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
    20

Spambot

Ancient Mariner
The Haunting

Instant drama right at the beginning! Thumb up! I don't mind the synth sound that much, since it's not that "up-in-your-face". That Romeo riff, yes, more of that please. I know that there has been discussion where the guy said he doesn't like being boxed into "heavy-metal" category, but damn it man, don't make riffs that heavy then! I actually like the synth sound from 0:57, it has that cheap but eastern-ish feel that I really adore. I don't really care about Romeo's solo after the synth but that break is really interesting. It's a shame it ends kind of abrubtly.

The verses are actually great. They're kind of simplistic, that double bass drum and simplistic synth is actually a nice change to a usually cluttered songs. It just feels very... breathable? I wouldn't say the chorus is catchy, probably more "easy memorable" because that can be both positive and negative term. Catchy feels more optimistic but this one is just memorable, like I wish you had some other melody in your head (the same situation happened with Shades of Grey on previous album and that wasn't a thumb-up scenario).

That small guitar riff at the end of the verses is actually my favorite thing about this song. It's resonated really melancholic and I wish chorus continued in the same matter. The whole solo section from 3:38 will sound probably really interesting once I know the song by ear. On these couple of listens it has this chaotic structure that I can't really grasp. The outro is actually OK-ish, I like how it repeats certain parts of the song but not in a forceful way.

Haven't heard Miller for some time now. I miss that guy.
 

MrKnickerbocker

clap hands
I actually think The Haunting is the "hidden gem" of this album. It's far from perfect, but it has a lot of great ideas, and even some soundscapes that the band rarely ventures into.
  • Perhaps I'm in the minority here, but I really like the verses of this song. I actually think they're among the catchiest vocal melodies of the album. I love the way Pinnella's piano accents the melody at the halfway point, and how Romeo's guitar hits those Bm chords on the backbeat. These are subtle things, but they really bring out the emotion in the vocals. The only thing I don't care for is the "thrashy" 16th note chugga-chugga; this band is far more creative than that.
I do agree that it's kind of a hidden gem. I don't love it, but it is an interesting and fun song.

Maybe I didn't explain fully, but I also love the verse vocal melodies (except for that third line where Russell stretches too far). The second verse in particular is supremely catchy and feels like Russell is really "at home" with the melody.
Paradise Lost may be the most consistent of the three, but it is by far the most un-Symphony X album they've ever done in terms of songwriting.
So far in this discography deep dive, I'm actually realizing that Symphony X have always written more traditional songs styles. Sure, every album until PL has 1 or 2 big, epic, structure-less behemoths, but so far the majority of the songs we've delved into are very standard. They might start with 1.5 minutes of wanking, but in the end they're all basically "intro-verse-pre-chorus-chorus-verse-chorus-solo-chorus-outro".
“Whispers”:

This one’s really strong and flirts with greatness in a number of places with only nitpicky weaknesses. I could probably round this up to an 8/10.

“The Haunting”:

Lots of cool parts in this song, especially some of the unusual chord progressions and melodic choices, but the vocal phrasing suffers a bit and I don’t think all of the odd choices work well. Still a pretty strong 7/10 overall.
I might round both up by a point or so, but overall I agree with your points.
I really like The Haunting because it deviates from the typical Symphony X formula a bit. There’s always one or two songs per album that kinda go off the beaten path and I tend to enjoy those, although they don’t get discussed as much. I forget about them myself, but I enjoy them when I hear them.

I actually love the outro. The polyrhythms of the guitar riff and keyboard mixed with the drum solo is a really cool touch and is, well, haunting. The only criticism I have is that I don’t care for fade outs.
I completely agree that these types of songs usually get overlooked in favor of the epics or the shredders, but are always more interesting when I return to the albums.

