After a very long 5 year wait, Symphony X have finally put out their latest opus: Paradise Lost. They have truly delivered the goods on this album which will certainly rank as their darkest and heaviest to date. The overall sound of the album draws from their previous releases of V The New Mythology Suite and The Odyssey, however this album is more metal and dare I say evil than those. Frontman Russell Allen's vocals seem to get more brutal with each release and here they are quite gritty and fierce indeed. Michael Romeo's fantastic and pyrotechnic guitar work is what really shines and drives the album. Michael Pinella, a genius on the keyboards, provides the distinctive and unmistakeable Symphony X sound to the music. Michael Lepond and Jason Rullo provide their usual exellent but not over-the-top bass and drum work respectively. All in all, there is nothing really new or innovative on Paradise Lost with the band sticking very closely to their signature sound but they seem to have brought their sound to a harder, heavier, yet still melodic level.
I) Oculus Ex Inferni
An instrumental intro piece. A mix of classical choir type vocals, reminiscent of Verdi's Requiem, with metal elements. It serves as an excellent mood and atmosphere setter for what is to come later. It transitions very fluidly into the first real track.
II) Set The World On Fire (The Lie of Lies)
Great intro with some fast guitar work with subtle background keyboards. Very catchy chorus. Fast, hard, heavy, and unmistakably Symphony X! I really like the music in this one
A short bass intro then the song really kicks into high gear with the guitar. Wow! The vocals here are very heavy and brutal on this one making it sound evil. Very nice instrumental section.
A bit slower that the previous 2 tracks yet heavy nonetheless. Russell Allen shows he can sing in very different styles on this track. While this song is enjoyable, it seems to be going in too many directions.
If you are a fan of Communion And The Oracle, this song will delight you! Nice song to put the brakes on the fast furious pace set by the previous tracks. Soothing vocals. Catchiest chorus of the album. Very melodic with lots of piano.
VI)Eve of Seduction
After being lulled into a bit of mellowness by the previous track, this one returns to the fast and furious overall pace of the album. This a short hard rocker that leaves one wishing it were longer. Almost Dio sounding at times.
VII)The Walls of Babylon
The best intro of the album! The intro consisting of almost 3 1/2 minutes of bombastic heavy guitar riffing with some subtle choir type stuff going on in the background provides an ethereal feel to this one. Once the vocals begin they cover the whole range here from griity fierce growls from the bowels to melodic high notes. Chorus is choir like.
Fast, very power-metalish yet proggy. Lyrics are very metaphorical.
Ballad. Weakpoint of the album in my opinion. It just seems to plod along without any excitement. The nice guitar solo does save it from being a complete failure.
X)Revelation (Divus Pennae Ex Tragoedia)
Very proggy in that it contains many different musical elements. It has sort of an epic feel to it though it is shorter than some of their true epic songs. Great instrumental section! While the lyrics may be just a bit cheesy, musically this song contains a bit of everything that is great about Symphony X making it a good closer to the album. It is not quite as strong a closer as they have had on other albums, however. The throwback to Divine Wings Of Tragedy in the outro is sweet!
In summary, if you like Symphony X, you will like this one but just be prepared for the harshness and fierceness in the vocals. Actually they just help provide the evil atmosphere I believe the album is trying to convey. I would not recommend this as a first album of Symphony X to anyone. For that, I would choose V The New Mythology Suite.
I will give this album a 9/10