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

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
Definitely the motif, but Symphony X play around with song structures so much that I think it fits as one version of the chorus. To paraphrase an old story, “Songs are supposed to be A-B-C affairs, but you’re already at W...”
 

MrKnickerbocker

clap hands
Yeah, I think we’re in more of a chorus/post-chorus at the most nitpicky. I also consider them to be one full chorus.

This is the moment where SX discovered the melodic and emotional power of extending the chorus just a bit over the main motif in a song. Popular music does this all the time and, IMO, it always works. It’s just very good, catchy songwriting because you’re extending a new, hooky vocal part over an already established and memorable instrumental.
 

Jer

Yes, Yes, Another Beer!
“Sea Of Lies”:

A synth swell and a bouncy bass line presage a biting, driving riff that goes through some lovely neoclassical permutations before spiraling into the verse. Allen has a strong, memorable delivery here, riding on the edge of scenery chewing, but not quite getting there.

A brief guitar interlude with a harmonized flourish rolls right into a chameleonic chorus that goes through some rapid key changes before settling into a straightforward melodic line on top of the opening riff. This returns to a nice clean variant of the verse that builds back into the heavier version, then the chorus.

A great series of guitar, bass, and synth solos follow. The synth parts are a pretty simple oscillating melody, but they provide nice texture. The second pass through the synths is somewhat reminiscent of Rush’s “Temples Of Syrinx”. This eventually breaks back into the main riff and the second part of the chorus, then caps things off with a quick rhythmic breakdown.

A great song that flirts with excellence. No major weaknesses, just some weird vocal intonation in the harmonized part of the chorus, and the chorus doesn’t really grab you by the throat. I’m not quite feeling a 9, so we’ll say a very robust 8/10.
 

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
So one thing that's been holding me back in the SXDDD is the fact that for a while I've just been unsure of how to rate "A Winter's Dream". But as I've been listening to it I also found stuff I think I want to talk about, more than in the little post I wrote earlier. So here's an actual, more in-depth 'review' of the song(s).

A Winter's Dream: Prelude, Pt. I
So right out of the gate one thing that really strikes me about "A Winter's Dream" is how it is both a very typical Symphony X song, but also a very atypical Symphony X song. "Prelude" is one of the atypical parts. I don't think the discography has anything quite like this Beautifully lavish atmospheric instrumentation with Russell's gorgeous voice rising atop it. Aside from that, two interesting things I want to point out: the switch to spoken word in the second 'verse' here (I see this first section as being verse - pre-chorus - verse - pre-chorus - chorus) reminds me of the intro to "Afraid to Shoot Strangers", also second 'verse'. There it felt out of place, but here it actually works. Secondly the backing vocals during the chorus... if there's one thing this song as a whole could do better, it's the backing vocals, but I'm really not too bothered by them. The way they sing the final line as "I'll... be... there..." without the "for you" is so cool. As a whole, one of the band's most beautiful pieces of music.

A Winter's Dream: The Ascension, Pt. II
And now we really get going. If I was the band, I would have had a quick pick slide down the guitar and then slam the listener right into a pumping, up-tempo riff, but they didn't do that. Instead we get a flurry of piano and some typical SX 'guitaring' that's actually really intriguing - and then it's BAM! right into that riff. What a bop. It's such a bouncing anchor to the song, I love it. This is around the time that "A Winter's Dream" becomes a typical Symphony X song, and I say this as a positive. There's a bit of waffling before the verse, and when it comes in, I'm going, huh, now this is really a pretty standard model Symphony X verse. But it works so well, especially when the pre-chorus comes in and we get a little shift to more 'boppy' territory.

AND THE CHORUS! I don't have to repeat myself but I will anyway. This is probably the best chorus in the band's whole catalogue. It's beautiful, it's pumping, it makes you wanna get up and move. It almost brings tears to my eyes, it's just so good. Russell isn't even pushing himself here, he's just singing. And it is just terrific. Bands like Iced Earth and Symphony X (I view them as sort of a package deal of '90s bands with prog interests*, classic metal stylings, and terrific vocalists - *and I'm not calling IE prog, because they're not, they just have some leanings to it) often have great choruses, but they work because of the contexts of the songs, building and climaxing, etc. So when they write a real chorus-chorus that can be pretty special, and this is SX writing one and it is just so much fun. Ugh I love it.

