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Masterpiece of Mythological Magnitude - 100%

CireX, September 30th, 2015

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

V: The New Mythology Suite was my first introduction to Symphony X's discography and I must say that at the time, their music was well beyond my experience. Upon the initial listen, I thought the music to be tightly performed and written, but with little memorable stand-out songs and / or sections. I was wrong. Like with most of the band's records, I became increasingly more addicted with each and every repeat listen and soon would have various parts of the music spontaneously stuck in my head at seemingly random intervals. Once I had finally digested the album, more or less, I considered V: The New Mythology Suite to be the best record that I had ever heard. It only took me approximately twenty or more listens to get there!

I suppose that it should be noted that V: The New Mythology Suite is a concept album dealing with the story of Atlantis, ancient Egyptian mythology and astrology as well.

The record kicks off with an adaptation of the classical work "Messa da Requiem (Dies Irae)" by Giuseppe Verdi before transitioning seamlessly into the band`s own original compositions. All of the instruments including vocals, guitars, keyboards, bass guitar and drums all play a major role in contributing to the complete sound of this record. Other classical excerpts are expertly woven into the music throughout the album's duration such as Béla Bartok’s "Concerto for Orchestra (Finale)" as well as "Concerto for Harpsichord in D minor - BWV 1052" by Johann Sebastian Bach for instance. There is a relatively large number of instrumental tracks and sections here, lending itself well to a soundtrack-type quality about the album. However, when vocals do appear, they are utilized in such a way as an instrument as well, delivering beautiful melodies and painting the perfect finishing touches for the sound-scape. Such complex, richly layered and lush music is indeed rare.

Now for such an instrumentally-driven album, how well do the musicians perform, you ask? I believe one word provides the most suitable answer: unparalleled. Michael Romeo's guitar playing is fast, technical and clean, but also tasteful, melodic and multi-faceted. Often you will be aurally assaulted by impossibly intricate guitar-work, yet Romeo does not shy away from relatively simple rhythm and / or lead when the music calls for it. Also of note is the tone of his guitar which is highly distinguishable from the plethora of other shredders. Indeed, I have yet to hear another guitarist of his caliber to date. Michael Pinnella's keyboards supply a significant portion of the overall sound, with much in the way of piano, organ and stringed-instrument synthesizer contributing multiple melodies and layers to the music. His extraordinary technique is displayed throughout the record, particularly during his fantastic keyboard solos, which are usually utilized in a trade-off with Romeo's lead guitar. Jason Rullo makes a spectacular return on drums after his absence on Twilight in Olympus and delivers one of the finest drum performances in the history of music. The level of technique, precision and musicality of his playing is truly phenomenal. New on bass guitar is Michael Lepond, who replaced long-time band member Thomas Miller. He is a worthy successor and an incredible bassist, capable of playing the most challenging basslines with cleanliness that is generally unheard of. His tone is quite distinct as well, providing Symphony X with a new, fresh flavor to their music when compared with their previous works. The final member of the band, Russell Allen, is also a master of his instrument: the voice. His vocal performance is only rivaled by those of other Symphony X albums. Just listen to Allen's sublime range, tone and power as heard on "A Fool's Paradise" as well as his inconceivably versatile voice as showcased on "Rediscovery (Part II) : The New Mythology" and I am sure that you'll agree.

The songwriting is superb. Shorter, intense tracks maintain energy (and short attention spans) such as "Evolution (The Grand Design)" and "Absence of Light". Atmospheric music can be heard with such songs as "Fallen" and "Egypt" as well as the numerous instrumentals throughout the record's duration. The softer side of Symphony X is excellently explored with "Communion and the Oracle". Furthermore, "Rediscovery (Part II) : The New Mythology" is a tour de force, representing all of the various aspects of Symphony X's music in a single composition.

All of this is bolstered by perfect production quality where each and every instrument and vocal line cuts through the mix with perfect clarity.

To conclude, Symphony X has produced a masterpiece of music with their fifth studio album V: The New Mythology Suite and continue to strengthen their reputation as one of, if not the greatest band of all time.