Symphony X

What's your favorite Symphony X album?

  • Symphony X

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Damnation Game

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Iconoclast

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Underworld

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    14

LooseCannon

Yorktown-class aircraft carrier
Staff member
Higher than The Odyssey?! Man, I want to keep up, you’re just moving faster than I. I shall return soon with my opinions!
I was shocked too, to be honest. It's a weaker album in the first half, but very strong down the back end. I think it's a more accessible album as well, and it probably gains that.

Also, I took a week off!
 

MrKnickerbocker

clap hands
The Odyssey
This is a tough album for me to review because it was my first taste of Symphony X and it opened my eyes to the glory of what metal is capable of. The melody, the riffs, the power, the majesty, the performances...I have a special connection to this album in the same way I have a special connection to Maiden's Brave New World. I've also seen them perform most of these songs live and it was insane. I wish they'd bring half of this album back into their concert rotation.

1. Inferno (Unleash the Fire)
- What a fucking barnburning opener. The way the main riff swirls around that drum and bass groove, the crazy heavy vibe, Russell dipping into his true demon voice for the first time (but still belting out those clean highs in the pre-chorus and chorus)...I love this song. Better than Sins and Shadows/Smoke & Mirrors, in my opinion. The vocal bridge is very reminiscent of V and it makes for a beautiful break in intensity. The whole thing is purely cheesetastic, but it's just done so well. 10/10

2. Wicked - This song hits like a sledgehammer after the madness of Inferno. I adore the groove, the overall vibe of darkness. I love Russell dipping more into his rock/soul vocal tendencies, it shows the band pays attention to their incredible vocalist. Nice solo duel, another brilliant bridge section with multiple vocal textures, Rullo laying those drums on so thick...this song fucks. That last "she said" is worthy of 2 points on its own. 10/10

3. Incantations of the Apprentice - A majestic, brooding intro with some more Lovecraftian madness swirls and we're off to another heavy start. I feel like the band is throwing too many textures into this one. The horns and synth waves seem a little at odds with the heavy riffing from Romeo. Russell's vocals are cleverly laid throughout the verses and pre-chorus, but the chorus is a letdown. It's still a decent song, but underwhelming when compared to the quality that surrounds it. 8/10

4. Accolade II - I did not think the beauty of the first Accolade song could be surpassed. I did not think that any band could make a sequel song on a later album that ends up being better than the first. I have clearly underestimated Symphony X. Accolade II is another crowning achievement. It takes every element of the first part and distills it down into a leaner, meaner, superior beast. This song is beyond epic, beyond gorgeous, beyond powerful. The music is simply splendid. One of Russell's most emotionally chilling performances. Pinnella's keyboard work is just resplendent. Romeo has his best guitar solo ever, full of melody and technique. What a damn song. 10/10

5. King of Terrors - From pure beauty to pure rage, this song hits like a truckfull of fiery bricks. Easily the band's best "full-on heavy" tune up to this point. It's just fucking brutal from the riffs to Russell's vocals to the rapid single-kick groove. The talking section is neat and the music that follows continues to pummel. Romeo's solo is actual madness and wanking, but those harmonic ending notes make it worth it. The chorus is just massive. 10/10

6. The Turning - The intensity continues here, but this falls more into the Incantations mould. It's not bad, it's just a little paint-by-numbers SX. There's some cool layers here, especially vocally, and the chorus grows nicely, but it's just not very memorable. Russell's hitting the growls a little hard. His wails at 1:40 are truly great, though. Some decent solos and grooves abound, but this is easily the weakest track on the album. 7/10

7. Awakenings - A contender for most unique song in the discography, Awakenings lands closer to the epic ballad side of things (like Accolade II) but also introduces some jazz elements and even heavier use of piano. This is in my top 10 Symphony X songs of all time. The bass solo in the intro is gorgeous, as are the keyboards and drums that surround it. Romeo brings back the lightly distorted, delayed chord technique heard on V and it works perfectly. I love the intro guitar lead as well, it's so quiet and melodic for Romeo. We are treated to another impeccable, emotionally-complex performance from Sir Russell Allen. I think this is easily his best album and this is one of his best songs on the whole damn thing. The first 2:30 of this song are just perfect and it all turns with a single minor keystroke into another badass metal song. The band takes so many compositional chances that you won't hear on future tracks. Romeo has three solos in the first 2/3's of the tune, we get four progressive verses before hitting a giant, swinging chorus in 6/8 time, followed by a fourth guitar solo! The break at 5:35 into a heavy metal jazz competition is amazing, and Lepond and Pinnella literally just have a walking bass piano jazz duet. It's fucking amazing. Rullo and Romeo's syncopated interplay around the lighter elements is masterful. Every one of Pinnella's organ solo melodies is eternally etched into my brain. This is not the best Symphony X epic, nor the best Symphony X rocker, but to me it is a perfect Symphony X song. 10/10