Love the little switch-ups in the second verse, little things like this really enhance the whole experience. Instrumental section is pretty typical, but again, I'm not saying this as a bad thing, I think it's really cool. Like taking Symphony X 101. Bringing back the "Prelude" hook for the bridge is also really neat. And that final chorus, where Russell does push himself. God I could explode. And ending with the riff and then going out with a huge theatrical style exit is just so cool.

So while I've been wondering for a while what to this, further listens have really underscored one thing and I'll come right out and say it: "A Winter's Dream" is the first Symphony X song I'll be rating a 10/10. A lot of that is down to just how awesome that chorus is, but it's surrounded with so many cool bits and pieces that the whole thing is just such an enjoyable ride. Symphony X's first real masterpiece.

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Which brings us to The Damnation Game as a whole. I like it, but I don't love it. It's much better than the debut, but we're still getting there. The jump from this to Divine Wings is insane. A lot of great elements in these songs, but they all feel slightly under-baked, bar "A Winter's Dream".

1. "The Damnation Game" - decent power metal but a poor intro for Russell. 6/10
2. "Dressed to Kill" - a lovely romp through Middle Eastern tapestries. 8/10
3. "The Edge of Forever" - a wonderful precursor to future successes. 9/10
4. "Savage Curtain" - by-the-numbers, but very fun. 7/10
5. "Whispers" - a good classic Symphony X ballad. 8/10
6. "The Haunting" - Russell outdoes Romeo at last. 8/10*
7. "Secrets" - fun stuff. 7/10
8. / 9. "A Winter's Dream, Pts. I&II" - Symphony X's first real masterpiece. 10/10
- Total: 79%

*Recipient of the Russell Takes It to 11 award.

79% is actually exactly what I was thinking I'd rate it without averaging the songs, so it's cool that that's what I ended up with. Time for The Divine Wings of Tragedy, a truly immense album and a favorite of mine from the band's discography. Yee-haw!
 

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
Oh yeah, we have leveled UP, motherfuckers!! So I think it's pretty clear that "Of Sins and Shadows" is easily the band's most iconic opener and short rocker. (I would wager that "The Divine Wings of Tragedy" and "The Odyssey" are more well known just because of their statuses as 20-minute prog metal epics, but "Sins" and "Sea of Lies" are surely up there too.) Is it my favorite of their openers? Not anymore, but it's still a brilliant track and was one of the first from the band that really grabbed my attention when I started getting into them.

I love the intro, and actually it took me until just now to realize that this is the exact same riff that they then launch into. I've been thinking this whole time it was just some mucking about, but no, it's the same riff. And the way it's so quiet and first than they grab you by the hair and smash your face into the riff in that sudden switch to heavier production is just genius. I don't think they've ever used that technique again.

One thing I've never really picked up on is just how much everyone is now firing on all cylinders. This song really doesn't seem as wild as it is till you're really giving it your full attention. Russell is ten times better than he was on Damnation Game and goddamn does he sound good. He's really digging into those Dio-isms. Romeo's riffage is phenomenal. One thing I find interesting from the perspective of Pinnella is that whatever he's playing in the background of the main riff I'm 99% sure gets reused for V, first bet is in the outro to "Fallen" but feel free to correct me on this.

The verse is some POWERFUL power metal. The chorus is super memorable. Russell really nails everything here. Love the bridge too. Symphony X have a lot of Queen-esqued vocal choir pieces but this song is one of the purest examples of it. It illustrates perfectly what I think of a "Symphony X style" vocals. And they're so much better than on previous albums. I could be wrong but I think that that's because Russell is now in control of backing vocals, either solely or majorly. They also come back for the final chorus, which used to disappoint me cuz I wanted to hear Russell really go for it, but now I just groove with it. It's such a good song. The gold standard of Symphony X rockers.

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Also, here's a great cover by a female vocalist that I thought I'd share. I really love how she sounds on this song. Obviously Russell is Russell and it's almost impossible to top him, but she is the best person I have ever heard sing a Symphony X song besides him. If Russell ever quits (God forbid!) put her in there.

