely self-indulgent, so it mostly boils down to whether you like gratuitous displays of skill or not. Michael Romeo, for instance - you'd think that by now you'd have become accustomed to those mercurial legato runs, but there's this insane part on the solo for 'Eve of Seduction' where he's doing what sounds like a time trial checkpoint run across the fretboard, and on the descending section, he slows down fractionally while still staying in sync with the backing and then wraps it up with a few lazy bends. Almost like it's boring him a bit. Loco! Russell Allen's harsh vocals are an awesome addition, and he really should have used them throughout the album, excluding the slow songs obviously.

Still, I miss the intricacies and dynamics of long songs like 'The Divine Wings of Tragedy' and 'The Odyssey'. The closest thing we have to that here is 'The Walls of Babylon', and that's not going to cut it. However, friends who'd previously been indifferent to SX seem to have warmed up to this album, so I'm going to have to say they're doing a good job, considering they're earning appreciation from new people while keeping their existing fanbase from being completely estranged.

A Musical Paradise has been found… - 95%

Kalelfromkrypton, November 6th, 2007

Everybody agrees that this last effort is indeed heavier, more rocking and less progressive than their previous releases, which is ok since they evolve and their albums sound different between them. But what makes ‘’Paradise Lost’’ a must buy is the perfect combination of the guitar-drums driven style with the lower harsh vocalization of Russell Allen.

Being those the main focal points of the album what we can say is: what a damn metal album we have! Without any doubt a Metal Feast. But how can we make this statement worthy to anybody? Well, let me tell you this: Although this album, to me, does not top Divine Wings of Tragedy because of many elements they did not use on this one it is hell of a cd to buy without hesitation.

First, this one is more power metal focused: the speed, length of the songs and overall magical/fantastical anime-like concept proofs it instead of the theatrical mood, over composed and ultra technical progressive regular elements of their previous releases. The symphony intro is there, and then we get this metal pleasure with Set the World on Fire where you instantly notice the lower tones in Russell’s vocals, to give a darker/evil feeling to the songs due to the concept and as you can expect we get excellent riffs and progressive tempo changes.

Eve of Seduction is a pure guitar delight and the keyboards set the feeling for this song which in this case adds the atmosphere to the songs, instead of over using them as much power metals do.

So far, my favorite has been The Walls of Babylon; in here we get walls of chorus and a progressiveness that is a desert to our ears and again, this one is guitar driven and we get 7 minutes of pure expertise playing instruments. Seven is more keyboards oriented at fast speed.

Finally we get the album’s closure: Revelation and again, it is not, to me, ‘’The Odyssey’’ or ‘’Divine Wings’’. I mean, those are impossible to top. So with this one we get a powerful song full of feeling, anger, speed, riffs, progressive elements and a metal song worthy of closing an album of these proportions.

In all, we get excellent music, excellent artwork for the booklet enhancing the atmosphere of this journey through the deepest realms of the world and showing one more time, why Symphony X are one of the most beloved bands in the world, and that my friends, is hard to achieve.

They have yet to disappoint - 91%

BloodIronBeer, October 22nd, 2007

Symphony X has long been among my very favorite bands. The unparalleled riff making and godly guitar wizardry of Micheal Romeo, the huge, powerful voice of Russel Allen, the intricately worked skills of Jason Rullo, the finesse of Micheal Pinnella all delivered in a unique progressive, sometimes power metal, sometimes neo-classical package. Personally, I've always enjoyed how this band always focused on song writing before playing, despite all their talent. They've had the same approach to writing for all these years, and it still works.

For the majority of fans, it's needless to say, this wait has been a long one. Five years after the masterpeice The Odyssey, expectations might differ. I personally tried not to have any. I realize a lot of people are saying they're disapointed with this album, and it's clear to see that it's because people honestly are foolish enough to have expectations of this being the supreme magnus opus, the be all, end all of progressive metal. To even think that it would surpass The Odyssey just leaves you up to be let down, because it's highly unlikely that it'll be surpassed. Five years after a masterpiece, people surely had all kinds of things kicking around in their minds about what this album would be, and that's what leads them to disappointment. How any Symphony X fan can take these songs for what they are, and not like them, is beyond me.

This is the band's darkest, most straight-forward and most power metal album. The riffs are more heavily thrash influenced, and the attitude is more sinister than in the past. Russell's vocals reflect this new darker attitude as well, and he shows that he can hold the lower range just as keenly as the upper range. This is easily one of his best performances.