8. The Odyssey - There is nothing more to be said of this song or this album. I have run out of superlatives. The Odyssey is hands down the best Symphony X song of all time. It has everything. It does everything. It goes everywhere. If this were the band's final album (Dio forbid), there would be no way to go out any higher. The Odyssey is the single greatest progressive metal, symphonic metal, or power metal song ever written. 1,000,000,000/10

Album rating - 9.3/10

V: The New Mythology Suite ends up with a higher ranking because of combined segueway tracks and overall quality, but The Odyssey is easily my favorite Symphony X album. True, it has two less than stellar tracks, but the other 6 songs are among their greatest output ever recorded. This is my desert island SX album. This album heralds the arrival of winter and holds you tight and keeps you warm until spring, at which point, it will still rock your face off until winter returns again.
 

LooseCannon

Yorktown-class aircraft carrier
Staff member
8. The Odyssey - There is nothing more to be said of this song or this album. I have run out of superlatives. The Odyssey is hands down the best Symphony X song of all time. It has everything. It does everything. It goes everywhere. If this were the band's final album (Dio forbid), there would be no way to go out any higher. The Odyssey is the single greatest progressive metal, symphonic metal, or power metal song ever written. 1,000,000,000/10
Yeah, pretty much. Absolutely stellar.
 

Mosh

The years just pass like trains
Staff member
I agree Paradise Lost more accessible but I like the first half better overall. But the whole album is very strong. Maybe more consistent and offers a better full album experience than Odyssey, but it’s lacking some of the highs.

It would be my pick for album to play live in its entirety, other than V. I think that would be an awesome on stage experience.
 

MrKnickerbocker

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4. Accolade II - Normally, when I see a song's sequel, I get pretty trepidatious towards it; song sequels are what people do to cash out on other successes (Unforgiven III, literally both Something Wicked albums). What we get here is a gorgeous re-imagining of The Accolade, with new layers added on. I listened to them back-to-back for this comparison, and while the music has many of the same calls, it is so much more mature and evolved. Pinnella gives the Accolade theme stellar new tiers. The lyrics follow on with the son of the first hero, and Russell belts out an incredible performance on the track. The chorus is chilling and simple and so earnest. A little shorter than the original Accolade, but I believe that's because the band has learned to tell the same style of tale with the complexities compressed and made more evident. This shows how SX has progressed into a titan of prog. 10/10.*
I saw them play these back-to-back once and it was one of the single greatest moments ever. I really should go back and see if I can piece together all the different SX songs I've seen live...

8. The Odyssey
Part I - Odysseus's Theme / Overture - We are introduced to the King of Ithaca via instrumental. His march is triumphant and martial - as it should be. Odysseus, let us not remember, is the ally of King Agamemnon, one of the victorious heroes of the Trojan War. This journey into lietmotif is positively Nobuo-esque and would sound just at home on the soundtrack of any JRPG from the early 2000s. The Odyssey's Overture, by comparison, is mourning and a mounting crescendo, perhaps a fitting way to tell the tale of a great wandering hero. One of literature's greatest journeys is ahead of us. The Trojan War has ended. The city has fallen. Paris and Hector, Achilles and Ajax are dead. Odysseus wants nothing more than to return home.
Part II - Journey to Ithaca - The way the King's lament is written are nothing more nor less than the most beautiful lyrics written by Symphony X.
Part III - The Eye - Wicked and cruel keyboards from Pinnella and savage bass from Lepond pull us into a hurricane that savaged the Ithacan fleet and forced Odysseus off course. The Eye doesn't refer to the eye of the hurricane, though - no. It refers to the Isle of the Cyclopes. The one-eyed beasts that trapped and ate Odysseus's loyal sailors and soldiers. They were greedy and wanted to plunder the cave for its wealth, only to be trapped and killed. Eventually the surviving Ithacans escape and are given a magic bag...what is inside? Riches? Or something else? A great rock song here, Russell uses his voice to give the greed and aggression and fear of the Ithacans true life.
Part IV - Circe (The Daughter of the Sun) - A cacophony of music represents the opening of the bag. What was inside? The winds, save the west wind. The King was blown off course to Aeaea and he visited the titular Circe, who entranced him with her magic. The ethereal and enchanting keyboards are perfect here, Pinnella is the true standout of this track to date. The confusion and mystification of Odysseus is caught up gorgeously, though his will overcomes hers...and then she entrances him for a year, eventually gifting him knowledge home
Part V - Sirens - The first challenge was the sirens, the call of which would lure men to their death. Again cruel and haunting, the rolling guitars and bass and drums evident of a violent storm being surpassed. Short, but effective.
Part VI - Scylla and Charybdis - Next, the hero meets Scylla and Charybdis; the latter a whirlpool that can destroy any ship, the other a six-headed monster. He does so, but they ignored the final advice - his surviving sailors, as the music grows into a dark crescendo while all seems clear, consumed the holy cattle. They were slain, and only our hero remains, now bound to Calypso as his lover. Yet...Odysseus is not yet out of tricks. He eventually begins to tell his amazing tale...as his music returns, he is freed by Calypso, granted treasure and wealth, and finally...finally...after twenty years...returns to Ithaca.
Part VII - The Fate of the Suitors / The Champion of Ithaca - We return to a softer tune, for a heartbeat, before we crash into a battle. Why, when Odysseus was away, suitors tried to convince his bride that the Hero of the Trojan War had died. That one of the many misadventures he encountered has claimed his life. Russell catches the indignation of Odysseus as he sneaks into his kingdom as a simple beggar. It's time for one last battle. Triiiiumphant Champion of Ithaca! My god, that's stellar. Yet his fury is relentless; he kills another generation of Ithaca's finest men for their greed, as he killed the previous generation at Troy and on his Odyssey. Finally, Athena helps Odysseus restore balance and reclaim his throne, wife and heir, and bring the final battle of the greatest war of mythology to its end. We return to where we started in Part II:

Seems like forever that my eyes have been denied
Home - I'm finally home
I've been twenty years away from all I ever knew
I have returned to make my dream come true
Enough to make me weep. 11/10*. Triumphant, beautiful, engaging, climactic, and powerful. The best Symphony X song to date.
This is truly a work of art when it comes to a review. Your combination of sonic description and story description is wonderful. I honestly read through this as the song was playing.

Is it as good as V: The New Mythology Suite? No. It's not, and that's to be expected. V was an entire album of the same quality as the title track from The Odyssey, and if it wasn't for the addition of Accolade II, this would be an album with a single purpose. But The Odyssey itself is magnificent - I almost went to 12 on the track, it's that good. There's no bad tracks on this album, it merely has the problem that everything else pales to the masterpiece that ends our time listening today.
I love V but I sincerely don't think there is anything on it as good as the title track here. It's a grand masterpiece overall, but much like Accolade II improving on The Accolade by shaving some running time and compressing the different sections, so doth The Odyssey manage to tell a grand story in 30 minutes versus 70 (and tell a bigger story, albeit with the benefit of having the source material already created).
 

LooseCannon

Yorktown-class aircraft carrier
Staff member
I saw them play these back-to-back once and it was one of the single greatest moments ever. I really should go back and see if I can piece together all the different SX songs I've seen live...
Yeah, I'd love to see that. I really think they're a great duology, and if they were tempted to revisit the song again, I'd be all-in.

I love V but I sincerely don't think there is anything on it as good as the title track here. It's a grand masterpiece overall, but much like Accolade II improving on The Accolade by shaving some running time and compressing the different sections, so doth The Odyssey manage to tell a grand story in 30 minutes versus 70 (and tell a bigger story, albeit with the benefit of having the source material already created).
There's a difference between writing an epic storytelling song and an epic storytelling album. The latter gives you more freedom to spin out ideas, and that is what V is, and although V is an incredible album, it does have some low points as some lesser (still very good) ideas are spun out a tad too long. The Odyssey (the song) doesn't have a single missed beat. In 20 minutes of writing and storytelling, that's incredible; the feat's just impossible to replicate over 60+ minutes, or so it would seem.

This is truly a work of art when it comes to a review. Your combination of sonic description and story description is wonderful. I honestly read through this as the song was playing.
Thank you, that means a lot to me coming from someone whose opinion I hold so highly!
 

MrKnickerbocker

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1. Oculus Ex Inferni - A suitably epic, incredibly orchestral intro. It's bridging the gap between The Odyssey and this album, including some increased Gregorian chant and angelic choir presence (that will return later). Romeo and Pinnella knock this shit out of the park. It really sets the stage for the theme of this album, even if it is somewhat misleading regarding the overall sound. Unfortunately, the album won't be this symphonic ever again. 8/10

2. Set the World on Fire (The Lie of Lies) - We transition perfectly into this riff-fest that is reminiscent of tunes like Sins and Shadows or Smoke and Mirrors. The difference, however, is the heaviness at play. There's manic chugging, some quick blast beats, and Russell's using the most gravel ever. It's a damn showstopper with a huge, hooky, soaring chorus. The guitars are definitely 1-2dbs too loud and are masking Pinnella, which is a shame because there's some really cool layers. This is a production note for the whole album, though, and not a true critique of this song. Anywho, the unisons are great, the solos are great, it's SX hitting volume 11 and never letting go. Russell's final "lie of lies" and that outro (with chanting!) seal the deal and push this into the top tier, "true banger" category. 10/10