 

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
Ugh, god. Look. We're on a whole new level now. Divine Wings is just really fucking good. Probably my favorite Symphony X album after V. And goddamndamndamndamndamn is "Sea of Lies" a guaranteed Top 10 song for me. Every second of this song is just,,,, fucking awesome. The slow synth build up into Miller's epic bass intro, which is then replaced by the guitar riff (which is the exact same as that bass intro) and it's nothing but FIRE from there.

Let's have a quick chat about the lyrics. I don't know 100% what this song is about. The vibe I get is pretty medieval. Maybe it's a dragonslayer whose village just got wiped out. Maybe it's King Richard returning home to take the throne from his brother John and having second thoughts. Actually, I think it's about a guy in his forties or fifties, balding, going to his daily 9-5 job, trying to get his work in on time so he can support his wife and three kids, and having a midlife crisis because the stock market is going to hell. And if this is what Symphony X were going for, then I say hurrah. Because they make this lyrics about falling apart internally work really well. A lot of this album feels like the music is inspired by the Middle Ages and this is no exception.

And now also a note on Russell. Obviously Dio is his #1 inspiration and he swipes a lot of his style from the man, but in this song in particular I can hear some Bruce influence as well. Listen to how he sings "lies", for instance. Also, fucking awesome singing holy shit goddamn.

And the instruments. This is a song that Romeo is dominating. Miller gets some moments to shine too, but mostly it's just Romeo going the extra mile. Forget Dave's back-to-back "Prodigal Son" solos, because Romeo's triple back-to-back solos in this song are so much better. The first one is just typical Symphony X style. Then there's the iconic tapping section which I'm pretty sure is one of his most iconic pieces. And then a third solo at the end that's more emotional while still being noodly, and it's all just so good. Then Pinnella seems to come and noodle himself, which gets overlayed by ANOTHER Romeo solo and then it's back to the riff. This song may actually have five Romeo solos what the fuck. No wait, six? There's also that piece between verse 1 and chorus 1. Doesn't matter, point is, Romeo is on fire and dominating this track, but not in the obnoxious way that he does in latter-day SX songs.

And finally, Rullo is just epic. So many little fills here and there, CONSTANTLY.

Just a perfect four minute slab of Symphony X at their very best. What do I think of this song? Fucking AWESOME.

EDIT: Completely forgot to mention how much I love the acoustics in verse 2. Love is understating it, I ADORE those acoustics. So much happens in this song and all of it is just mind-blowingly awesome. It does in four minutes what many bands couldn't do in sixty.
 
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Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
One of my all-time favorite quotes is from (a favorite songwriter of mine who I will not shut up about): "What's wrong with going over-the-top? If you don't go over the top, how can you see the other side?"

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that a lot of my favorite artists have grandiose and bombastic tendencies. Prog doesn't always follow that, because of the nature of the genre. But "Sea of Lies" really brings that quote to my mind because they could have played it so straight on this song, but they didn't, and it is 110% better for that.
 

Spambot

Ancient Mariner
Secrets
I love it how they don't complicate their intro. If this were some other band this intro would last at least a minute longer with each instrument coming in a new verse. To be honest, that's the only thing I like about this song. I don't like non-melodic sudden tempo changes if they go from fast to slower, especially if those two areas are verse-chorus (or in this case verse to pre-chorus).
The first part of the chorus is generic to my ear and if it weren't for those back vocals in the second part I could even call it bad. Actually, nothing bad about each particular part of this song but they somehow feel disjointed.
That duel solo (guitar-synth) is enjoyable enough, but except the end, I can't say I can remember the rest of it.
Nothing special about another round of two choruses.
Oh, and that outro is waaaay to long. It goes for about minute without any interesting variations.

