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
    19

Spambot

Ancient Mariner
The Damnation Game

OK, it's a bit better production. The rythm section sounds more present but the synth still sounds like it's made for some SNES game.
The intro is great, quite busy and chaotic but it really makes a good first impact on the album. Also, I really like those bass licks, here and on the previous albums. Shame you can't really hear him outside these few solo endeavours.

Verse is OK-ish I guess, but that bridge is a thumb down. I'm not really a fan of breaking the tempo that quickly without any pay-off (back-vocals are nice, tho). I agree that the chorus is a bit of mouth-full. Also, I'd like it more if they just skipped that bridge and went straight into chorus (IMO, it would serve better in this short-rocker). That short manic piano sound after first chorus is a thumb up.

First part of guitar solo and first synth solo is like they've done their homework (not in a positive way). "Look at all these scales and perfectly aligned same-duration notes we made!". Lacks some emotion at least. And about the ending - that really is some great groove but I just can't shake that Russell's thing at the very end. Is it grunting? Speaking? Whatever, you have a voice, you used it in the outro, just end it, man. Less is more.

However, this is a much better album opener comparing to the previous one. (Also, the next song started playing and I must admit, production on that one sounds much better. Will this album be like debut album where every song has its own mastering politics?)
 

MrKnickerbocker

clap hands
Overall, this is a fun, aggressive tune and an outstanding showcase of Sir Russell's talent. A few of you mentioned that he seemed to struggle here, but I didn't hear it. I also don't focus on vocals as much as most do, since I see them as just another instrument. I don't know what the lyrics are about, but let's be honest - Russell could sing a geology textbook and we'd all still be in awe.

Also, the album's liner notes state that the entire band performs backing vocals, so those choirs are more authentic than I thought.
Let's face it, Russell singing a geology textbook would be infinitely deeper than any of the "Allen/......." albums that exist.

Those backing vocals are fine for a recording, I just wish they were lower in the mix to augment the supreme cheesiness.
Verse is OK-ish I guess, but that bridge is a thumb down. I'm not really a fan of breaking the tempo that quickly without any pay-off (back-vocals are nice, tho). I agree that the chorus is a bit of mouth-full. Also, I'd like it more if they just skipped that bridge and went straight into chorus (IMO, it would serve better in this short-rocker). That short manic piano sound after first chorus is a thumb up.

First part of guitar solo and first synth solo is like they've done their homework (not in a positive way). "Look at all these scales and perfectly aligned same-duration notes we made!". Lacks some emotion at least. And about the ending - that really is some great groove but I just can't shake that Russell's thing at the very end. Is it grunting? Speaking? Whatever, you have a voice, you used it in the outro, just end it, man. Less is more.

However, this is a much better album opener comparing to the previous one. (Also, the next song started playing and I must admit, production on that one sounds much better. Will this album be like debut album where every song has its own mastering politics?)
I think without that (admittedly too brief) pre-chorus the song would be very one-dimensional. That shot groove adds a nice layer.

The solos are definitely very modal: here's the key, play some fast scales around it. It works for the neoclassical style, but it's certainly not memorable.

This album is equally as bad as the debut in term's of the individual tracks having zero sonic cohesion in the overall album. As we move into Dressed To Kill, for instance, it seems like the song is 1-2 db lower overall and it's a weird sonic drop from the first track.
 

MrKnickerbocker

clap hands
Dressed To Kill

LYRICS:
Dark desires of the cynic queen
Laughter echoes her name
He feels his breath decay
Opens the past to an empty page
Watch his life drain away

CHORUS:
Arrival, dressed to kill, scarlet memory
Watching and waiting for curtains to fall
Arrival, dressed to kill, it's a tragedy
Could you feel sympathy or pain?

In a desolate room, the canvas bleeds
He slides through his chair
Rendered prince of fools
Dire thoughts of her begotten son
Watch his life drain away
Watch his life fade away

CHORUS x2

[Guitar Solo]

CHORUS x2

  • I definitely prefer this song to the opening track. It's a nice, semi-mid-tempo rocker.
  • The intro is fantastically dynamic. I love the start-stop of the riff and how the rhythm section fills in around it before kicking in fully.
  • The slowed-down, crunchy arpeggio section afterwards and the twisty build-up into the verse is awesome. Rullo's drum dynamics are simple, but wonderful.
  • Russell sounds amazing here. It's our first taste of just how different this band will be with a real singer. His tone in the verses is spectacular.
  • The chorus is much better here, though they rely on it far too much. We don't need five choruses in the song. I like the key shift in the doubled up choruses, but it's just not that good.
  • The return of the crunchy riff before the bridge is cool, as is the guitar and rhythm crescendo into the solos. Romeo's solos are actually really great here and don't overdo the legato shred.
  • The neoclassical section before the return to the chorus is also very cool, as is Romeo's weird little trill/slide at 3:57.
  • Ending on the crunchy riff and pushing into odd metres is pretty neat. Better than just fading out on the chorus or something. I love the first appearance of "growling" Russell during the final "or pain" lyric.
  • It's a simple song, but a good one.
 