3. Domination - A silky, insane bass lead (with harmonics!) ushers us into this headcrushing tune. The band is on fire, only to be dragged down into the pits of hell with a swipe of the whammy bar. The harshness continues with some sick riffs, evil keyboard layers, a phat ass beat, and Russell legitimately sounding pained. I'm scared for his throat. Right before the second verse we get a guitar/bass unison and it rules. Hi, Lepond! The bridge is incredible, with keyboard/guitar/bass interplay that just rocks my socks off. Lepond throws a little cool walking bassline in there before the insane shriek chord part (featuring awesome keyboard backdrops from Pinnella). Right before the final verse Romeo hits the Gregorian chant trigger a couple times, too. It's a very tight, twisty song with some brilliant musical sections and, lest I forget, some incredible drumming from Rullo. 9/10

4. The Serpent's Kiss - Speaking of twistiness, this main riff is one of my favorite Symphony X things ever. It's got balls, it's got swing, it's super catchy - probably the catchiest single riff Romeo has ever written. Russell uses so many different textures and tones on this song and I love it. I think I probably rate this tune higher than most SX fans, but I just love it. The vocals rule and the different sections mesh perfectly. Romeo's solo is great. In this bridge we get angels and chants! The muted guitar during the bridge is lovely and Russell's "vindicators, masqueraders, all the world's my stage!" is the first contender for my favorite moment on the album. 10/10

5. Paradise Lost - We finally come to a ballad and it's a very pretty one. The piano is wonderful and the acoustics add a beautiful break from all the doom and anger. Russell sounds divine. Lepond is perfectly mixed here and sounds amazing! His bass is so perfect without sounding overplayed. The chorus is rare in that the pitch drops from the verses, creating a very welcoming, warm chorus that resonates perfectly at this point in the album. I love Romeo's serpentine guitar layers during the second verse and his bluesy playing while Russell literally sings "serpentine". Hot damn, Russell sounds so good. "Say goodbye, goodbye..." with the piano work through Romeo's amazing solo (shades of Accolade II) through Russell's building vocal bridge starting with "so I've cheated..." is the second contender (and possibly winner) for my favorite overall moment on the album. Oh, also those vocal layers during the ending are gorgeous. 10/10

6. Eve of Seduction - Shades of The Devil Went Down to Georgia on this heavy, ripping tune. This album really is a showcase for some of Romeo's most flowing, bluesy-yet-heavy riffs. Love the chorus, love the "what can I do", love how the vocals dovetail into the main riff - it really shows how far this band has come in term's of song structure and pop sensibilities. We are treated to some more Lovecraftian Swirls of Madness during the bridge. Love this tune. Another 10/10

7. The Walls of Babylon - Eastern melodies and sparkling strings lead us into this damned behemoth of a song. The chanting returns in full force. Rullo's drumming is out of this world. His shifting beat underneath Romeo's repetitive riffs is brilliant and reminds me of some of Portnoy's best structural work. Within the first 3.5 amazing minutes of instrumental riffage we also get a keyboard solo! Oh hi, Mike! And then a sick bass riff lead! Oh hi, Mike! And then some more wicked guitar riffing! Oh hi, Mike! Russell's vocals cut like a knife and his layers during the (incredibly epic, Iced Earth-wish-they-could-write-this) chorus are just masterful. "Skies of red-winged thunder" is one of his most astounding vocal pieces ever. I remember him performing this live and, holy crap, the fact that he could duplicate that multiple times per night was beyond impressive. The riff underneath that section couldn't be better, either. Overall, this song is the best showcase for each individual member of the band: each instrument is crisp, distinctive, and each has their own moment to shine. The only thing I dislike about this song is the short fade out. Still, it's a 10/10.

8. Seven - Wait a minute, we're still listening to a neoclassical band?! Duh, this is Symphony X. Seven (track 8 UGH) is the most "classic" SX song in the mix here but for some reason it just doesn't grab me the way everything else does. The riffing is fast, the playing is tight, I just don't think the songwriting is as strong as the rest of the album. Russell sounds good but the melodies don't do much for me. The lyrics reference the next song and their biggest hit, which I think is a bit lame. I don't know, the whole thing is a bit jumbled for me. A good thrasher, but easily the weakest track on the album. It does have a tapping bass solo, though, and it's incredibly long and has chants! 7/10

9. The Sacrifice - From heavy madness to pretty, almost lute-driven Russell Allen lullabies...this is a nice, pretty little power ballad with an amazing vocal performance. The song itself is definitely underbaked, but it's a nice bookend to the title track. The singing on the chorus really is something special and the transition into the bridge is magnificent. This section before the solo with Lepond's killer bass fills is the third contender for my favorite overall moment on the album. The ending is wonderful, from Russell's whispered line through Romeo's little classical guitar piece. Nice ideas all around and solid performances, but the song is an 8/10.