The outro could've worked, I think, if there was just more of a connection between the insane drum solo and the guitar/bass rhythm. This kind of thing can work (Portnoy's done it at least 5-10 times), but it just feels kind of amateurish here.
The Haunting

Haven't heard Miller for some time now. I miss that guy.
He shall return! (I think).
 

Mosh

Winner of the 2020 Dumbest Comment Ever Award
Staff member
MrKnickerbocker said:
So far in this discography deep dive, I'm actually realizing that Symphony X have always written more traditional songs styles. Sure, every album until PL has 1 or 2 big, epic, structure-less behemoths, but so far the majority of the songs we've delved into are very standard. They might start with 1.5 minutes of wanking, but in the end they're all basically "intro-verse-pre-chorus-chorus-verse-chorus-solo-chorus-outro".
This is the sort of thing that tends to make me put Symphony X in the power metal/neo-classical box more often than the prog box. Not to mention those standard song forms are accompanied by power metal traits like fast tempos, 16th note chugging, and Dio inspired vocals. And although the production is pretty flat, some of the riffing is extremely heavy, even on this early material.

As far as the epics go, even those are pretty straightforward in form and a lot of the breaks between sections are for soloing moments rather than compositional material.
 

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
So far in this discography deep dive, I'm actually realizing that Symphony X have always written more traditional songs styles. Sure, every album until PL has 1 or 2 big, epic, structure-less behemoths, but so far the majority of the songs we've delved into are very standard. They might start with 1.5 minutes of wanking, but in the end they're all basically "intro-verse-pre-chorus-chorus-verse-chorus-solo-chorus-outro".
I think @Mosh said this a while back: Symphony X are incredibly formulaic. But that was a serious part of their charm. Since PL they're still formulaic but adding too little of what made them as great as they were from TDWOT to TO. They've changed their whole perspective of why they want to make music and it's... disappointing.
 

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
Ladies and gentlemen, enter Sir Russell Allen. This is the first Symphony X song where he really makes it as good as it is. Therefore it is my honor to award "The Haunting" with the renowned Russell Takes It to 11 medal. There will be a lot more songs down the road given that honor, and this is just a shadow of what's to come.

The song opens with a lovely keyboard intro and the rhythm section groovily comes in behind it. Really moody and atmospheric way to open the song. Romeo comes in and then in a spiral that reminds me of Nightwish's Oceanborn, throws us into a really killer riff. Unfortunately, there's a keyboard / guitar solo duel right after and it's a bit disappointing because I wanted that riff to get some breathing riff. But then Russell comes in and leads us into a really nice verse. The chorus takes some getting used to, but Russell makes it work. The ending note is terrific, and I'm pretty sure it was repurposed in "A Fool's Paradise" from V. "Scars will fade but never DIIIIIIIIE!" vs. "Is this the final setting SUUUUUUN?" This song is definitely his best performance yet.

The solo feels kind of 'haunting', but also, it's just a typical Symphony X guitar solo. The final chorus reprise is awesome. Russell fucking NAILS that ending man. The fade-out works and brings us to a satisfying close.

The song has weaknesses but the strengths are damn great. Russell outdoes Romeo at last.

Russell Takes It to 11:
Recipient #1.
 

MrKnickerbocker

clap hands
Secrets

LYRICS
Deep within a tiny box
Shadowed truth under the locks
Burns inside your heart
Then it starts

PRE-CHORUS
Your soul stretched on the rack
The straw that breaks the back
Watch the make-up crack...

CHORUS
Got no peace of mind, now you're going blind
Secrets within, living in sin
No one needs to know, watch the cancer grow
Feel it eating - secrets within

Secrets hurt if they are told
Someone's trust you will have sold
Don't tell a soul
Hear the cry inside of you
Live the lie or speak the truth
Oh, when will it end?