Jer

Don’t you be misled by the illusions in your head
Gotta play catch-up, so here’s my first-listen hot take:

Symphony X - Symphony X (1994)
  • Into The Dementia - A reasonably haunting intro that gives way to blues-tinted neoclassical noodling that completely apes Yngwie’s tone and style. The production isn’t very good. Gets the job done satisfactorily, 6/10.
  • The Raging Season - OK riffage. The singer is amateurish, but I’ve heard worse. Ew, those vocal harmonies are not good. The pre-chorus vocal line is pretty good, but that chorus is not working for me at all. Well, that bridge certainly thinks it’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”, but you, sir, are no “Bohemian Rhapsody”. The interlude’s pretty cool, and I like the quick outro. Mixed bag, but more good than bad. 6/10.
  • Premonition - Nice piano opening, and I like the rhythmic play after the synths come in. Nice clean guitar and piano bit. Good vocal line on the verse and I love that effervescent guitar going on in the background. I like the change in feel for the all-too-brief pre-chorus, and then the chorus has a pretty good vocal melody, but poorly executed backing vocals. Mmm, harpsichord. Mmm, sweet legato neoclassical soloing. Cool outro. Well, that was better — let’s say a solid 7/10.
  • Masquerade - Mmm, pipe organ. Sweet neoclassical soloing. Oh, sweet, the pipe organ is staying in it to win it! The vocal lines aren’t working for me here, but the guitar fills are sweet, and I like the way the pre-chorus changes things up. Oh, fuck yes on that pipe organ and guitar interlude, and on the extended solo afterward. Love the descending riff under the second part of the solo. The music on this track is great, but the weaker vocal parts drag it down to a 7/10.
  • Absinthe And Rue - Cool haunting opening. Love the complex riff that follows. Not as enamored of the verse riff, or of any of the vocals here, and the syrupy chorus is the pits. The little staccato interlude is OK, but the smooth interlude that follows is great, as is the heavier interlude and solo section that follow on from there. Hmm, that outro feels out of place. Well, I was going to go lower, but the instrumental sections on this are so good that I think this one clings onto a 7/10.
  • Shades Of Grey - Nice opening, great verse melody. The chorus feels a bit cheesy. Hmm, “The Camera Eye” called and would like its interlude back. Another strong verse, and an OK pre-chorus appears before returning to that somewhat cheesy chorus. Really nice solo section. Ew, modulating the chorus did not help matters. Another mixed bag, probably lands at a 6/10 overall.
  • Taunting The Notorious - Nice intro, nice guitar/bass tradeoff solo. Otherwise a solid but not particularly impressive rocker. 6/10.
  • Rapture Or Pain - I like the challenging rhythm on the guitar line, and the accompanying drumming. Some nice change-ups on the way to the verse. The verse and pre-chorus vocals aren’t the best (though the pre-chorus guitar fills are sweet), but this is probably the most successful chorus of the album so far. Mmm, harpsichord and harmonized guitars. I think the good parts are good enough to hold onto a 7/10 here.
  • Thorns Of Sorrow - Sweet guitar and pipe organ tradeoff intro. Nice driving riff with organ accompaniment. Solid verse. Nice change in feel on the pre-chorus, though it doesn’t totally come together, and then the chorus has backing vocal issues again. The extended vocal harmony bit later on is interesting, but feels like it belongs in a different song. Nice guitar and synth tradeoff solo. Probably does enough to earn a 7/10.
  • A Lesson Before Dying - Nice acoustic opening, strong verse vocal and pre-chorus. The group vocal that follows isn’t quite as successful, but it’s not bad. Pretty good interlude that gets much cooler when the piano and guitar start trading off. This eventually leads into a somewhat cheesy chorus. Ooh, the acoustic bridge after the second chorus is very good, and the harmonized vocal bit crescendos nicely. The jazzy interlude that follows is cool, as is the queasy, crunchier bit after that. Lots of neat instrumental sections keep coming, though the synth-heavy ones verge on carnival music in spots. The final chorus is more successful than the previous ones. Nice, exotic-feeling outro. The music is mostly great and the vocals are mostly successful here, so I think I can round this up to an 8/10.
Average: 6.7/10

Mostly OK-to-good with a pretty great finale. The singer isn’t the best, but when he’s delivering well he reminds me of Michael Vescera, which is probably appropriate because Vescera was Yngwie’s vocalist at the time...LOL.

The production could be better, and the backing vocals are often cringey, but this was better than I expected given all the negative comments I’d seen about the debut.
 

JudasMyGuide

Domini canis
this was better than I expected given all the negative comments I’d seen about the debut.