10. Revelation (Divus Pennae Ex Tragoedia) - And here we go. The majesty returns! It's huge from the get-go, with epic syncopated hits and that harmonized guitar/keyboard melody. Once again the rhythm section swings the beat around the riff to utter success. I love how the layers drop out for the first section of the verse and how Pinnella sprinkles piano both light and dark throughout the song. The chorus is gigantic and the most melodic thing we've heard since the title track. Russell uses every facet of his vocal ability to turn in different textures in each section. Rullo is a madman, too. The bridge goes from beautiful to insane and back again over the course of 3 minutes (including chants!). The section starting around 6:15 with multiple guitar layers, bass grooves, and Russell's clean singing all leading up to "good and evil never ends" is the fourth contender for my favorite overall moment on the album. The fact that this song, and most of the album, is a prequel to The Divine Wings of Tragedy just makes it that much more awesome. 10/10

Final Score: 9.2/10

There is no doubt about it: this is Symphony X's most mature, well-structured, and consistent album ever. To date, they have still not managed to put together something so cohesive and so strong throughout. Even though my ratings are filled with full marks, however, I simply find some of the "magic" to be missing in the sound. The increased heaviness really works for these songs and the band in general, but I'm missing the lighter, airy moments from the previous releases. There's not a single song on here that I adore the way I adore the 10/10's from the previous album and most of that is because of the tone. That said, this is probably my go-to album when I just want to rock to a SX album full stop with no real filler. It's also the easiest gateway drug into the band as it is both heavy, catchy, and accessible (it's easily their least progressive album in terms of song structure). A great album that ends the true pinnacle of Symphony X.
 
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MrKnickerbocker

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6. Eve of Seduction - I like the way this one rolls, rising and falling, with a little more Pinnella - though I worry that he's been relegated to a bit of a lesser role in this album so far.

8. Seven - Shouldn't this be track 7? Or are they not counting the intro? What's in the boxxxxxxx? Anyway. Yes, this song is great. It sounds like something ripped off The Damnation Game and given new life by a mature band. Fast and aggressive, with superb rolling keyboards from Pinnella and strong drumming from Rullo. Strong singing from Russell, especially in the quieter, prettier-sung interludes. He still puts a demonic twist of it. The chorus is killer, especially as the song creeps up towards its climax. Best instrumental section on the album yet. The danger of doing a song like this is that you sound like you're trying to reclaim your youth, but the band manages it. Romeo's solo is a monster here, haunting and vicious. 10/10, best song on the album so far.

10. Revelation (Divus Pennae Ex Tragoedia) - They saved the best for last. With musical pieces reminiscent of those you'd find in the songs Divine Wings of Tragedy, The Odyssey, and all over the V album, this track really is a standout on the album. It might not quite get to the same peaks as the previous standout tracks, but it's a grandiose ending that maybe loses some of the luster I've come to expect from these final album tracks.

I wasn't expecting to enjoy this album as much as I do. After the opening it gets a little morose, and I feel like it's missing that next gear from time to time. However, it's still an incredible album. When I first listened to all the Symphony X albums, this is the one that stood out. It's come to pale to V, and none of its tracks get to the places that songs like The Odyssey, Divine Wings of Tragedy, or Rediscovery Pt II find, but it is a very solid album with a grand back five.
re: EoS - It's a damn shame, really, because Pinnella's keyboard (and particularly his piano) work have always been my favorite layer of the SX sound. It's so delicate yet powerful, haunting yet demanding...they've slowly moved away from keeping the melody instruments on an even playing field and IMO it's to the band's detriment.

re: Seven - I think it sounds too much like The Damnation Game, like the band said, "Wait, we need a neoclassical jam!" and Romeo wrote it overnight. Moreso than anything I think Russell is the weakest link on this song and that's never something I want to hear from this band.

re: Relevation - This is really the only full song on the album that resonates with me the same way some of those other epics you mentioned have done in the past. It captures that "Symphony X vibe" (what is it? hopeful? majestic? I don't know) that has also taken a backseat on recent albums.

There's something about the darkness and evil tonalities on Paradise Lost that strip away the beauty this band once had. As you said, it's a grand, metallic listening experience, but it just doesn't connect the way those earlier songs and albums do.
 