PRE-CHORUS
CHORUS
Secrets within your mind

[Keyboard/Guitar Solo]
[Keyboard and Guitar Solos]

CHORUS
  • Another tune that kicks off with a really creepy piano section and some nice bass and drum work! Way to lean back, Romeo! This feels more simplistic by far than the previous song, but still cool. Pinnella is killin' the church vibes.
  • Romeo's verse riff is pretty cool, if pretty unmemorable. Nice playing, nice rhythm, but not exceptional.
  • The vocal melodies in this song are...not great. Russell doesn't even sound very good (in either performance or production). The first verse feels incredibly sophomoric to me in terms of metre and structure.
  • I don't like the pre-chorus. Music is fine, but once again the vocal melody hurts it.
  • The chorus is average over all. The 2nd and 4th lines, however, are so fucking cool and it is 100% because of Rullo's shifting drum patterns that change the flow. Honestly this is one of the most memorable things on this album for me.
  • The riff following the chorus at 1:31 is awesome! I wish they expanded more on this tonality than the verse riff. Rullo's drumming once again enhances it.
  • Russell sounds better in the second verse, as he hams it up in pure Dio fashion. I still don't rank this song highly in terms of his performance, though.
  • I do like the break into the bridge section a lot! It feels like the song hits a wall, with Russell and Miller showing up to help out.
  • The bridge is freaking cool. I feel like Romeo and Pinnella don't unison frequently and it sounds amazing. Very melodic, very classical. The trade-off solos that follow aren't up to par, mostly cause of Pinnella's Casio buzzsaw tones. It ends really nicely, though.
  • I also like the half-time section led by backing vocals and also wish they had expanded on this!
  • Another chorus is another chorus! Rullo still kills it.
  • I actually like this outro! We just keep modulating around that heavy riff (I'm sure @Detective Beauregard will tell us to and from which keys) and the fade out works fine.
  • In terms of recording quality, this one kinda feels like it was a demo that they polished up and decided to throw on the record for time.
 

Detective Beauregard

Independent as a hog on ice
Ah, so here we have Secrets. This song is pretty unique in Symphony X's discography for being mostly in a triplet feel (the next track to do so doesn't pop up until Twilight in Olympus, and it's a better song). There are some things to like here, but to me a lot of it feels hastily thrown together.
  • The intro is pretty neat. It's just Pinnella using an organ and choir patch while Rullo plays a tribal-sounding beat in the aformentioned triplet feel. I feel like this section could have added more layers, though.
  • The riff that drops in is pretty stock for Symphony X, complete with end-of-riff run (although I do like the syncopated staccato stops). This riff also forms the verse, and I think it enters too soon. Russell's first two lines sound fine, but then we get him holding notes out over music that is also ringing out, which isn't great writing to my ears. It just sounds like it needs more. Anyway, the verses of this song are all in Cm, and it's odd that they don't ever change.
  • The pre-chorus changes the song's feel completely, and musically it's pretty barebones outside of the creepy music box (or some other tuned idiophone, but I'm going to refer to it as a music box) keyboard. I don't necessarily mind it, and Russell at least sounds unique here. But still, it's missing something.
  • This chorus gets my vote for one of the weakest the band has ever written. Maybe it just doesn't click with me, but it fails to move me in any way. The second half of the chorus calls back the intro with the tribal beat, but it's not enough to save it.
    • The brief neoclassical riff following the first chorus brings back the music box creepiness and is all around a catchy section. I just wish it lasted longer. The modulation halfway through to a half-step down is also interesting, and foreshadows the outro.
  • The second verse is far stronger than the first - it comes out of the gate swinging, and Russell sounds better when he gets higher in the second half. It still suffers from feeling empty as it transitions back into the pre-chorus, though. The music here is too open and the vocals hang too far back.
  • You have to love Russell's little subtle bluesy wail leading into the solo. My ears deceived me here at first, because I initially thought that Pinnella's patches had never sounded better! But then I heard that it was a unison, and I was thrown because instead of being composed like a typical Symphony X unison (16th notes or faster whizzing by neoclassically), this one is composed like an actual solo. The unison breaks near the end with a brief harmonized line that Pinnella takes the higher register for before Romeo caps it off with some hot whammy bar action. My favorite part of this is halfway through, where it sounds delightfully like a Mega Man game with the "hook" that resolves on the tonic.
    • The solo section here is actually quite entertaining. The unison beforehand (in Em) and these guitar and keyboard trade-offs (in F#m) are actually treated musically as two larger solo sections, so I think it's neat how the band broke it up instead of just giving each guy 16 measures to noddle around in. It ends with another unison, too, calling back the first half.
    • The choral section here is pretty standard for this era of Symphony X, but it breaks up the previous feel and adds some flavor.
    • We're then treated to a more open section featuring the music box again, but it sounds a bit empty. It's not bad, mind you, but it seems like they could have done more in the transition back into the chorus. Or, you know, since the chorus isn't good, just went with a new direction here completely.
  • The outro riff is stellar, even though the key change here does not benefit the end of Russell's melody at all. I love how the band hits the tritone note on the off beats, dragging it into the next measure, which pushes the groove forward. I also love Pinnella's music box again, which adds a very eerie vibe to this whole song. It's also in a mid-tempo gallop feel, which changes the song's feel completely. Finally, yes, @MrKnickerbocker - the riff starts in Ebm and drops down a half step (perhaps as a callback to the post-first-chorus riff) to Dm. Cool stuff, as most bands would just keep the whole riff in the same key.
This track has a lot of neat musical ideas, but almost nowhere do the vocals compliment them. I particularly like the intro, brief post-chorus riff, unison, solos, and outro. This is one of Pinnella's strongest songs to this point, by far. However, as a composition I just don't think it flows well, and that chorus is weak. It's easy to see how this is probably the weakest song on the album, although others might go with Savage Curtain there. Either way, while the track is certainly listenable, it's not one of their finer songs as a whole. I wish the musical ideas here were used in compositions with stronger vocal melodies.
 