I agree that it's not as bad as even I sometimes make it look - honestly, if I got into Symph X chronologically and first heard the debut, I'd probably be fine with that, it's more like the rest of their discography is just so much better I don't see the reason to return to this. What I want from the band, the others do better. I like DT's When Dream and Day Unite much more and I still listen to that one once in a blue moon (though slightly more often than this one). On the other hand Kamelot's Siege Perilous, which is also widely disliked, I love anyway even though I came across it after I'd already heard most of their latter, greater work, so I guess it's either me being weird again or even those "early, best forgotten" albums by various bands have a hierarchy of their own.

Anyway, let's jump into the comments:

The Damnation Game

- the intro is great, the particular sound alone makes them really look like Malmsteen copycats, but I don't particularly mind that
- I always kinda mentally skipped this track and the album used to properly start for me with Dressed to Kill. Maybe because I've overplayed the latter a bit, I now appreciate the track much more
- the "pre-chorus" (at 1:12) is the most intriguing part of the song for me, honestly.
- I understand what they tried to do with the chorus, but it doesn't work for me that much. On the other hand, like I said, being less catchy makes it somewhat harder to overplay and get sick of unlike Dressed
- the solos are just OK, but I like how they get back into the intro at 3:38
- that final Russell's attempt at "soul" at 4:05 and beyond, including the very last vocal lines... no, just no. Sorry, but... NO.
 

JudasMyGuide

Domini canis
Dressed to Kill

The first really memorable song on the album, it was also the first to get a bit tired of. The intro riff is great, in fact I really like the whole progression leading to the first verse (with the keys giving this almost church-bells aura to the last part thereof) and I really like Romeo's solo full of blooozy feelings and their following "Burnish unison" (you know what I'm talking about).

The vocals sound more thought-out than on the previous track, but Russell sounded more passionate on the title track, IMHO.

Like I said, the chorus is a bit too ingrained in me to enjoy nowadays (and I don't like the part they do at about 2:43 - I know it's probably supposed to sound a bit off intentionally, but it doesn't do it for me and in this transposed version it's more jarring to me - it's just awkward tension with no proper resolution, again, IMHO), unlike some of the latter stuff that I can keep on repeat for pretty much forever (just for the record - I know I spoke harshly about V before, but the short songs there are absolutely stellar), though I really like the build-up from the pre-chorus - such a typical Symph X melodic moment.

All in all, some good stuff, but to me they still didn't quite get their mojo working until the following album.
 

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
We launch directly into Symphony X's second album with little build up, just guitar noodling atop some pretty fiery keys. Rullo really does a good job building things up with his drums, before we launch into the main riff of "The Damnation Game". Oh wait, that's not a riff. It's a guitar solo that acts in place of the riff. The first thing that really strikes me about this song - aside from the much better production - is that it's pure, unadulterated, unabashed power metal. Very rapid, in-and-out affair intended to pump you up.

The synths get very atmospheric in the verses; at first I actually thought the guitar had dropped out entirely, but it was just masked by the synths. Now I love Russell, he's a Top 5 vocalist for me at this point, but this song is not a good showcase of his talents. He really feels like a hired hand asked to sing for a friend's record, and since he typically writes his own vocal melodies, he sounds really off when Romeo does that instead. I'd give him a passing score overall on this song, it's not like he fails completely, it just doesn't suit him. That said, it's pretty cool when he dips into some more guttural territory in places during this one, and the high note in the second verse - wow. So this is life without Rod. God bless us, everyone.

This song has some interesting switch-ups in the way it runs from the pretty fast and up tempo verse, into the slower pre-chorus (which internally has its own switch-up as well), and then back to speed with the chorus. I do kind of see a maze or something like that when I listen to the song, particularly in the pre-chorus. The problem is again that Russell can't seem to find his footing amidst Romeo's wanderings. I'd say that the chorus is too fast for him, but really it's just because he wasn't able to really find his fit in Symphony X just yet. Not on this song at least. Some others on here are much better for him, and on The Divine Wings of Tragedy he'll be nailing it with every song.

There's a cool balance between the keys and the guitar in the instrumental section. Romeo is just showing off in his first solo, it's nothing but noodling. Pinnella has a much more interesting solo thereafter, I quite like it, and Romeo redeems himself with his second solo right after that. It's much better orchestrated and I quite like the little twists and turns he throws in. The song closes with a heavier section after the third chorus reprise, and it's cool and all, but Russell's "damn... damn... damn...nation game!" ought to be a meme. It sounds hilariously off. I love you Russ, but no.

This song is proof that Rod wasn't the sole problem with the debut. Romeo and the gang really needed to find out where they belonged, and just having better production and a WAY BETTER SINGER isn't going to solve that. This song isn't even up there with the three best from the debut. I'd say it's just slightly above average. Decent power metal but a poor intro for Russell.
 

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
Okay but now we're really getting somewhere. The intro to "Dressed to Kill" is fucking awesome. Romeo's riff is cool as hell, and Pinnella and Rullo gradually add in synths and drums to create a nice shade for the song. As the riff gets further backing those synths really add layers to the overall vibe. It really sounds like a rider traversing Arabia, and then when it changes and goes into that chugging section it's as if he's finally arrived, under the cloak of night, at the town he's been looking for. And god that chug is literally my shit. The way Romeo keeps building up in intensity is awesome.

