I’d like to start this review in a different manner than my usual style: I’m one of those people that believe reviews are intended to inform, and in doing so, to be as objective as possible. It seems that some people “vote” on reviews based on the fact that they either “agree” or “disagree” with the reviewer’s comments: to those people, I would like to say that such a practice is damaging: try to keep in mind that most reviewers are intended to influence you into either buying or passing up on the item being reviewed, by attempting to publish facts and descriptives about the said item.On the other hand, I would like to thank the majority of you that I’ve read and voted on, particularly for introducing me to Symphony X, and influencing me into buying their 5 albums “in one shot”. This review is dedicated to you. I’m not trying to be “popular”, I’m simply trying to do my part in returning the favor to the readers.I’ve been “collecting” music since 1974, and every few years, I get seriously impressed by some “unorthodox” release. I’m not into “mainstream” music, and “metal” has always been my favorite genre (and I’m 42!), as long as it demonstrates talent, originality, and a sense of musicality that is often absent in the genre.I’m a “tough critic”, and giving 5 stars to any album is an extremely rare occurence. Rarely do albums blow me away, but such was the case for me when I first listened to the following: in 1977, it was Rush’s “2112″; in 1982, Iron Maiden’s “The Number Of The Beast”; in 1984, Yngwie Malmsteen’s “Rising Force”; in 1986, Vinnie Moore’s “Mind’s Eye”; in 1992, Dream Theatre’s “Images And Words”; in 1995, Shadow Gallery’s “Carved In Stone”; in 2001, thanks to some reviewers at Amazon.com, the group Symphony X, even though they’ve released their first album back in 1995.And now, enough of my ramblings, and into my real review:Made in USA in 2000, Serial# 3984-14344-2, Playing Time 62:48This 5th release is their most ambitious effort, a suite in 13 parts. The music is fairly more subdued than usual, and the complicity of guitarist Romeo and keyboardist Pinnella is more apparent than before as many passages have their performance more intertwined than on previous albums.A more thematic and “symphonic” approach has been used, and generally works very well. The usual tempo changes are still here, so is the polish of the production; what makes this release somewhat different from their previous albums is the maturity of the arrangements: not quite as “wild” and solo-centered. The vocals arrangements are also more diversified and versatile. A genuine epic with a lot more atmosphere.To those of you who have never heard this group, I believe that listening to some sound samples doesn’t do justice to their art: it will give you some idea of their energetic and rich sound textures, but you’ll miss out on the progression contained in each of their tracks. It’s the kind of music that takes you into a sonic journey.Have faith in those of us who have bought their albums: we’re not closed-minded about the other bands, we’re just saying that Symphony X is one of the best things to come out in the metal-fusion-progressive genre. However, if you decide to take the plunge as I have, I recommend that you play their albums in their release sequence: either start at the beginning (“Symphony X”, which is almost out-of-control), or at the end (“V”, which is the tamest”).Now what am I going to do when this band releases their 6th album: my CD player only has room for 5 discs???