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Mosh

Winner of the 2020 Dumbest Comment Ever Award
Staff member
Didn’t realize we were at Secrets. I love that track, full review tomorrow.
 

MrKnickerbocker

clap hands
A Winter's Dream

LYRICS
Prelude (Part 1)
Although your words are empty
I can hear now, what you feel inside
The night is drawing closer
You feel you have to hide

Your fears are never wrong or right
Everything is either black or white

It's time to close your eyes now
Begin your fantasy
What does it mean?
Wake your dreams (commence now) into reality

Your fears are never wrong or right
Everything is either black or white

In a winter's dream, I'll be there for you...

Ascension (Part 2)

[Guitar Solo]

Still in bed an hour past
I'm drifting through the night
A fallen star divides the skies of divinity

Taken on a journey
And enlightened to the past
And if I wake, if I wake, will it embrace me?

PRE-CHORUS
Awoke at dawn to calm the storm inside of me
Take my last breath as I fall into eternity...

CHORUS
Risen to an astral flight, I wander through
Serene with you
Answers to the voices I hear
In a Winter's Dream, a dream

Empty minds still wait, I'm here
Captured by light
My spirit rides through the night
And if I dream to wake - will it embrace me?

When the story fades and all is said done
I cannot wait - pray for daybreak -
Will it escape me?

PRE-CHORUS
CHORUS

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

In a Winter's Dream - I'll be there for you
In a Winter's Dream - I'll be there for you