Now Russell still isn't perfect here, but on this song he really starts bringing in the theatrics. He narrates it like a young showman starting to work his way up the ranks. I love the way the synths keep building up the atmosphere in the verses. It's like a rising sandstorm hanging on in the distance. The chorus isn't really anything brilliant, but it is quite memorable, and that makes all the difference. The noodling fully starts in the interlude between chorus 1 and verse 2. Oh boy, Romeo's been getting antsy, hasn't he? The key change in for the "watch his life fade away" section is quite nice and hints at the nostalgic, but not in quite the same fashion as the intro in "A Lesson Before Dying". I also did that key change in the second chorus reprise. Nice.

The build up to the solos is really cool, seems very thought-out and reminds me of building moments in film scores. Romeo is struggling to decide if he wants to go full noodle-master during his solo or if he should reign it in. He seems to fine a very uncomfortable balance between the two. All I penciled in for Pinnella's section is "Pinnella moment" so there you have it. It's a Pinnella moment. Chorus again and then the outro lets Rullo go complete ham on the kit. My mans is killin' it.

This song doesn't always get it right, but it's catchy, fun, and has a real flair for the atmospheric that I love, particularly in that intro. I'd say it's the best song we've gone through thus far. A lovely romp through Middle Eastern tapestries.
 

MrKnickerbocker

clap hands
Gotta play catch-up, so here’s my first-listen hot take:

Symphony X - Symphony X (1994)
  • Into The Dementia - A reasonably haunting intro that gives way to blues-tinted neoclassical noodling that completely apes Yngwie’s tone and style. The production isn’t very good. Gets the job done satisfactorily, 6/10.
  • The Raging Season - OK riffage. The singer is amateurish, but I’ve heard worse. Ew, those vocal harmonies are not good. The pre-chorus vocal line is pretty good, but that chorus is not working for me at all. Well, that bridge certainly thinks it’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”, but you, sir, are no “Bohemian Rhapsody”. The interlude’s pretty cool, and I like the quick outro. Mixed bag, but more good than bad. 6/10.
  • Premonition - Nice piano opening, and I like the rhythmic play after the synths come in. Nice clean guitar and piano bit. Good vocal line on the verse and I love that effervescent guitar going on in the background. I like the change in feel for the all-too-brief pre-chorus, and then the chorus has a pretty good vocal melody, but poorly executed backing vocals. Mmm, harpsichord. Mmm, sweet legato neoclassical soloing. Cool outro. Well, that was better — let’s say a solid 7/10.
  • Masquerade - Mmm, pipe organ. Sweet neoclassical soloing. Oh, sweet, the pipe organ is staying in it to win it! The vocal lines aren’t working for me here, but the guitar fills are sweet, and I like the way the pre-chorus changes things up. Oh, fuck yes on that pipe organ and guitar interlude, and on the extended solo afterward. Love the descending riff under the second part of the solo. The music on this track is great, but the weaker vocal parts drag it down to a 7/10.
  • Absinthe And Rue - Cool haunting opening. Love the complex riff that follows. Not as enamored of the verse riff, or of any of the vocals here, and the syrupy chorus is the pits. The little staccato interlude is OK, but the smooth interlude that follows is great, as is the heavier interlude and solo section that follow on from there. Hmm, that outro feels out of place. Well, I was going to go lower, but the instrumental sections on this are so good that I think this one clings onto a 7/10.
  • Shades Of Grey - Nice opening, great verse melody. The chorus feels a bit cheesy. Hmm, “The Camera Eye” called and would like its interlude back. Another strong verse, and an OK pre-chorus appears before returning to that somewhat cheesy chorus. Really nice solo section. Ew, modulating the chorus did not help matters. Another mixed bag, probably lands at a 6/10 overall.
  • Taunting The Notorious - Nice intro, nice guitar/bass tradeoff solo. Otherwise a solid but not particularly impressive rocker. 6/10.
  • Rapture Or Pain - I like the challenging rhythm on the guitar line, and the accompanying drumming. Some nice change-ups on the way to the verse. The verse and pre-chorus vocals aren’t the best (though the pre-chorus guitar fills are sweet), but this is probably the most successful chorus of the album so far. Mmm, harpsichord and harmonized guitars. I think the good parts are good enough to hold onto a 7/10 here.
  • Thorns Of Sorrow - Sweet guitar and pipe organ tradeoff intro. Nice driving riff with organ accompaniment. Solid verse. Nice change in feel on the pre-chorus, though it doesn’t totally come together, and then the chorus has backing vocal issues again. The extended vocal harmony bit later on is interesting, but feels like it belongs in a different song. Nice guitar and synth tradeoff solo. Probably does enough to earn a 7/10.
  • A Lesson Before Dying - Nice acoustic opening, strong verse vocal and pre-chorus. The group vocal that follows isn’t quite as successful, but it’s not bad. Pretty good interlude that gets much cooler when the piano and guitar start trading off. This eventually leads into a somewhat cheesy chorus. Ooh, the acoustic bridge after the second chorus is very good, and the harmonized vocal bit crescendos nicely. The jazzy interlude that follows is cool, as is the queasy, crunchier bit after that. Lots of neat instrumental sections keep coming, though the synth-heavy ones verge on carnival music in spots. The final chorus is more successful than the previous ones. Nice, exotic-feeling outro. The music is mostly great and the vocals are mostly successful here, so I think I can round this up to an 8/10.
Average: 6.7/10

