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V: The New Mythology Suite

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  • Symphony X, no doubt disturbed by the consistency of fans saying, “That was good, but nowhere near as good as Divine Wings of Tragedy,” felt they had something to prove with this release. And prove something they did.The album opens with “Prelude,” an operatic thrust of vocals accompanied by a Wagnerian “in your face” symphony line. Are those actually keyboards I hear…sounds like the London Symphony Orchestra. And can that full choir be but one man? The drums on this track are a sign of things to come–Jason Rullo is not merely a drummer, he is a true percussionist. Simply amazing!Secondly, comes the speed-metal, neo-classical masterpiece “Evolution-The Grand Design.” This cut is very melodic. It sounds very much akin to the chords heard on “Divine Wings,” but much more refined. Russell Allen no longer sounds like Dio, the beauty and range of his voice are a definite focal point in this and later songs. The third song, “Fallen,” begins with keyboards reminiscent of “Damnation Game” and follows with a clear base line and the entry of drums and Michael Romeo’s haunting guitars. The interplay between the keyboards and guitar is very intricate here, and the beautiful yet dark solo at the end of the song is awe-inspiring. Slowly Allen’s voice comes back and the music returns to the original theme.”Transcendence” sounds like something that could have been composed by John Williams, if he were still composing good theatrical music. Seriously, it sounds like it could be lengthened into a full theatrical soundtrack. How this band is able to get that much sound out of their instruments one may never know. It provides the perfect interlude and flawlessly meshes with the following song.”Communion and the Oracle” begins with acoustic guitar and soft keyboard interplay. Then the base line comes in and the guitars and piano begin a pop sound. Suddenly the piano is contrasted with violin–almost Kansas sounding. The keyboards and guitar then provide a nice hint for the coming chorus. Then they both return to the softer intro while the crooning of Allen begins. This has to be my favorite song on this album. All of the musicians stand out perfectly. The solos are pure bliss, some of the most beautiful ever done. The pianos blended in with the softer electric guitar are a truly magnificent sound–I hope the band continues this as they excel at it. The melody is the best I have heard in a very long time. You will want to listen to this one repeatedly.Just then, with “Bird-Serpent” the band go unleashed and throw the listener into a web of intertwining heavy guitars and thumping drums. Throughout this track, the band is allowed “let loose.” Never straying too far away from their trademark neo-classical sound, this one will please fans of “Damnation Game.” Allan’s voice is more forceful here–how he can use his full range and volume without straining his vocal chords is beyond me, the man is something else.The albums second theatrical composition comes next with “On the Breath of Poseidon.” Hey Metallica, even with a real orchestra you never sounded as good as SymX. Are those REAL French horns and oboes in the mix, I would swear they are! This band should be allowed to compose and conduct their work with a real orchestra–the result would be incredible!Next is probably the second best song on the album, “Egypt.” It begins with acoustic guitar playing an Eastern chord progression with orchestral accompaniment. The percussion stands out with the instruments here and some of the band’s most progressive nature shines bright. The vocals in this track are fantastic. Again, I can hear faint likeness to Kansas and perhaps Queen–and the song is easily as good as anything the two bands have produced. Michael Romeo proves he can play something other than electric guitars throughout this album, and this song is probably his best display of acoustic virtuosity. The bass playing during the Eastern solos in this cut is breathtaking–with Romeo’s guitar flawlessly incorporating it toward the end of the solo. The piano at the end of this song would make Puccini proud. “Gaze in these eyes my child and see,” the best band that is and ever was…The bands third foray into theatrical music comes next with “Death of Balance – Lacrymosa.” However, this time around the metal sound is much more prominent. The ever-wonderful percussion of Jason Rullo stands out here. Once Allen joins the mix, the tune becomes operatic–once again Allan proves that he may be the best vocalist out there; a whole choir exists thanks to him.”Absence of Light” could be described as Dream Theater-esque speed-metal. The piano/organ/metal-guitar returns here–thanks guys!”A Fool’s Paradise,” another speed-metal opus, showcases Allan’s vocal range.A short interlude of guitars and spacey keyboards and we are on our way to experiencing the grand finale “The New Mythology.” This song brings back many of the themes introduced throughout the album and rounds out the band’s magnum opus perfectly. The piano/guitar combination resurfaces here, and again the music dances in my ears. Russell Allan runs the gamut from his subtle operatic tones to the emotionally eruptive growl, often in succession. About midway through this song, the listener is treated to almost a tribute to Queen, capped-off with Allan’s full emotion coming to the fore. As much as Allan’s voice explores the entire sonic spectrum, so too does the music–accentuating the vocals superbly.To sum it up, this album is the best effort to date by progressive metal’s GREATEST band.

    Posted on January 30, 2010