CHORUS x2
  • Yes, I'm considering these one song because they are one song. They should have been one song on the album.
  • The first half of this song is just absolutely beautiful. It's so simple, maybe the simplest thing in the discography. Just arpeggios, keyboards, and Russell singing softer than I would have thought possible.
  • I love how the piano starts one measure before Russ starts singing. Very nice, subtle layering and it sounds phenomenal.
  • This may be the only time Russell really uses falsetto in Symphony X. [fact check required]
  • The vocal layering on the line "your fears are never wrong or right" is awesome.
  • Backing vocals really fit here, too, even if they are a little loud. The faux-round they're doing is cool. It builds really nicely into the transition to the heavier second half.
  • I love the bluesy run Russell throws into the last "winter's dream" bit in Part 1.
  • Part 2 kicks off a bang as Pinnella keeps rocking the nice piano melody. The whole band crashes in, but very melodically.
  • The disjointed "main riff" of Part 2 is awesome, as is Romeo's first solo. He manages to slide around some key changes with only moderate levels of wank and it feels disjointed, the way it's supposed to. Like you're "drifting through a void", cue Russell...
  • He sounds good here, but not as good as Part 1. The backing vocals are still a little too loud, but they sound nice. This verse is decent, the pre-chorus is fine, but for once, it's the chorus that shines! It transitions beautifully and is truly catchy. I love how Russell pushes out "a dream...yeah!" at the end.
  • The break into verse 2 is also awesome. Russell sounds like he's coming into his more natural voice here, pushing and pulling the melody a bit. "All is said and done" sounds badass.
  • Romeo's solos in the "duel" section are also really cool. Very structured and melodically interesting. Pinnella...is severely outclassed. His patch doesn't help.
  • I love the soft breakdown that seems to recall Part 1 after the solos. Russell absolutely slays (because he's given the room to slay). "In a winter's dree-ee-eeeeeeam" is my favorite moment in the song.
  • The final double chorus rules. Once again, Russell slaying the shit out of it.
  • We end with a wicked ass vocal hold and a return of the madness void riff and...finally they end a song correctly! They don't build it up too much, they don't fade it out, it's a nice, proper ending to the album.
  • A Winter's Dream is a beautiful, pretty simple song and one of the best on the album. I don't think it's as good as The Edge of Forever, but it's close.
An interesting find, especially for those who listened to the debut (and further proof that this whole album was written before Russell even showed up):
 

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
Yes, I'm considering these one song because they are one song. They should have been one song on the album.
100%.

This may be the only time Russell really uses falsetto in Symphony X. [fact check required]
Pretty sure "The Divine Wings of Tragedy" ("lookin' up to the HEAVENS!") and "Egypt" ("five align...") do to, but I could be mistaken.

I've been listening to too much Ahab lately to properly do Symphony X but I've been waiting for this song for a long time and I can't wait to talk about it at length.
 

Jer

Fool! Doctor Doom does as he pleases!
“Secrets”:

A creepy, pulsing organ & drum groove breaks into a straightforward driving riff that takes some more interesting turns as it progresses. This underpins a pretty strong verse, which suddenly takes a hard left turn into a slower, creepier pre-chorus which builds into a solid but weird chorus with lots of musical convolutions.

A nice neoclassical interlude returns to another round of verse through chorus, then we get a cool synth & guitar duet that turns into a series of sweet tradeoff solos between the two instruments before finishing in unison again. The final guitar bit that leads into the choral vocals reminds me of a key moment in Gamma Ray’s “Armageddon” (which came later).

The choral bit itself is OK, but not particularly great, and it eventually leads into an instrumental version of the pre-chorus that builds back into the standard chorus before fading out on a punchier outro riff.

The instrumental parts here are great, but the vocal sections are more uneven, with somewhat clunky transitions and some parts that work better than others. The phrasing’s a bit weird in some sections of the chorus, too. But on the whole I’d say this is still a strong 7/10.
 

Detective Beauregard

Independent as a hog on ice
On Russell and falsetto...
"The Divine Wings of Tragedy" ("lookin' up to the HEAVENS!")
Definitely.
"Egypt" ("five align...")
Difficult to hear as there's a lot of Russells here, but I'm no vocal expert.

Another example is Candlelight Fantasia's first verse (parts of "kissing the tears from the face as they fall to the ground in silence.") Also easily Symphony X's most depressing song.
 