Mostly OK-to-good with a pretty great finale. The singer isn’t the best, but when he’s delivering well he reminds me of Michael Vescera, which is probably appropriate because Vescera was Yngwie’s vocalist at the time...LOL.

The production could be better, and the backing vocals are often cringey, but this was better than I expected given all the negative comments I’d seen about the debut.
With a review like this, you are bound to love the later material! It’s awesome to see someone going through this discography for the first time.


I agree that it's not as bad as even I sometimes make it look - honestly, if I got into Symph X chronologically and first heard the debut, I'd probably be fine with that, it's more like the rest of their discography is just so much better I don't see the reason to return to this. What I want from the band, the others do better. I like DT's When Dream and Day Unite much more and I still listen to that one once in a blue moon (though slightly more often than this one). On the other hand Kamelot's Siege Perilous, which is also widely disliked, I love anyway even though I came across it after I'd already heard most of their latter, greater work, so I guess it's either me being weird again or even those "early, best forgotten" albums by various bands have a hierarchy of their own.
I put all of these albums in the same category: interesting, but unmemorable and not very good. Kamelot’s is the most interesting because it still featured Roy Khan (and is technically their third album)! He just doesn’t fit with the band yet at all because the band didn’t really know what it was (identity crisis is kind of something Kamelot has always struggled with).

The confidence in said material is also an interesting study: Symphony X and Kamelot never even reference these songs anymore (almost like they didn’t exist), whereas Dream Theater played songs from WDADU forever live.

- that final Russell's attempt at "soul" at 4:05 and beyond, including the very last vocal lines... no, just no. Sorry, but... NO.
The song closes with a heavier section after the third chorus reprise, and it's cool and all, but Russell's "damn... damn... damn...nation game!" ought to be a meme. It sounds hilariously off. I love you Russ, but no.

Alright, I’m not gonna say it’s great, but I do think this is the first moment where we hear Russell and not just some guy singing for Michael Romeo’s band.


Dressed to Kill

The first really memorable song on the album, it was also the first to get a bit tired of. The intro riff is great, in fact I really like the whole progression leading to the first verse (with the keys giving this almost church-bells aura to the last part thereof) and I really like Romeo's solo full of blooozy feelings and their following "Burnish unison" (you know what I'm talking about).
Okay but now we're really getting somewhere. The intro to "Dressed to Kill" is fucking awesome. Romeo's riff is cool as hell, and Pinnella and Rullo gradually add in synths and drums to create a nice shade for the song. As the riff gets further backing those synths really add layers to the overall vibe. It really sounds like a rider traversing Arabia, and then when it changes and goes into that chugging section it's as if he's finally arrived, under the cloak of night, at the town he's been looking for. And god that chug is literally my shit. The way Romeo keeps building up in intensity is awesome.
The more I listen to it, the more I think that the strongest part of this song is the intro. It sets the template for a lot of the dynamic riffs and rhythm section interplay the band will do in the future.
 

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
Alright, I’m not gonna say it’s great, but I do think this is the first moment where we hear Russell and not just some guy singing for Michael Romeo’s band.
You're not even wrong, but it's still just really funny to me. Don't worry, pretty soon I'll be doing a lot more praising of his little soulful ad libs. This is just an early attempt at them that doesn't quite work - although I honestly wouldn't take it out because again, it's so funny.
 

