THE BAND: Russell Allen (vocals), Michael Romeo (guitars), Michael Lepond (bass), Michael Pinnella (keyboards), Jason Rullo (drums & percussion).
THE DISC: (2007) 10 tracks clocking in at approximately 61 minutes. Included with the disc is a 14-page booklet containing song titles/credits, band photos, thank you’s, and several pages of fantasy artwork dealing with dark landscapes, both good and evil. The tri-fold case is a made of cardboard that opens upward and out, verses left to right. All music written by Romeo (except “Paradise Lost” by Romeo and Pinnella). All lyrics written by Romeo and Russell. Label – InsideOut Music.
COMMENTS: Symphony X continues to shred. The same line-up is still in tact that gave us “The Odyssey” (2002) and “V” (2000)… a huge bonus in this day and age where keeping a band in tact over the years is proving to be a tough thing to do. From the outside looking in, the band’s chemistry shines – they seem to know what they want, how each other plays and their capabilities, and the direction they want to go… everyone’s on the same page. Symphony X continues to be huge in Europe, but has somehow still avoided mainstream success (unlike their progressive rock peers Dream Theater). Perhaps that’s the draw for me – supporting the underdogs and spreading the word about such talented bands worthy of audible praise in the world of rock and metal. I had to give “Paradise Lost” several weeks to listen and absorb what was there. First though, I had to get past the thin lame cardboard case – with two of the foldouts looking like flames or fingers intertwined that pop out at you like a 3-D book you had as a kid. Over the years I can only imagine these foldouts getting ripped/bent/frayed by lots of disc use. To me, this is a terrible packaging job. As for the music, it’s superb as expected… it’s right on par with each of their last 2 albums… though “V” is still my favorite followed by the older “Divine Wings Of Tragedy” – “Paradise Lost” will still sit on the same lofty perch. Romeo continues to be the brainchild of the band… having the major hand in writing all the music, as well as sharing the lyric duties. Part of me wishes this was more of a group effort. The musicianship is unsurpassed… I put Romeo & Co on that same lofty stage as Dream Theater and Kamelot… each band member is a wizard at their instrument(s). The album starts with a 2-and-a-half minute instrumental “Oculus Ex Inferni” – exciting to the hilt – up and down moments with evil chants in the background that would fit nicely in the recent re-make of “The Omen”. The first song featuring Allen’s vocals is “Set The World On Fire”… this song, as well as others that followed left me puzzled. I’ve always be drawn to Allen’s wonderfully silky smooth vocals. But on most of “Paradise Lost” he seems downright belligerent – more attitude, growl and gruffness in his voice (at times he comes off sounding like a heated Ronnie James Dio). I think though, that’s the tone of the album – like good and evil are battling it out, and the end of the world is a distinct reality. You certainly get that idea from the lyrics and artwork within the album. So as much as I miss his smooth vocals on albums past, the roughness in his voice fits “Paradise Lost”. The title track is by far the mellowest on the album. Lots of nice piano and keyboard moments as you might expect with Pinnella having a hand in the writing (reminds me of one of my favorite tracks of theirs – “Communion & The Oracle” from “V”). The album closes with the longest song (just over 9 minutes), and it’s perhaps the most varied on the disc. “Revelation” rocks for nearly 6 minutes, followed by a soft interlude, then back to a heavy finish. It’s complete with keyboard solos that would make Keith Emerson proud. Sit back and let “Paradise Lost” spins several times before judging. Perhaps not Symphony X’s best album (ultimately a tough decision because the band has several brilliant albums), but still an amazing piece of work (5 stars).