Detective Beauregard

Independent as a hog on ice
So we've arrived at the end of Symphony X's "first" album, and are immediately treated with the serene beauty of A Winter's Dream. I too treat this as one song, and I'm honestly not sure why the band split the tracks on the album. How un-prog of them.
  • The Prelude's intro is beautiful. It's just a simple C#sus2 chord played by Romeo, while Pinnella's pad and Miller's bass handle the root changes underneath. It's haunting.
  • Piano is added for Russell's grand entrance. For the verse turnaround, Asus2 and Bsus2 chords are added, keeping the guitar fingering the same. This is easily Symphony X's simplest "song," but that doesn't detract from its beauty. I'm not a huge fan of the spoken "what does it mean?" line in the second verse, though.
  • Russell's ooooohing leads us into a teaser of the chorus to come in the song's second part, and it's so soothing here. My favorite part is how the piano finally breaks off from the guitar line and adds some additional melody.
  • The Ascension begins with... wait for it... an ascending line with Pinnella's piano losing its mind in the background via arpeggiated goodness.
    • The song wastes no time jumping into its main riff, which switches to a more ominous tone. Romeo's start-stop chords are punchy, and I love how Rullo accents them with the kick drum for maximum effect. That fill at the end is so bizarre for several reasons - its up-down sweeping motion, ending on a tritone, and the bass playing it too.
    • Romeo's solo here is super weird in that through eight measures, not one single chord repeats. This means he's essentially switching sounds eight times, giving the section a sense of being lost. The final two measures start to head into more familiar tonalities, and then it resolves into the verse in Dm.
  • Miller's bass groove in Savage Curtain may be his finest on this album, but this is a close second! It's a pure groove, and this whole section gets an A+ in my book. I like Romeo's restraint in the first half, popping in with those staccato funk chords (although they're a bit overpowering) in the latter half. Russell is excellent here.
  • I love the forward motion and uplifting feel of the pre-chorus. Of particular note is the E power chord halfway through, as it is out of key and is like a "warning" of something ominous approaching.
  • This chorus and The Edge of Forever's are among two of my favorites the band has ever written. It's incredibly powerful, soaring, and mystical. The most interesting musical bit is in the fourth and eighth measures, where Russ's vocal is up and down but the music underneath is a jazzy chromatic walk back up to the tonic. How glorious. Great harmonies, too.
  • The second verse adds some proggy changes such as the full stop with the vocal leading in, the first half with the simple guitar but previous verse's bass groove, and the second half where the guitar joins in with the bass. Russell also changes the vocal feel for this second half, becoming more aggressive.
  • The solo section is structured in quite a simple manner for Symphony X, although it's interesting that they modulate back and forth only a half step. Every solo works quite well here, particularly the second (Pinnella) and third (Romeo). It's all very... dreamlike.
  • The "bridge" (it's actually the pre-chorus music) is chilling, from the epic choirs to Russell's soulful crooning (his bluesy warbling on those last lines are classic). It's also great to hear Rullo take the dynamic down a notch, using snare rim shots and hi-hat diddles before dropping that beat. There's also these subtle little descending tinkling piano arpeggios at the end of every second measure if you listen closely, adding flavor.
  • Russell's "improv" on the first line of the final chorus repeat is stunning.
  • I have to say - this song ended in a succinct manner, which is what several previous tracks should have done. But this is the closer! I actually think this song would have benefitted from a longer, more epic outro. But it's a minor point, since that chorus is such a high point.
This song is an easy second to only The Edge of Forever as far as this album is concerned. It's actually a lot more straightforward than Edge, but I think lacks the depth and wide array of moods. Overall, it's an excellent mini-epic and a great finish to a solid album.

An interesting find, especially for those who listened to the debut (and further proof that this whole album was written before Russell even showed up):
Wait, how do you know that the entire album was written pre-Russell?