Confeos

Game time started.
Really enjoyed reading both @MrKnickerbocker and @LooseCannon 's reviews of Paradise Lost. It was my gateway into Symphony X, and today I still rate it as a phenomenal album, among the all-time best. Sure, it may not be a concept album in the classical sense, but it tackles the themes of the original poem very well, and they manage to keep Satan as that sort of anti-hero he is, with both villainous and noble (in a self-righteous sense) intentions. Set the World on Fire and Domination sound like they are taken directly from the pits of Hell (it also helps a lot that Russell Allen can conjure a demonic growl like few others!), and the title track is beyond gorgeous. Perfection.
 

MrKnickerbocker

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The Odyssey was my first SX album, but this one was the first one I got to live in. They released it while touring a ton, I bought it the first day, I must have seen 4 shows during this touring cycle, so even though these songs might not be my all time favorite they are burned in my brain and my experiences with them are unforgettable.
 

LooseCannon

Yorktown-class aircraft carrier
Staff member
Iconoclast (2011)



iconoclast (noun)
  1. One who destroys religious images or icons, especially an opponent of the Orthodox Church in the 8th and 9th centuries, or a Puritan during the European Reformation.
  2. One who opposes orthodoxy and religion; one who adheres to the doctrine of iconoclasm.
  3. One who attacks cherished beliefs.
1. Iconoclast - The very name of this album should prepare you for something new. There's no gentle opening, no beautiful orchestral introduction welcoming us. Iconoclast begins with a confusing, rapid series of keyboards and riffs that eventually leads into the choir-type music we've come to expect. Then the band rips that away and replaces it with a brutal, heavy rock riff. Russell comes in with a strong aggressive tone and we are introduced to this themed album about dystopian futures. I'm not convinced they are about the same futures. The titular Iconoclast has risen on the back of fear and hatred, and the first verses describe his coming to power. The simple chorus has a different sound; there is resistance there. We are strong, we will stand and fight! It's a rallying cry. The second verses are about the resistance to the Iconoclast, holding against his attacks, but being slowly forced back. The final verses give us a sad message: the brave resistance has faltered. Slowly they fall as we watch the daylight die. The instrumental is intentionally jarring, juxtaposing a more heroic sound with a more ugly and savage one. The choruses chant on, a martial horn blows; doom is coming at the hands of the Iconoclast. Romeo's solo is insanely rapid, fitting for a battle between forces juxtaposed irrevocably, while Pinnella plays a more descending solo, one that seems to slip a little lower as it goes on, losing speed and aggression as the chorus comes in, a rise and fall that fades away; the loss of the side of justice. The next part has this really interesting jarring sound, it sounds almost like an alarm, a warning as to what is to come. This instrumental section is really deep and meaningful, and I think it's fair to say the band has never started an album with a work this complex and enthralling. 10/10*.

2. The End of Innocence - Quick fingers from Pinnella to start, backed up by a monster bass line from Lepond, this one is fast and aggressive off the bat, then segues into something a little more musical, but this song doesn't have more hope. Although this isn't a concept album, it's easy to tie this track to the previous one. That rough-voiced Russell easily captures the feeling of a group of people who are under occupation by some sort of machine, synthetic gods, our man. There's little time for anything joyous, though the chorus does soar a little. Not much of an instrumental here, but then we get a more clean Russell for a moment with the world's lament. This part reminds me of the movie Soldier with Kurt Russell, about a future soldier replaced by a bio-engineered human soldier. The solo towards the end of the track is good, but doesn't slot into the overall theme as well as they do on many other Symphony X songs. The lack of a keyboard solo is notable. 7/10.

3. Dehumanized - Another quick intro, with a bit more of an evil sound. Russell is at his darkest yet on this album, and it seems to be about some sort of electronic drug that is transforming people, tap the vein, inject my brain is pretty aggressive. Not a big fan of the chorus, it's fine I guess, and it certainly hits the idea of something wicked happening. The line "system plague" from Church of the Machine is called directly here. It reminds me both of the human batteries in The Matrix and the transformation of humans into Borg in Star Trek: The Next Generation. We get a bit cleaner Russell when we get a bit of a lament - a human looking at their own wreckage and wondering what they've done in a moment of lucidity. The solo is a bit better here. It's fine, but I don't really love the track. 7/10.

4. Bastards of the Machine - Rapid keyboards at the start, a quick riff, yep, this song sounds a lot like the previous two. I think this is one of the things I like least about Iconoclast, it's not even that it's such a departure from previous albums, it's that a lot of it sounds very, very samey. This song barely sounds like a Symphony X song. Decent chorus (from a band I have gotten used to delivering epic choruses)I do., but once again Pinnella disappears after the song gets going, though he gets a solo this time. Kind of a boring one, but yeah. I can't even get into the lyrical content. It's not bad, it's just getting very meh. 5.5/10.