Detective Beauregard

Independent as a hog on ice
Dressed to Kill is a massive improvement over the opening track - and I like the opening track! This song is only slightly slower, but it's groovier and more powerful overall. I would even include this amongst my favorite "rockers" of the band's early years.
  • A classic Symphony X-style slightly thrashy riff starts things off, and while the riff itself is nothing unique, it sets itself apart from the opener by being a completely different style.
  • The distorted arpeggiated chords ooze with flavor, and the chunkiness really sets up the next section nicely. In it, a simple harmonic minor motif is played four times - once with a drum build-up, again in 6/8, again in 3/4, and finally in 3/4 but doubling the notes and thus intensifying the feel. It's great. I'm a big fan of bands changing the groove of a riff but keeping the meter otherwise intact, as it changes the entire feel of the section. This is a simple example, and the band uses this many times in the future for greater effect.
  • I love the verses in this song, as they have a haunting tone with the eerie strings in the background. I also love the vocal melodies, which as @Diesel 11 pointed out, contain an Eastern feel. Russell just sounds so damn good here! This verse is in Cm, and while it would have made a ton of sense for Thomas Miller to have used the 5-string here for depth, I don't think he did.
  • The chorus, while not outright catchy, is loads stronger than the previous track's. What stands out to me the most here is the overall power in Russell's voice - something that's amplified when it modulates a step and a half up on the third and fifth occurrences (from Fm to Abm). I think this modulation should have been saved until the end of the song for the "omg is he really hitting those notes?!" factor, but it's not a huge deal.
  • Romeo's harmonizing of himself in the next section is cool, but notable to me for containing another modulation - this time of the intro's harmonic minor motif, from Ebm to Cm.
  • The second verse is just as interesting as the first (the harmonies on those melodies are delightful) - but now it's in Dm. Symphony X loves to modulate like it's going out of style, and I love them all the more for it. After I started listening to them on a regular basis, I'd get bored halfway through other bands' songs that tiredly drone on and on in the same key. I've been spoiled.
  • The interlude brings the harmonic minor motif back, this time in Gm. I also love the buildup of the dynamic staccato chords as the guitar solos nears. The guitar plays the motif four times and then starts playing the start/stop chords, but the bass keeps playing the motif and eventually joins in with the guitar. It almost sounds random, but it's not. How glorious!
    • The solo is solid, and reminds me of some of Romeo's work from The Dark Chapter. His sense of melody here is greater than it's usually been until this point, as the solo is less wanky than others. His legato playing is so buttery. I also like the simple yet effective bass fill halfway through.
    • The unison is from Bach's Prelude in C minor (BWV 847) from The Well-Tempered Clavier (Book 1, 1722). Thanks Wikipedia! The band would go on to emulate this style in many of their pre-final-chorus unisons - some from famous classical works, others not. I think it's an interesting way to truly blend classical music and metal, and words can't express how much I miss these days when I hear the band's more recent material.
  • The ending is cool because Rullo. He got the green light to do stuff, and he kills it. I think the section could have lasted a bit longer, but I'm not dissatisfied.
This is just a cool song, even if it is overshadowed on this album by a few epic tracks to come. The band would go on to write many more songs in this style, but this is a true classic. It's easily one of the highlights of the album for me. It's also one of the few songs that the band had played live well into the 2000s (I believe they alternated this and the title track on the 2008 leg of the Paradise Lost tour, but it may have been earlier than that).

The confidence in said material is also an interesting study: Symphony X and Kamelot never even reference these songs anymore (almost like they didn’t exist), whereas Dream Theater played songs from WDADU forever live.
Dream Theater can afford to take more risks because they are a much more popular band, and a lot of their fans are "lifers" who will eat up anything they play. Conversely, Kamelot and (especially) Symphony X won't take the risk of playing what they believe isn't their catchiest material for fear of missing out on grabbing a new audience. It's why 90% of a typical Symphony X set is from their last three albums. While this is true of Kamelot, as well, at least Symphony X's recent material (while different from their previous works) is still good.
 
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Jer

Don’t you be misled by the illusions in your head
“The Damnation Game”:

Well, the production is a significant step up right out of the gate. Mmm, yummy scales and harpsichord dancing over those chord changes. That bass fill was a little weird, but then we’re back to the good stuff.

When the vocals come in the singer sounds a little shaky. Those synth pads and the vocal melody approach just scream Yngwie Malmsteen. Nice rhythmic change-ups, but then here come the questionable vocal harmonies. They’re not as bad as on the debut, but they’re not great. Nice ongoing chord changes through the chorus.

Nice little interlude, and the group “ohs” actually work pretty well here. Hmm, I can’t decide if I like or dislike the group vocal on “tru-u-u-u-ue”.

Nice transition into the darker riff under the solo. Mmm, yes, guitar/synth tradeoff solos, and then some sweet harpsichord accompaniment on a neoclassical lead before a classy exit to the chorus.

The singer chews up the scenery a bit at the end of the chorus, but I really like that computery harmonized soloing afterward. Oh, apparently this song is actually titled “The Dim, Dim, Dim, Dim Nation Game”. Hmm.

This song is OK-to-good. The pre-chorus phrasing is kind of awkward, and not all of the parts work, but large sections of it are quite good. Let’s say a robust 6/10.

“Dressed To Kill”:

An aggressive riff trades off with some synth pads before morphing into dueling riffs instead. The clean accompaniment is nice, before getting into some rhythmic play.

The verse melody doesn’t do much for me, but the chorus is a step up. Nice harmonized guitar fill. The second verse seems to work better, and the pre-chorus is surprising and pretty cool with the backing vocals. Hmm, I’m not sure that chorus modulation was necessary, but that final held vocal note is pretty impressive.

The synchronized percussion and synth hits are a bit weird, but then we’re back into solo-y goodness. Mmm, more harpsichord. Yes, please. The chorus modulation seems to work out better the second time — maybe they should have just held off and only done it the one time at the end. Nice percussive outro.