It's insanely interesting to hear how the music in the demo is virtually identical to the final version, right down to the main solos (Romeo's "drifting through the void" solo in the intro was an excellent addition). Thankfully, the final vocals were not identical. However, I like the demo's ending a lot more! The scalar run is a bit out of place, but the final few chords calling back The Edge of Forever's ending would have been brilliant.
 
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Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
So "Secrets" is a pretty interesting song. I love the way Pinnella's got an organ sound in the intro, and Rullo really brings the best out of it. He's got some fire moments on this song. The riff is cool as hell. Russell sounds great, even if the lyrics are a bit nonsensical. The pre-chorus has cool music but is a bit pointless. Chorus is fun. Pinnella's little flourishes are one of the highlights of this song. The way Romeo and Pinnella first double up the guitar and keys before doing a duel is awesome as HELL. It's overall a pretty good song but not one of their most memorable. Fun stuff.
 

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
Let's get it out of the way right now - "A Winter's Dream" is the best song up to this point in Symphony X's catalogue. It's also possibly the first one I'd rate a 10/10, although some aspects of it may leave me deducting a point from it. What aspects? Well, I feel that more could've been done to bridge "Prelude" with "Ascension", and the latter section could've been improved slightly in certain sections. Which sections? I straight up don't remember because I started taking notes and then just grooved with the song instead.

Because here's the thing: when the great stuff is literally amazing, does it matter if some sections could've been worked better? I mean "Prelude" is fucking perfect the way it is. That's some seriously well crafted build-up. Russell's voice is gorgeous. For real, this album is so much better because he's singing on it it's not even funny. And for god's sake, the chorus. Oh my god. I get chills from that. It's easily one of the best in the entire Symphony X catalogue. It makes everything else tie together.

I genuinely can't type right now, my brain is spaghetti, but that chorus is perfect. perfect perfect perfect. Bomb-ass song.

EDIT: OH AND WHEN RUSSELL LIFTS HIS VOICE UP IN THE FINAL REPRISE IM FUCKING BALLING. what a fucking JAM

EDIT 2: a video of me listening to the song would have 100% conveyed the emotions i'm trying to get across much better than i'm able to right now. for real, it's a killer song and Symphony X leveled up big time here.
 

Jer

Fool! Doctor Doom does as he pleases!
“A Winter’s Dream”:

An airy acoustic opening develops into a very nice and memorable vocal line with some nice falsetto highs. Ooh, I like the slight tonal change going into the title lyric section. I like the layered chorus of vocals and the (admittedly predictable) note resolution at the end of the prelude.

Well, the cut into part II was rather abrupt. I like the off-rhythm ascending lead, and I really like the complex riff it breaks into afterward. A nice melodic guitar lead follows, leading into a darker verse. Ew, what’s with the weird vocal harmony bit here?

Now we get some Rush-like goodness with the bass steering the ship and the guitar providing some rhythmic texture under the next verse. This develops into a brighter pre-chorus with some more weird vocal harmonies in the middle, then a better vocal harmony swell leads into a solid chorus.

More cool riffage through an instrumental interlude, then an unexpected a capella transition back into the verse, which is pretty cool. This time Allen starts chewing the scenery a bit in lieu of the weird vocal harmonies, but this is definitely preferable.

Another pre-chorus and chorus, and then we get a nice series of guitar & synth tradeoff solos, followed by a calmer bridge full of cool layered “oohs” that rolls back into the chorus. The complex riff returns for the outro, but rather than going for the abrupt ending at the tail of the riff, a somewhat awkward coda of a few drum hits and chords is tacked on.

Well, that was definitely one of the strongest songs on the album overall. The prelude section in particular was the best and most memorable vocal delivery on the record. The band continues to struggle with how to use vocal harmonies, and some of the lyrical phrasing is a bit weird; but most of the song is great, and I can confidently give this one an 8/10.
 

Jer

Fool! Doctor Doom does as he pleases!
So, to round it up...