Another complaint about the album is that it's simply more of the same. Though, I can't completely agree, I can defend this in saying that Symphony X has one of the most distinct sounds in metal. No one sounds like them, and thankfully, no one even tries. Yes, they have a certain way of writing, and yes, they stick to it. Personally, I think it has yet to get stale, and the new darker approach is helping in keeping things fresh.

From the apocolyptic opener Oculus Ex Inferni, to the grooving Serpent's Kiss, to the insatiably catchy Eve of Seduction, to the power metal grand opus Revelation, this album is a winner on all levels.

My least favorite track, curiously enough, is the title track. It is the one song which I agree with the critics about the band repeating themselves. This song sounds much too much like the Accolade or Communion and the Oracle.

In the end, sure it's still a bit overproduced, and it's not the groundbreaker The Odyssey was, but this album is another work to be devoured by fans, and it managed to change just enough to possibly invite new fans as well.

Magnificent - 100%

Sargon_The_Terrible, October 14th, 2007

The magical seventh album by the best prog band in the US proves the charm, as they put together all the elements of their sound in a powerful, alchemical synthesis to create their best album. Every Symphony X fan has their own personal favorite album, and many will hold that The New Mythology Suite or The Odyssey are their high points, but for me, I think Paradise Lost is their best work. This band has just never sounded as tight or as focused as they do here.

Symphony X have ditched a lot of the sprawling stigmata of prog with this album, going for a more unified sound. Not that there are no insane lead breaks, keyboard dialogues, or bizarre time shifts on this album - there certainly are, but this time they are all solidly lashed to really good songs. What we have here is the sound of a band who no longer feel the urge to show off as intensively as they did before. The music in Paradise Lost is just as complex as any on previous albums, but the complexity is more subtle, and you only notice a lot of it if you pay attention. Those addicted to high-wire, over-the-top musical wankering may be a bit let down, but those of us who like real music will find this album an intensely satisfying musical experience. Tracks like "Set The World On Fire", "The Serpent's Kiss", and the beautiful title track successfully combine technical richness with memorable melodies to make prog you can sing along to. The songs are all enjoyable on the surface for their heaviness and hooks, but also reward closer listening with layers of technique and depth unknown to most bands. The performances are of course amazing, and Russel Allen can do no wrong, digging here into a harder, more aggressive style.

Some have criticized this album as being a simplified or watered-down version of Symphony X, but those people are not listening closely enough. Paradise Lost is every bit as prog as any of the band's older albums, but this time around they have subordinated showboating to composition, resulting in a leaner, meaner sound. This is easily Symphony X' heaviest outing, but also, I think, their most consistently great one. A real contender for the best of 2007. Not to be missed.

Originally written for

Heavier and Better - 90%

GuntherTheUndying, August 21st, 2007

Symphony X began standing out from the generic progressive metal field a few years back with “The Divine Wings of Tragedy,” in which the esoteric group accomplished a landmark in their evolution as a band. And twelve years after the group reached their first milestone, Symphony X returned with the classic “Paradise Lost” to further their sound even more. With evolution on their side, Symphony X drives an epic stash of golden progressive metal through the boundaries of what music tells them to be, but the squad still manages to remain deeply original and surprisingly fun with "Paradise Lost."

So what makes “Paradise Lost” so special? For one, they’ve added a boatload of heavier elements and have established an independent front with Michael Romeo’s riffing leading the pack. Romeo’s riffing show has evolved into a relentless performance of hammering grooves, turbo-charged licks, and some of his best solos to date. Also, Jason Rullo is finally allowed to show off his total ability as the charismatic drummer dishes out crazy fills and terrific percussion coordination involving technical patterns and lots of double bass. It’s heavier, faster, riskier, and better than anything Symphony X has ever done before.

Symphony X has always demonstrated they were an evolving act that changed with each and every release; “Paradise Lost” is no exception to this overt hypothesis. The most obvious change occurred with Russell Allen’s vocals, in which the powerful singer exercises a deep alteration between his beautiful singing style and newly-acquired harsh barks. He also does a fantastic job matching the tone of Romeo’s riffs, whether it’s high vocals walking hand-in-hand with blazing riffing, or an aggressive-toned picnic with some groovy mid-paced chops. The group’s overall song writing structure is set on a heavy-built base of fast and power riffing with shreds of progressive atmosphere lying throughout the choruses of each song. Also, the album’s ballads are huge examples of improvement compared to Symphony X’s previous soft material, which leads to a comfortable transition between heaviness and beauty. This isn’t some low-rate performance, because Symphony X is still breaking musical barriers while keeping their basic roots in sight.