Well, that was solidly good with only a few minor blemishes — let’s say 7/10.
 

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
Symphony X is pretty much just Ronnie James Dio joining Yngwie Malmsteen for prog metal, so that seems like much of it is up your alley! Your score for "The Damnation Game" is exactly my own.
 
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MrKnickerbocker

clap hands
Dressed to Kill is a massive improvement over the opening track - and I like the opening track! This song is only slightly slower, but it's groovier and more powerful overall. I would even include this amongst my favorite "rockers" of the band's early years.
  • I love the verses in this song, as they have a haunting tone with the eerie strings in the background. I also love the vocal melodies, which as @Diesel 11 pointed out, contain an Eastern feel. Russell just sounds so damn good here! This verse is in Cm, and while it would have made a ton of sense for Thomas Miller to have used the 5-string here for depth, I don't think he did.
  • The chorus, while not outright catchy, is loads stronger than the previous track's. What stands out to me the most here is the overall power in Russell's voice - something that's amplified when it modulates a step and a half up on the third and fifth occurrences (from Fm to Abm). I think this modulation should have been saved until the end of the song for the "omg is he really hitting those notes?!" factor, but it's not a huge deal.
  • Romeo's harmonizing of himself in the next section is cool, but notable to me for containing another modulation - this time of the intro's harmonic minor motif, from Ebm to Cm.
  • The second verse is just as interesting as the first (the harmonies on those melodies are delightful) - but now it's in Dm. Symphony X loves to modulate like it's going out of style, and I love them all the more for it. After I started listening to them on a regular basis, I'd get bored halfway through other bands' songs that tiredly drone on and on in the same key. I've been spoiled.
  • The interlude brings the harmonic minor motif back, this time in Gm.

:notworthy: My interest in these types of musical nerd facts must be what sports fans enjoy about stats.

“The Damnation Game”:

This song is OK-to-good. The pre-chorus phrasing is kind of awkward, and not all of the parts work, but large sections of it are quite good. Let’s say a robust 6/10.

“Dressed To Kill”:

The second verse seems to work better, and the pre-chorus is surprising and pretty cool with the backing vocals. Hmm, I’m not sure that chorus modulation was necessary, but that final held vocal note is pretty impressive.

Well, that was solidly good with only a few minor blemishes — let’s say 7/10.

As @Detective Beauregard said - the second verse is in Dm (a step higher than the first verse). Must be a better key for Russell?

Curious to see your ratings in about the same place as the debut. I think these two tracks are a big step up, but I've also heard them 1,000 times before. I'm very excited to see your progression through the discography.

Symphony X is pretty much just Ronnie James Dio joining Yngwie Malmsteen for prog metal, so that seems like much of it is up your alley! Your score for "The Damnation Game" is exactly my own.
The fast songs on this record (and some that follow) are definitely that. I think Russell comes into his voice a lot on the next few albums and quickly becomes way more than a Dio clone, unlike someone like Jorn Lande who just rode that clone town to bone town. What? IDK. Bye.
 

MrKnickerbocker

clap hands
The Edge of Forever

LYRICS
Pictures of what used to be,
Lie in pieces on the floor
Finds himself in an empty room,
Her voice calls out to him
He opens the door, but there's no one there
No one there...

[Keyboard Solo]
[Guitar Solo]
[Keyboard Solo]
[Guitar Solo]

Draped in a silken glow of moonlight
Through the mist I see, a lucid cathedral appears to me
Pray for a glimpse of touch of sunlight
Chain our shadow down, night settles in, my love,
You never make a sound

Love is flowing from my fingertips
Never in control of this domain
All around me, my essence lay
Watch the vultures circle through the pouring rain

CHORUS:
Close your eyes - and try to remember
Discordant lullabies of days gone by
Close your eyes - on the edge of forever
A chance to dream, fast asleep your nightmare ends

As the walls converge around me
Castles crumbling down, everything is not
As it seems to be
Once more, I feel I must return
No more will my soul burn
Dawn breaks the ground, my love
And with it you fade away

CHORUS

[Bigger Guitar Solo]