Symphony X - The Damnation Game (1995)
Average: 7.1/10

A meaningful step up from the debut. Russell Allen’s singing is a significant improvement, the production is better, and the songwriting is moving in the right direction.

Vocal harmonies are still used poorly in a number of places, and while there’s a lot of cerebral appeal to the music, it’s still lacking a bit in visceral and emotional appeal. Nothing here really grabs you by the throat or the heartstrings, though it comes close in a few places.

Still, an enjoyable listen with mostly good to great songs.
 

MrKnickerbocker

clap hands
  • The Ascension begins with... wait for it... an ascending line with Pinnella's piano losing its mind in the background via arpeggiated goodness.
    • The song wastes no time jumping into its main riff, which switches to a more ominous tone. Romeo's start-stop chords are punchy, and I love how Rullo accents them with the kick drum for maximum effect. That fill at the end is so bizarre for several reasons - its up-down sweeping motion, ending on a tritone, and the bass playing it too.
    • Romeo's solo here is super weird in that through eight measures, not one single chord repeats. This means he's essentially switching sounds eight times, giving the section a sense of being lost. The final two measures start to head into more familiar tonalities, and then it resolves into the verse in Dm.
That's such a great description of how the music really leans into the theme of the song. For once in SX's catalog, the music really perfectly matches the lyrics and helps the listener sink deeper into the overall song.

Wait, how do you know that the entire album was written pre-Russell?
Cause Russell said so. You were there!

Because here's the thing: when the great stuff is literally amazing, does it matter if some sections could've been worked better? I mean "Prelude" is fucking perfect the way it is. That's some seriously well crafted build-up. Russell's voice is gorgeous. For real, this album is so much better because he's singing on it it's not even funny. And for god's sake, the chorus. Oh my god. I get chills from that. It's easily one of the best in the entire Symphony X catalogue. It makes everything else tie together.

I genuinely can't type right now, my brain is spaghetti, but that chorus is perfect. perfect perfect perfect. Bomb-ass song.

EDIT: OH AND WHEN RUSSELL LIFTS HIS VOICE UP IN THE FINAL REPRISE IM FUCKING BALLING. what a fucking JAM

EDIT 2: a video of me listening to the song would have 100% conveyed the emotions i'm trying to get across much better than i'm able to right now. for real, it's a killer song and Symphony X leveled up big time here.
I love this enthusiasm and I definitely agree! Sometimes analyzing these songs is much harder than just rating it based on my overall feeling, especially with a band like Symphony X. When they nail an emotion, they fucking nail it to the wall.

“A Winter’s Dream”:

An airy acoustic opening develops into a very nice and memorable vocal line with some nice falsetto highs. Ooh, I like the slight tonal change going into the title lyric section. I like the layered chorus of vocals and the (admittedly predictable) note resolution at the end of the prelude.

Well, the cut into part II was rather abrupt. I like the off-rhythm ascending lead, and I really like the complex riff it breaks into afterward. A nice melodic guitar lead follows, leading into a darker verse. Ew, what’s with the weird vocal harmony bit here?

The band continues to struggle with how to use vocal harmonies, and some of the lyrical phrasing is a bit weird; but most of the song is great, and I can confidently give this one an 8/10.
I think the vocal harmonies are great in this song! I admit they're not always perfect for this band, but I think they work really well on this track.
 

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
Gonna go off on a tangent and find the 10 Symphony X songs with the best choruses in my opinion:

A Winter's Dream - The Ascension (Part II)
Sea of Lies
Fallen
Egypt
Inferno (Unleash the Fire)
Accolade II
The Odyssey: Part II - Journey to Ithaca
Paradise Lost

...and upon mulling these eight over I honestly think that the best proper chorus in the whole Symphony X catalogue is "A Winter's Dream". It just flows so nicely and is like nothing they've come up with since, even though there are some real competitors for that title.
 
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