Winter's Dream
Here's how I picture the song. Pinella sits at a keyboard and then presses the key that says "WINTER" and the song starts. No really, I was listing this album after a couple of weeks and still don't know the names of the song and as soon as this song started I had a picture of snow falling in the woods. It may be my psyche remembering the name and presenting it that way, don't know really.
Also, after the first sung verse I expected a slow shredding guitar solo. It doesn't happen, and I don't say the intro (Prelude) needs it, I just say I expected it. I like Allen's performance, really emotional, but I must admit those back vocals are on a verge of cringy.
However, the prelude works perfectly as a calm sea before the storm that is hinted at the beginning of The Ascension. I just love the ending of that first guitar/synth riff, really chaotic.
This is one of the rare occasions where the vocals are accompanied by just bass and drums, and it works great. The pre-chorus breaks the tempo again, but it doesn't throw me that much out of the song like the previous one. Here's the deal with the chorus: those vocal melodies are awesome, it has that sort-of anthem feel and the rhythm section is just as I like it - double bass pedals on drums in the front with bass guitar notes stepping right on them. But the rest (guitar/synth)... it feels like one of them (or both) need to either take a step back or a step forward. Chorus has such a huge potential with that vocal line, but something happening in background just seems unfinished.
I like how the guitar and synth solo approached this a bit more carefully - there are no sudden scales that just fly up and down across the song. Both Romeo and Pinella sound really calculated (positively) instead each of them trying to fill the time they have with as many notes as they can.
The outro is good, thumb up. Another chorus, bang and that's it. Nice way to finish, both the song and the album.

About the Album (The Damnation Game)
It is certainly better from the previous one: the change of the singer, slight step up in a production, better constructed songs and although there is less much variety - I'd call it a good thing. But here's the deal. I've been listening to it a couple of times about a month ago, then a week ago and then again today. It may be just these two first albums (and last two albums) but Symphony X really strikes me more as "an album band" than "a song band". While I listen to the whole album, it's really enjoyable, but even after all these listens I can't really pinpoint a song I love. More so, if I listen to a song individually, I can even like some of them, but I still haven't reached a point that I like it so much I'm going to repeat it a couple of times (I do repeat it, but only so I could write here what I hear).
I still haven't encountered that certain moment where a part of a song blows my mind and I just keep a song on a repeat a couple of times and then that repeat stretches to the song before and after the one that blew my mind and then to the whole album. More interestingly, once I stumble upon "the moment" that blows my mind, once I return to songs/albums I've previously heard - I hear them completely different. Something just elevates in my opinions, and it's only then that I start to enjoy the band.
I have no shame to admit that I lean more towards "commercial" songs, and it takes me some time to appreciate progressive bands that I love today. So far, this moment hasn't come with Symphony X, although I can feel it's somewhere there, and I guess it'll come soon. As a mythology enthusiast - if it doesn't come by fourth or fifth album, it probably never will (but I doubt it.)
 

Spambot

Ancient Mariner
Of Sins and Shadows
Thumb up for that low-fi small intro, thumb up the guitar riff, two thumbs up the sound of Pinella's synth, thumb up for the "Aaah" choir break.
Unfortunately I can't say thumb up for the sound of Pinella when the vocal verse starts. Still, the verse is great and the pre-chorus (I guess?) is awesome even if I'm not into that stuff. Chorus is kind of generic altogether, although Russel is really on another level.
That band riff after the chorus and especially little lick is such a nice touch, but I got to comment this: that more-than-hearable break before the second verse is more than amateurish. It looks like they've stepped up their production, so I have no idea how could something like that slip on the final product.
I can't share enthusiasm for the vocal lines as the rest of you do, Russel does sound good but that "...from the sky" just somehow feels clumsy, both Allen's delivery before the actual line and choir vocals after it. For example, just moments after that, there is such a great use of back vocals: Russel ends on high note, stop the music and choir kicks in - really impactful. Solo section is not really my alley, especially the end of it while you can still hear both Pinella's back melody on the synth and his front solo, it seems like too much is going on.
The third chorus deserves a hat down - not only the back vocals take over the vocal lines of the chorus, but you hear Miller's bass licks which really elevates the whole song. This guys really deservers more spotlight, I hope he gets it on this album.
And the ending is a thumb up, just when I thought I'm in for another one-minute-fade-out outro, they pack things up nicely.