5. Heretic - See, this sounds a bit better. Pinella is playing this fun little aria over the intro, we get insane rhythm work from Rullo and Lepond, and Romeo isn't all over the place. The lyrical content reminds me of Foundation quite a lot, combined with Blade Runner, with robots who have learned to violate the Three Laws and can effortlessly slip among humans. The chorus is more catchy than it is epic, but it works for the viciousness being sought for the track. Good solo from Romeo here, and I really like the harmony part right after the solo. It's far from the band's best work, but it is much better than the rest of this album (save the title track) so far. 8/10*.

6. Children of a Faceless God - Kind of a bland intro, but I like where it eventually gets in the chorus. Still, this song feels pretty samey in a lot of ways. I remember liking this one a lot during my first playthrough, but I think it was all because the chorus is a bit more traditional Symphony X. Not a big fan of the harmonies on the verses. The lyrical content reminds me kind of the freak shows on futuristic films like Fifth Element or Total Recall. The instrumental is rapid and aggressive, but it doesn't tell a story because I feel like this song doesn't have much story to tell. The choruses are pretty damn good though. 7.5/10.

7. When All Is Lost - Piano to start, finally something that sounds different. Russell sounds more of his traditional self here. This song is about a person at the end of their rope; someone who tried to live a good life and failed. Unlike most of the rest of the album, this is about an individual's poor future, not society's. It's an interesting take on the subject. It starts to pick up after the first couple verses, with a riff coming in showing this won't be all ballad, and then the song starts to get a little more traditional for this band as Russell starts to soar - starts to, but never quite gets there in the first couple choruses. Pinella plucks away, continuing to lead this track through the first chorus. A really good instrumental section with emotive keyboard reminds me of what the rest of this album is missing. The rest of this album kind of sounds like discount Avenged Sevenfold, and that's not why I spin a Symphony X album, but this one calls back to early songs in the discography like The Accolade and The Edge of Forever in all the good ways. Still, it never quite gets to the peak I would expect this style of track to reach. 8.5/10*.

8. Electric Messiah - Aggressive and fast to start. Rough and cruel riffs, but nothing distinguishing from the rest of the album yet. Russell goes from more of a rough sound to a cleaner sound in the bridge and choruses, which I like. A better chorus here than even Children of a Faceless God for this otherwise samey track, but it's going to end up around the same point. It maybe sounds a little more samey than the rest, maybe this album is just giving me a bit of fatigue. I do enjoy the lyrical comparisons between Jesus and the Iconoclast of the first track, though. The instrumental section is a little more interesting, but not much more, but the solos fall flat, and Pinnella gets, what, a quarter the time as Romeo? So I guess I'll stick with 7.5/10.

9. Prometheus (I Am Alive) - Prometheus is the name given by Dr. Frankenstein to his monster, and this song is almost clearly about an artifical lifeform, but I would say it reminds me more in the song of Skynet from the Terminator movies than anything else. The intro has some interesting riffs, heavy work, but then it gets back into the same sort of samey stuff as the rest of the album. Dark and dirty, sure. Verses are nothing interesting, but a bit of a better chorus, though not that high. This one stinks of filler, which is something I have rarely said for this band. It's fine, but it's not good. 6/10.

10. Light Up the Night - This is a shorter one, which means we don't even get an interesting intro, we go right to Russell's deeper rock vocals and another fast bass-driven series of riffs. You know, there's a lot of double-bass on this album. This one also feels like filler and I'm having a harder and harder time staying engaged in these reviews. Nothing is actively bad, but it's clearly flawed. 5.5/10.

11. The Lords of Chaos - I was eating nachos and barely noticed when the track switched. Not a good sign to start. Still, it feels like there's a little more here than the previous track, but only a little more. Chorus is better, the we rule, we fly, above the lights of the neon sky. Unfortunately the song is about future bikers, so it loses a little gravitas for that. Some of the callbacks in the lyrics make you feel like this was supposed to be a concept album, then the band just gave up. The music is extremely basic for Symphony X, as if they were trying for some sort of rock single. Also, I'm docking a half point for like the 6th fadeout on the album. 7/10.

12. Reign in Madness - Oh hey! Yes, you have a keyboardist, Symphony X! A really good one, nice to hear him again. At least this one sounds a little...oh, no, there's that same sort of riffing again. I like the choruses, though, they are demonic and aggressive, but without doing so to the point of parody. I feel like they wrote this song first and went, "yeah, let's make a whole album of that". Unfortunately, it never hits the level I'd want it to hit, and it never feels epic, which is a big problem with this entire album. Nice blistering keyboard solo, but I felt like the song meandered to get there. 7.5/10, and you know, it feels like it could have been a lot better.

Final Score: 72.5%
* this song was added to my "Greatest Hits" playlist that stays on my phone at all time. A globally recognized mark of excellence.