CHORUS
Oh my love, live again!
  • The intro is absolutely beautiful. Melancholy acoustic arpeggios backed up by shifting bass and drum tones, leading us into a magical world of dreams. The keyboard accents are so light they're barely there.
  • The drums pick up and the bass goes absolutely ham on a cool, jazzy line. Then Thomas Miller tosses a tiny fill in before the guitar and keyboard interplay.
  • That interplay, by the way, may be one of my favorite Symphony X moments of all time. It's a simple thing, and it is simply gorgeous. This and the subsequent heavy section with piano could go on another 30 seconds and I'd be even happier.
  • We break everything down and introduce Sir Russell Fucking Allen Showing You What He's Capable Of (ft. Mike Pinnelz). Russell's soft tone here, is storytelling, his passion is palpable. This is the first moment where you realize that Mikey Romez found himself an actual singer. These lines weren't written by him, he was hired to do a job, and damn if he doesn't deserve overtime pay for this recording.
  • Thomas Miller just shows up real quick to remind you he's an absolute beast. Cue the greatest bass fill in SX's discography.
  • Everything breaks down to Romeo's chugging guitar and Pinnella's piano ushers us into the real drive of the song. God, I love this shit. I'd mainline it like heroin. Fuck the heroin, just give me this song.
  • At 2:35 the entire world explodes and you remember you're listening to a metal band! Some absolutely fire playing from everyone involved. Sure, the solos are pretty stock, but it just doesn't matter here.
  • The final guitar wail into the keyboard-driven melodic section is just awesome. And then...we break it all down again! It shouldn't work so well, but this is the first time the band realizes how good they are as a unit.
  • The second "verse" is slinky and it feels like Russell is creeping across a field just doing cool shit. The double tracked octave vocals here are an interesting touch. I don't know if we ever hear that technique used again so obviously. Also: cue his first successful soulful crooning!
  • The reason you can hear all this, of course, is because of the beautiful open space in the composition. Every instrument gets to showcase itself because there is so much room to breathe in the music. It's just wonderful.
  • I love the small transition into a darker tonality around 4:30 before the slithery guitar riff comes in.
  • Romeo's pre-chorus guitar lead is really nice and melodic.
  • The absolutely ridiculous transition into the chorus is not my favorite, but the chorus is so strong that it doesn't matter. This is definitely the band's first truly strong chorus. Russell sounds great and the slinky guitar and bass (and double bass) run between the lyrics is stellar. The last line and melody of the chorus isn't perfect, but it's alright. Also, yeah, that's a chorus showing up more than halfway through the song. Prog!
  • We return to the piano driven melodic line from earlier but this time there's no call and response with Romeo, just Miller doing mad fills in the background. That emptiness is felt and it's really neat.
  • I think Russell's only flaw in this song is the way he sings "everything" in the bridge. But the rest is so good that I don't care. "No more will my soul burn" is killer. Bring on the Dio!
  • The backing vocals work way better in this song. They seemed to be mixed a little lower, but that could just be because there's no sonic room for anything else when Russell is slaying so hard.
  • Rullo's drum fill out of the second chorus is my least favorite instrumental moment here. It feels like they had zero transition and just said, "go at it, Jason!" It's a minor thing, though, considering Rullo is beyond awesome throughout this entire track. I don't talk about him enough because he's so well-integrated into the song that he doesn't shift my focus (a la Portnoy). Love that guy.
  • Romeo's big solo is really good, even in the wanking spots. He has another Romeo catchphrase at 7:25-29. We'll hear this many more times. The key change in the middle of the solo is neat. Great guitar playing here. Too much of it, but great.
  • We end the song with another chorus and a big epic finale, with Russell chewing some scenery like a pro.
  • This is the first great Symphony X song. It's a triumph. It stands up to their later material and has a quality (and a sparseness) not found on much of their later material. A true masterpiece.
 

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
Man I loved reading that. I don't know if I'll actually have as many positives to say as you do but I loved reading through them.

Everything breaks down to Romeo's chugging guitar and Pinnella's piano ushers us into the real drive of the song. God, I love this shit. I'd mainline it like heroin. Fuck the heroin, just give me this song.
I literally cropped this line out and sent it to my girlfriend. This is exactly what I try to get across when I hear something I like. Nightwish and Symphony X both like to do these riffs and have a high guitar thingy come out of nowhere and I have no idea what it's called but it's like juggajuggajuggajuWOOOEEEEbumbunnabumbunnabumWOOOOIIIIdundunna and they both like to drop the instruments out and let the heavy ass guitar have some breathing room and I have no idea if that's actual musical skill or just showing up but it's like, goddamn smash that shit right into my skull bro.

So I, in the highest of keys, completely relate to this sentiment and I love the way you said it.

This is definitely the band's first truly strong chorus.
Wow, it's almost like you've forgotten that "Shades of Grey" exists. :halo:

considering Rullo is beyond awesome throughout this entire track. I don't talk about him enough because he's so well-integrated into the song that he doesn't shift my focus (a la Portnoy). Love that guy.
Yes, yes!!! Goddamn you are spitting fire today. This is exactly what I've concluded about Rullo except not so well expressed. When I first listened to Symphony X I literally could give less of a shit that he wasn't on Twilight in Olympus. LC was all "thank GOD Rullo has returned" in his V review and I was thinking, "Okay. Yeah. Good."

But the more I listened to Symphony X the more I started really paying attention to the drumming and the man is an absolute beast, but he's subtle as hell. You really don't realize the mad skills he's showing off until you've listened to these albums a decent amount of times. Like you said, he's so well-integrated into the mixture that you don't even notice it at first. That's one thing I love about Symphony X, they really require time to win you over. It's complex enough that you don't realize it's as good as it is on first listen, but good enough that you recognize you want to return. And when you return you find out that oh my god these guys are terrific.

Anyway. Loved that post.
 
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