Sea of Lies
Yes, Miller. A thousand times yes, Mr. Miller.
And the way the rest of the band joins him in this trash riff while Romeo still holds the background - a thousand times yes again.
Although Pinella has his moments when he takes the spotlight I prefer him when he oozes in the background putting layers.
The first part of the chorus in nothing to write home about while the other part is just a face-melter. The riff, the vocal, the rhythm section - excellent.
The slow, melodic part that comes out of nowhere after the first chorus is such a nice breath of fresh air. The way it slowly builds momentum is really art especially before kicking again into chorus again. At this point I'm just waiting for Allen's "...lies..." part (Mr. KB translated it perfectly).
I'm not really a fan of their solo sections, but this...
The first part of Romeo's solo is like many others I've heard before but... Damn... What I say in previous song, I'll repeat in this one - Miller deserves more spotlight. The guy just came in quietly and stepped into a legend. Again, I don't like noodling, but when it's constructed like this - from 2:03 to 3:01 - I'm going to stand up and clap. Less is more or more is less, whatever, the way it just keeps on going as the melody is doubled in second try - I love it. And the rest of it isn't even that bad. Here and there, the guitar solo actually stops to highlight some notes and I'm must say this is the most impressive thing I've heard from him (considering guitar solos)
The noodling part comes after and that trash-y riff and Allen reminds us about his highlight of this song.


OK, I got to admit, I heard several songs that come up after these two, but even these first four tracks blow out of the water first two albums.
Like, Self-titled and Damnation Game are a bunch of guys doing their best playing football (or soccer) in 3rd league, and you appreciate their style and applaud their effort, but these first two songs on The Diving Wings of Tragedy? They're one of those clubs that start in the Premiership so good bookies see them as champions at the end of the season.
 

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
that more-than-hearable break before the second verse is more than amateurish.
What part are you referring to here? The one where Romeo noodles a bit, and there’s a quick pause before the riff kicks back in? Cuz I love that little detail personally.
 

Spambot

Ancient Mariner
What part are you referring to here? The one where Romeo noodles a bit, and there’s a quick pause before the riff kicks back in? Cuz I love that little detail personally.
Yep, that is the part (at 1:47) but I didn't mean their actual intent to make a pause, it more of a mastering issue. I don't know which version rest of you are listening to (I'm listening from their official YT channel), but you can hear a clear cut in that silence. I mean, I know that final product on albums is often several parts merged together from different takes, still, it's a slip. Like, you're at a magic show and you catch a glimpse of a secret compartment.
But I'm really splitting hairs here, majority wouldn't probably notice it and it's not like it ruins the quality of the song. Just a small mistake in mastering.
 

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
Yep, that is the part (at 1:47) but I didn't mean their actual intent to make a pause, it more of a mastering issue. I don't know which version rest of you are listening to (I'm listening from their official YT channel), but you can hear a clear cut in that silence. I mean, I know that final product on albums is often several parts merged together from different takes, still, it's a slip. Like, you're at a magic show and you catch a glimpse of a secret compartment.
But I'm really splitting hairs here, majority wouldn't probably notice it and it's not like it ruins the quality of the song. Just a small mistake in mastering.
I'm also listening through the 'Topic' videos. And yeah, I'm not sure if it's intentional or not, but I love that slight pause for all the reasons you don't. It's not a clean cut, it's like catching a glimpse of the magician behind-the-scenes and understanding the trick and still loving it because he entertains the hell of you.
 

MrKnickerbocker

clap hands
Symphony X fans treat this opening bass line in a way that Megadeth fans treat the opening line to Peace Sells. It's a neat little pedal riff that eventually is joined by the full band.
I’ve never heard nor thought of that comparison, but I get it. I’d actually wager that you hear the bass in Symphony X more than you ever hear it in Megadeth (save for Peace Sells and Dawn Patrol).
The harmony on "never changing just rearranging my life again" is glorious, and Russell's wail on "shine on me again" is beyond epic. This verse is easily my favorite vocal section of the song.
Truly one of his god moments.
Allen has a strong, memorable delivery here, riding on the edge of scenery chewing, but not quite getting there.
I’m legitimately curious, and not trying to bait you into an argument, what you consider “scenery chewing” in vocals? Like, I feel like I know what you’re saying, but also we’re listening to a virtuoso progressive power metal band that references classical melodies and I just don’t hear Russell really doing that here.