Several progressive metal bands have forged great records, but few releases can match the power and creativity of “Paradise Lost.” Everything that merits an epic label is alive and well, and it’s safe to say our American buddies made sure they produced quality music; it did take five years, but it was definitely worth the wait. “Paradise Lost” is certainly the best Symphony X record since “Twilight In Olympus”, and an essential grab for prog fans and metalheads alike.

Solid yet catchy - 92%

invaded, July 11th, 2007

With their first album in 5 years, Symphony-X had no choice but to go all out. And that is exactly what they did for Paradise Lost. They have taken some influences from the past five years and have added that Symphony-X flavor to it.

The result is a much more ballsy and rocking tone, with Russ Allen supplying darker and shall we say harsher vocals than he ever has. However to counterpoint that some of these songs have the catchiest choruses I've ever heard this band perform. The opener "Set the World on Fire" supplies you with a very modern tone, a sound I would actually attribute more to Dimmu Borgir's sound, however with that comes a very power metal sounding chorus that just sticks in your head. "Domination" is another standout track, with a very rocking chorus. Other standouts are the ballad and title track "Paradise Lost" and the very cool "Seven"(which is actually track 8, come on guys!).

As previously mentioned, Russ Allen pulls out all the stops, going from a gruff and raspy low tone to a full on falsetto on "Walls of Babylon". Michael Romeo is absolutely on top of his game. The riffs are heavy, his tone is awesome and the leads are absolutely mind-blowing, especially on "Eve of Seduction" which has one of the fastest legato licks I have ever heard. What I like about Romeo is that despite the fact that he is a world class shredder and virtuoso, he hasn't made Sym X a vehicle for him to shred, but rather a full on band where everyone can shine, respect for that.

Jason Rullo delivers his best performance to date. He keeps things fresh and interesting, especially with the bass drums, opting to switch things up as opposed to the constant double bass drumming we're used to hearing. This guy has to deal with some swift tempo changes and pulls it off beautifully. Besides Atheist's Steve Flynn, I would consider this guy to be one of my favorite drummers.

So basically Symphony-X pull out another gem. The songwriting is top notch, I already mentioned the playing. If you're a Symphony-X fan, you will undoubtedly enjoy this one, and if you thought they were too flowery before, this just might get you to make the switch.

Paradise...Not Lost - 86%

darkreif, June 25th, 2007

Paradise Lost finds Symphony X moving towards a darker and edgier sound. And as far as I'm concerned - this couldn't be better news. Even though Symphony X is an amazing band with some of the most talented musicians in the metal scene (music in general really) their material never really struck a chord with me. Until now. Paradise Lost's slightly darker tone really caught my ear. Now, it's not darker as in they have changed their sound a whole lot. But in a general feeling from the album there is a darker tone and a little bit harsher writing style to the music. They are still a progressive power metal band and that will probably never change.

The guitars are a wonderful combination of Dream Theater's complexity and Gamma Ray's aggressive power metal - not all that original but its a damn good combination. There is great variety in the guitar work too. From melodic sections with acoustic playing to power chords to heavy triplet riffs - Paradise Lost has it all. Even the solos and leads are quite a bit diverse. All of the solos are expertly played (along with the rest of the guitar work on the album) and very emotive. The times when the guitars do a little dueling work are some of the best moments on the album.

The bass and drum work is also expertly played and written. The bass isn't afraid to separate itself from it's rhythm section or the guitar work and it does it's own thing quite often to the enjoyment of most progressive fans. Although the bass is still mixed a little quiet at times, there is quite a bit of bass work that can be heard in middle of songs. The drums are also more progressive than most "power" metal - there is lots of variety to spare drum wise. Granted, I've heard better drumming on Symphony X records.

The keyboards are a prominent feature to the music in the beginning of the album but as the album plays they seem to fade out a tad bit. The keyboards play more of a support role for the music on Paradise Lost rather than the major role they have played before for Symphony X.

The vocals remind me a lot of Grave Digger (except SO MUCH better). He has a harsher tone to his vocals that could even work for thrash metal, but still can throw out a soaring note that brings the band straight back into power metal. This wide range gives me a wide array of styles to choose from and he picks great styles for specific songs and sections that fit the music very well.