This album is fine, but I can see why it got Symphony X's best reviews and best charting positions - it's hardly a Symphony X album. Much like Paradise Lost missing that signature panache of the band, this doubles-down on that notion, creating a far more commercial output that really goes against what truly makes this band unique and great. Russell fails to sound like Russell, and Pinnella spends half the time buried underneath bass from Rullo and Lepond. The end result is an album that I'm sure people like, and I like it enough, but too many tracks are bland and disinteresting. Only one track is truly great here, the title track. The rest....I can leave it behind.

Only one album left, and we'll have to see how it goes.
 

Night Prowler

CriedWhenBazzaSued
Staff member
8. Electric Messiah - Aggressive and fast to start. Rough and cruel riffs, but nothing distinguishing from the rest of the album yet. Russell goes from more of a rough sound to a cleaner sound in the bridge and choruses, which I like. A better chorus here than even Children of a Faceless God for this otherwise samey track, but it's going to end up around the same point. It maybe sounds a little more samey than the rest, maybe this album is just giving me a bit of fatigue. I do enjoy the lyrical comparisons between Jesus and the Iconoclast of the first track, though. The instrumental section is a little more interesting, but not much more, but the solos fall flat, and Pinnella gets, what, a quarter the time as Romeo? So I guess I'll stick with 7.5/10.
:(
 

Confeos

Game time started.
Iconoclast has some good moments, but it's sandwiched between two superior albums in my opinion. Favourite songs for me are the title track and "Prometheus".
 

Black Wizard

Cereal Litigator
7. When All Is Lost - Piano to start, finally something that sounds different. Russell sounds more of his traditional self here. This song is about a person at the end of their rope; someone who tried to live a good life and failed. Unlike most of the rest of the album, this is about an individual's poor future, not society's. It's an interesting take on the subject. It starts to pick up after the first couple verses, with a riff coming in showing this won't be all ballad, and then the song starts to get a little more traditional for this band as Russell starts to soar - starts to, but never quite gets there in the first couple choruses. Pinella plucks away, continuing to lead this track through the first chorus. A really good instrumental section with emotive keyboard reminds me of what the rest of this album is missing. The rest of this album kind of sounds like discount Avenged Sevenfold, and that's not why I spin a Symphony X album, but this one calls back to early songs in the discography like The Accolade and The Edge of Forever in all the good ways. Still, it never quite gets to the peak I would expect this style of track to reach. 8.5/10*.
'When All Is Lost' is one of my favourite Symphony X songs. :) I enjoyed 'Iconoclast' a lot when it came out. Nowadays I don't know where I'd rank it compared to the rest of their discography but I'll have to do a bit of catching up before I see them at the start of June.
 

MrKnickerbocker

clap hands
I think this is one of the things I like least about Iconoclast, it's not even that it's such a departure from previous albums, it's that a lot of it sounds very, very samey.

It maybe sounds a little more samey than the rest, maybe this album is just giving me a bit of fatigue.
You hit the nail on the head. Just search your post for use of the word "samey". It's not that Iconoclast is terrible, it's just too much and too much of the same. There couldn't be a worse possible Symphony X album to exist as a "double album". Not only are the songs far too similar, there's too many of them and they're structured very poorly.

I don't care that Symphony X tried something different, but I do care that they overdid it while still underbaking the songwriting and structure. If you cut minimum 3 songs and reorder some of them into a more traditional Symphony X tracklisting it wouldn't feel like such an exhausting departure.

I would honestly do something like this to mirror the previous album structures:

1. The End of Innocence
2. Dehumanized
3. Reign in Madness
4. Heretic
5. Children of a Faceless God
6. When All Is Lost
7. Electric Messiah
8. Prometheus (I Am Alive)
9. Iconoclast

Lyrically, I think that also makes the "plot" stronger and brings this closer to the idea of a true concept album.
 

LooseCannon

Yorktown-class aircraft carrier
Staff member
You hit the nail on the head. Just search your post for use of the word "samey". It's not that Iconoclast is terrible, it's just too much and too much of the same. There couldn't be a worse possible Symphony X album to exist as a "double album". Not only are the songs far too similar, there's too many of them and they're structured very poorly.
It's not a bad album. It's just very, very boring, and the high points aren't as high. The low points are among the bands lowest, but not all the way at the bottom. It boggles my mind that this is their most famous album, and unfortunately one that seems to impact their sound on Underworld a lot.

I get that the band wanted to do something different. But it is very clear to me that they have forsaken what made them truly great.
 

LooseCannon

Yorktown-class aircraft carrier
Staff member
FYI, gonna try to close this out this weekend so I can put my energies into Dream Theater in advance of my April 5th viewing of the current tour.
 
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