My first thought of scenery chewing in metal would be something like Priest’s “The Ripper”, where Halford literally pulls the entire focus of the music for the sake of vocal effects.
 

MrKnickerbocker

clap hands
A Winter's Dream: Prelude, Pt. I
So right out of the gate one thing that really strikes me about "A Winter's Dream" is how it is both a very typical Symphony X song, but also a very atypical Symphony X song. "Prelude" is one of the atypical parts. I don't think the discography has anything quite like this Beautifully lavish atmospheric instrumentation with Russell's gorgeous voice rising atop it. Aside from that, two interesting things I want to point out: the switch to spoken word in the second 'verse' here (I see this first section as being verse - pre-chorus - verse - pre-chorus - chorus) reminds me of the intro to "Afraid to Shoot Strangers", also second 'verse'. There it felt out of place, but here it actually works.
It’s truly so threadbare and lush that it remains unrivalled in the discography. Yeah, there’s stuff I like more, but this is a gem.

And yes, I’d say Russ is capable of a touch more subtlety than Bruce Bruce.
A Winter's Dream: The Ascension, Pt. II
AND THE CHORUS! I don't have to repeat myself but I will anyway. This is probably the best chorus in the band's whole catalogue. It's beautiful, it's pumping, it makes you wanna get up and move. It almost brings tears to my eyes, it's just so good. Russell isn't even pushing himself here, he's just singing. And it is just terrific. Bands like Iced Earth and Symphony X (I view them as sort of a package deal of '90s bands with prog interests*, classic metal stylings, and terrific vocalists - *and I'm not calling IE prog, because they're not, they just have some leanings to it) often have great choruses, but they work because of the contexts of the songs, building and climaxing, etc. So when they write a real chorus-chorus that can be pretty special, and this is SX writing one and it is just so much fun. Ugh I love it.

And that final chorus, where Russell does push himself. God I could explode. And ending with the riff and then going out with a huge theatrical style exit is just so cool.
I think they’ve done catchier choruses, but I agree that it truly feels so natural, earned, and effortless. And that final round is truly special.
1. "The Damnation Game" - decent power metal but a poor intro for Russell. 6/10
Wait...the title track is the worst song on the album?! It’s definitely not perfect, but it’s certainly better than some of the filler!
I love the intro, and actually it took me until just now to realize that this is the exact same riff that they then launch into. I've been thinking this whole time it was just some mucking about, but no, it's the same riff. And the way it's so quiet and first than they grab you by the hair and smash your face into the riff in that sudden switch to heavier production is just genius. I don't think they've ever used that technique again.
Right! Mike Portnoy does this stuff all the time (shifting the beat under the same guitar riff) and it always kills.
could be wrong but I think that that's because Russell is now in control of backing vocals, either solely or majorly.
Pretty sure you’re right. I know the intro in the title track is all Russell. I’m sure the notes are mostly being dictated by Romeo, though.
Also, here's a great cover by a female vocalist that I thought I'd share. I really love how she sounds on this song. Obviously Russell is Russell and it's almost impossible to top him, but she is the best person I have ever heard sing a Symphony X song besides him. If Russell ever quits (God forbid!) put her in there.

Really cool cover! And awesome to hear a woman tackle SX (though I don’t think she can touch Russell in terms of aggression).
Let's have a quick chat about the lyrics. I don't know 100% what this song is about. The vibe I get is pretty medieval. Maybe it's a dragonslayer whose village just got wiped out. Maybe it's King Richard returning home to take the throne from his brother John and having second thoughts. Actually, I think it's about a guy in his forties or fifties, balding, going to his daily 9-5 job, trying to get his work in on time so he can support his wife and three kids, and having a midlife crisis because the stock market is going to hell. And if this is what Symphony X were going for, then I say hurrah. Because they make this lyrics about falling apart internally work really well. A lot of this album feels like the music is inspired by the Middle Ages and this is no exception.
Pretty sure you’ve just put more thought into the meaning of a Symphony X song than anyone in Symphony X has ever done.
And now also a note on Russell. Obviously Dio is his #1 inspiration and he swipes a lot of his style from the man, but in this song in particular I can hear some Bruce influence as well. Listen to how he sings "lies", for instance. Also, fucking awesome singing holy shit goddamn.
It is actually pretty weird to hear him holding such a clear, belted note without adding grit or blues to it. Nice catch.
Forget Dave's back-to-back "Prodigal Son" solos, because Romeo's triple back-to-back solos in this song are so much better.
The biggest compliment Dave Murray will ever receive is to have his back-to-back Prodigal Son solos referenced fleetingly in a thread discussing Michael Romeo.
 