Like many of the reviews I have read online, this is an amazing album that has one large flaw. Originality. Although darker and slightly edgier, Paradise Lost sounds a lot like much of the Symphony X before it. Rather than chastise the album for being too much like their previous albums, some people need to realize that sometimes consistency is a blessing and with Symphony X this "same sound syndrome" doesn't hurt the album all that much. It's still a very solid album through and through and my favorite to date.

Songs to check out: Domination, Paradise Lost, Revelation.

Absolutely world class! - 96%

Empyreal, June 3rd, 2007

Symphony X? Meh. Not a band I've been that into, especially when there were ones like Kamelot and Pagan's Mind that caught my attention much more than they did. Sure, they were always good, technical, and heavy, but they just didn't do that much for me before, aside from the odd song here and there. 2002's The Odyssey was a very good album, no doubt, with flawless production and musicianship, and both heavy material and more balladesque songs to satisfy all of their fans, no matter which type of song you liked. But no, this band didn't set me on fire until 2007's Paradise Lost. I haven't heard the band's entire catalogue, but I'm going to take a leap and say this is the best the band has ever been.

For a few years now, Symphony X has been known as a prog band that still managed to write catchy, accessible songs while being complex and...well, progressive. Aside from a few lengthly epics, they've always written shorter, condensed, and more memorable songs than most other bands of their ilk have been pumping out. And they certainly continue that trend on this album, with catchy choruses and riffs that don't stop the songs from being the prog metal monoliths that they are. There are no needless prog wankery sessions and nothing that makes you want to fall asleep. The musicians aren't showing off, they're just out to make some fucking kickass heavy metal, and sure enough, Paradise Lost is much heavier than anything the band has ever done, even setting aside some melody for a heavy, grooving sensibility that really strengthens these songs ("Domination" bears some resemblances to Pantera, even...but this is still Symphony X, don't worry). They've never gone for the throat like this, nor have they ever been so aggressive and angry.

Let me speak a bit about the musicians here. "Sir" Russell Allen is a magnificant singer and probably one of the best in the genre. He has a rough, gritty, charistmatic tone that sets him apart from the Geddy Lee and Geoff Tate wannabes, a bit remniscent of Ronnie James Dio at some parts here, but far more aggressive. His range is just phenomenal. Michael Romeo has fine-tuned his guitar wizardry even further, and his riffs and solos are packed with a much larger punch than ever before, and are quite remniscent of Victor Smolski's work with Rage (albeit Romeo's solos are obviously more neoclassically tinged). Jason Rullo on drums provides an exceptional backbone for the album, backing up each song with class and style not seen in many other bands today. And the classically tinged keyboards are merged seamlessly with the heavy riffs, making this an exercise in master-class songwriting. Both beautiful and aggressive. Both hard-hitting and tender. Masterful.

This is a concept album, around Milton's Paradise Lost (and I'll be checking out the story sometime soon), and it's rather hard to pick standouts. "Set the World on Fire (The Lie of Lies)" is a killer song that pretty much sums up modern day Symphony X as well as you possibly can, and it's instantly catchy and gratifying. "Seven" has a monster riff that I'll never get tired of, along with some great neoclassical shredding throughout the full 7 minutes of the song. "The Walls of Babylon" is an 8 minute epic with choir chanting and a great chorus, quite in the mold of their older work, except with the heavy riff sensibility of their new sound to boot! And the closer "Revelation (Divus Pennae ex Tragoedia)" is this album's answer to the title track of the previous album, although not nearly as long winded. It's got lots of classical influences and is quite a song, certainly one of the best on the album.

There are a few flaws. For instance, the ballads here are an obvious weak point. Symphony X has always written amazing ballads, and songs such as "Awakenings" or "Candlelight Fantasia" would most likely warm the hearts of even the most staunch metallers out there. But here they seem to have slipped a bit, gotten caught up in their heavier style of songwriting, and it shows. The title track and "The Sacrifice" are the ballads here, and while not terrible, they're certainly the most mediocre songs on the disc. Russel Allen's voice seems to have gotten too rough and he seems to have trouble crooning on these like he did on the ballads of the past. Just a minor complaint, though, the ballads are not that terrible.

This is certainly a great album, and it seems that the people who enjoy it the most are those who were not so heavily into this band before now (like myself). So, give this one a chance, it's amazingly well executed US progressive/power metal in the modern European vibe. Highly recommended, one of the best of 07 so far.