Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

Legendary progressive metal !!! - 100%

Livingwave17, October 20th, 2017

Some musicians become icons. There is always a band that starts a new genre or brings an idea that many come to follow afterwards. Such bands are Metallica, Black Sabbath or Dream Theater. Heavy metal was born with Black Sabbath, thrash metal was born with Metallica and progressive metal was born Dream Theater. And most of the times you will see so many new bands that copy these giants of innovation. Whenever a new idea comes along, so many people will follow it. And here a problem appears. People will become used to judging any similarity between bands as an act of stealing an idea. And despite being an original, creative group, one band can get lost in the crowd of copycats because of a few similarities. Symphony X is one of these bands. And their problem is Dream Theater. There are lots of instrumental elements that these bands have in common, but despite that, Symphony X is an original and expressive band with so much to offer. They are legends in progressive music and I cannot explain to myself why there are so many accusations from people that tag this band as another copy. And the simple point that I am trying to make is that I have never in my life encountered a band like Symphony X.

There are so many things that make this band amazing, from the incredible skills and technique, to the beautiful harmonies of every song, this band is mind-blowing, and their New Mythology is probably their best album so far. On this record the geniuses show us everything that makes them so amazing. Let's just take them one by one.

Michael Romeo is the guitarist and the main creative mind in Symphony X. He writes almost all the music and lyrics and ultimately gives the band it's distinct identity. His guitar style can be associated with many, and despite being most often compared to John Petrucci, I find his soloing style to be closer to Yngwie Malmsteen. Yet Romeo has more to show us. The riffs are progressive to the bone, many times more complicated than the ones of Petrucci, while the neoclassic style solos are more melodic and various than both Petrucci and Malmsteen. Dream Theater and Malmsteen both bring incredibly fast shredding guitars but they both have distinct personalities, and despite what you might hear, so does Symphony X. If you ask me, Michael Romeo is the king of progressive metal guitar. He is the most creative, imaginative and innovative guitarist that I have ever come across and the music shows it. And his work on this album makes no exception. The tight crystal clear shreds are scattered across the album, alternating with awesome, balanced riffs and pure, soft clean sections with soothing harmonies. There is nothing missing on this album guitar wise. And you can say Michael Romeo is where neoclassical meets prog. Yet the guitars alone do not culminate in all the instrumental performance on the album. There is only one guitar in the band so you need a hell of a bassist and drummer to keep the grooves going all the time. Despite having recorded rhythm guitars on the albums, in live performances, Michael Romeo is still just one, and while he shreds away, you need that amazing bass and drum section to keep a steady pace for the music not to fall apart. The live performances of Symphony X are as good as life gets and they have a killer sound as well.

Another important instrumental highlight of this album is that wonderful keyboard work by Michael Pinella. In terms of soloing, Pinella is Romeo's baby brother, chipping in with his own perfect shreds and harmonies. And it's literally chipping in for they share the duty of shredding and you will see tons of keyboard guitar duels, kind of like Malmsteen and Johansson have on Yngwie's Odyssey. But this time, it's on top of progressive metal riffs. How cool is that?

But Pinella has more to show than the solos. When he's not soloing, his instrument creates the soft background harmony under a storm of progressive riffs. But it is the clean sections where the keyboards really shine through. Especially on this album, there are lots of clean guitar and keyboard sections that really touch your soul. And it is the keys that make these bits so special. Lots of beautiful harmonies with baroque style voicing prove Pinella's skill, and he sometimes sounds like a one man band. Mike Pinella is the best keyboard player in metal by all my standards.

One way to see what the instrumentals mean is to check out some instrumental songs on the album. Check "On the Breath of Poseidon" to see some really cool keyboard harmonies and see what it's all about. But the song that best proves my point is "The Death of Balance". There are no shreds on this song but it shows an amazingly complex rhythm structure alongside those soothing harmonies. It perfectly shows that despite being the best in virtuosity, Symphony X are so much more, mastering music theory and creativity.

But of course, there can be only one to bring all that power to the album and really run streams of energy through your heart. Russell Allen is one of the best voices in metal and he takes Symphony X to a level that simply cannot be matched. As a centerpiece to an amazing album, Russel's voice brings a lot of emotion and drama and he has a very unique way of interpreting the lyrics his own way, and really reaching out to the listener. He has variety reaching raging peaks of power and also soul shaking bits on the slow parts. Another thing to be mentioned about Russel is that he doesn't mind treating his voice like an instrument, and you will find lots of voices similar to what Michael Pinella does on the keys, as well as some choirs recorded only in his voice. Especially on the last song there is a section where Russell alternates such a choir section with a single voice creating a musical dialogue with himself.

And that pretty much sums up what Symphony X offers on this album musically, but after you have finished taking in all that genius, there is another aspect to attend, and that is the amazing concept behind this record. You could say that it is about Egyptian mythology, about Atlantis and about astrology, but that wouldn't make so much sense. What really blends these ideas together is how they are reflected in today's world.

This album is about the here & now, and the comparison to ancient Egypt and Atlantis comes to prove what is wrong in humanity's ways. And some Latin lyrics here and there add that extra touch of mystery that the concept needed. To get the concept take a look at the lyrics on the last two songs. The Pharaohs of ancient Egypt are compared to our leaders today. They are "modern day Children of the Sun". The pharaohs were the first to control and manipulate an entire population, and today, politicians do the same. Only appearance has changed. And the comparison to Atlantis comes to show consequences to one's action, and as Russel says "Oh shall it be as it was before" or "A voice from the past echoes the fate" he explains that a destiny similar to Atlantis awaits if we do not change our ways. And this is not just about our leaders. It's about us, the sheep that blindly follow. We feel comfortable believing everything that is said to us because we want to believe that everything will be fine. As the lyrics say we are "Fools who look for answers in a rhyme/ seeking out a lie, an illusion". The final idea that ends this album is simple "Can we change?".

With this release, probably the best in Symphony X's history, these legends come to give us everything that defines them. An amazing metaphorical concept transmitted via true powerful and original music. Just take the time to consciously listen to this album once, and if you are in anyway familiarized with metal music, it will blow your mind.