MrKnickerbocker

clap hands
Winter's Dream
Here's how I picture the song. Pinella sits at a keyboard and then presses the key that says "WINTER" and the song starts. No really, I was listing this album after a couple of weeks and still don't know the names of the song and as soon as this song started I had a picture of snow falling in the woods.
:applause:
About the Album (The Damnation Game)
It is certainly better from the previous one: the change of the singer, slight step up in a production, better constructed songs and although there is less much variety - I'd call it a good thing. But here's the deal. I've been listening to it a couple of times about a month ago, then a week ago and then again today. It may be just these two first albums (and last two albums) but Symphony X really strikes me more as "an album band" than "a song band". While I listen to the whole album, it's really enjoyable, but even after all these listens I can't really pinpoint a song I love. More so, if I listen to a song individually, I can even like some of them, but I still haven't reached a point that I like it so much I'm going to repeat it a couple of times (I do repeat it, but only so I could write here what I hear).
I still haven't encountered that certain moment where a part of a song blows my mind and I just keep a song on a repeat a couple of times and then that repeat stretches to the song before and after the one that blew my mind and then to the whole album. More interestingly, once I stumble upon "the moment" that blows my mind, once I return to songs/albums I've previously heard - I hear them completely different. Something just elevates in my opinions, and it's only then that I start to enjoy the band.
I have no shame to admit that I lean more towards "commercial" songs, and it takes me some time to appreciate progressive bands that I love today. So far, this moment hasn't come with Symphony X, although I can feel it's somewhere there, and I guess it'll come soon. As a mythology enthusiast - if it doesn't come by fourth or fifth album, it probably never will (but I doubt it.)
I can see that, especially with these first two albums, but that all changes on Divine Wings. The songs are more distinct, the hooks gets better. And this continues throughout their career. By the time Iconoclast rolls around I’d say they are purely a “song” band, and with that, lost a lot of the magic from these earlier records.

I had this same experience with Opeth until I heard every album like 10 times. Shit, I still go back and have this experience with half of their discography. It’s just very dense.
That band riff after the chorus and especially little lick is such a nice touch, but I got to comment this: that more-than-hearable break before the second verse is more than amateurish. It looks like they've stepped up their production, so I have no idea how could something like that slip on the final product.
I said the same thing! It’s horribly sloppy and so obviously a tape splice. Very lame.
OK, I got to admit, I heard several songs that come up after these two, but even these first four tracks blow out of the water first two albums.
Like, Self-titled and Damnation Game are a bunch of guys doing their best playing football (or soccer) in 3rd league, and you appreciate their style and applaud their effort, but these first two songs on The Diving Wings of Tragedy? They're one of those clubs that start in the Premiership so good bookies see them as champions at the end of the season.
It’s truly a level up in all regards. This album is hailed as a classic for a reason.
 

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
Wait...the title track is the worst song on the album?! It’s definitely not perfect, but it’s certainly better than some of the filler!
I dunno, I think the filler songs on Damnation Game are actually quite fun. The title track just feels like a weak start to an otherwise solid record.
Really cool cover! And awesome to hear a woman tackle SX (though I don’t think she can touch Russell in terms of aggression).
Definitely has some ways to go there but I genuinely think she’s got one of the coolest female voices I’ve ever heard in metal and I’m sure she’s going to get better with more practice. The base is all there.
It is actually pretty weird to hear him holding such a clear, belted note without adding grit or blues to it. Nice catch.
Gets kind of throaty though, which seems unusual for Russell but it’s an intriguing little aspect.
 

Jer

Yes, Yes, Another Beer!
I’m legitimately curious, and not trying to bait you into an argument, what you consider “scenery chewing” in vocals?
When a genuine expression of strength and melody in a vocal curdles into an inauthentic, forced “tough” or semi-roaring sound to try to project strength instead of just demonstrating it. Much like the difference between a villainous character in a movie being someone with believable behavior and motivations vs. a mustache-twirling “look at me, I’m so eeeeeeevil!” performance.

Or to be more brief, when it sounds like someone is trying too hard to come off a certain way, rather than just authentically coming off that way. The musical equivalent of bad acting, e.g. James LaBrie trying to sound “tough” on anything.
 

MrKnickerbocker

clap hands
Out of the Ashes
Music: Romeo, Pinnella, Miller
Lyrics: Allen

NOTES:
  • The intro section references Bach's Prelude n°2 in C minor - BMW 847
LYRICS
In the house of my master
Behind the gate there is a bed of snakes where evil lays
Oh, I hear laughter
I forged the iron bars that
Someday will imprison me

PRE-CHORUS
Oh, mother will you help me
Mother will you help me
To find a reason to go on

CHORUS:
Out of the ashes of my youth
I rise a man (and through the eyes)
And through the eyes of truth
I finally understand
The way

[Guitar Solo]

I've been beaten with his words
And whipped with his lies
He will not break me down
No matter how hard he tries
Pray for my lost soul
Out of control the storm inside me
Rages on and on and on

PRE-CHORUS

CHORUS

[Guitar Solo]
[...bass fill!...]
[Keyboard Solo]
[Fucking nuts guitar/keyboard/bass unison]

CHORUS x2
  • This. Song. Never. Stops. Fucking. Slapping.
  • The entire band slaps you right in the face out of the gate with a full band, über-neoclassical section that goes through 3 different variations before sounding like we're coming to a full-stop...
  • ...nope, just another giant slap as the verse starts.
  • I know the tonality here isn't necessarily fierce, but the pace of this song and the level of musicianship on display is relentless. It's one of the most relentless songs in the discography and I love it.
  • Russell comes in and slaps your ears with some ferocious Dio tones, awesome random belting, and this all at 4,312,721 bpm.
  • We get a very brief reprieve during the pre-chorus, which adds some nice melodic backing vocals (mixed well!). I actually don't know if those "oooh's" are people or keyboards?
  • The "ah-ah" section leading into the chorus is really well-timed. It provides a moment of beauty in the chaos.
  • One of the most anthemic choruses in the entire discography. I fucking love it. The way that Russell "the way's" his way out of the first chorus into a weird note simply to bridge into the brief guitar solo is really cool.
  • The second verse slaps the shit out of the first verse. Better lyrics, better delivery, better timing, random choir filled with weird classical lachrymose falsetto singing...it's just so cool. The syncopation during that "pray for my lost soul" part is expertly lead by Romeo and Rullo. It's one of my favorite dynamic changes ever.
  • Second chorus is even better cause Russell slaps us in the neck with his second "the way" all while Romeo wanks up a fury behind him.
  • Romeo's solo is nothing special, but the transition into the keyboard section with Miller noodling his ass off is awesome. The unison that follows is stellar. Killer playing.
  • This final chorus, Holy Fucking Dio is it good. Russell once again shows up to prove who he actually is by adding bluesy runs and soul to the proceedings. I just love this tune.
  • Lyrically, definitely sounds pretty straightforward: a young guy overcoming an abusive/dismissive/overbearing/not good father and taking his life into his own hands. Or, a magician's protégé realizing his master has lied to him about the truth of magic, consulting the earth mother for power and strength, and overcoming an elderly wizard in a magical flurry. Ya know, one of those two things.
I got to see Symphony X play this song at a small bar in Aurora, Illinois in 2003 during The Odyssey tour. Holy hell, what a show. I'm positive Russell sang to my mother during the pre-chorus. Side note: Rullo also came outside in the snow (wearing his stage clothes) to give a young @Detective Beauregard and I his drum sticks and take pictures because they kicked all the kids out after the show.

Here's Romeo playing it slow and talking:


Here's the band dusting this one off as recently as 2016:


And for some reason, Russ singing with an "all-star group" at a benefit for Kids in Rome circa 2017:

 
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