“Paradise Lost” by Symphony X

Artist: Symphony X
Title: “Paradise Lost”
Label: InsideOut Music
Release Date: 6/26/2007
Genre: Progressive Power Metal
Rating: 4/5

It has always been said that good things come to those who wait and clearly from the moment that Symphony X fans around the world began spinning the bands latest opus “Paradise Lost”, that the five plus years time in between albums from the group had not been in vain for them to wait thru. As a Progressive Metal album this is both a stunning display of top notch musicality and also a relentless offering up of melody and crunching groove. The adventure into the new release begins with a thunderous intro by way of “Oculus Ex Inferni” and this instrumental opener leads you to the rousing “Set The World On Fire”. It is with this track that I felt we were finding the band at their technical best as guitarist Michael Romeo delivers riffs that can only be defined as super human again and again. I was impressed right from the beginning with this one and while I had not expected the band to disappoint the listener, I was quite awed at just how much they chose to up their personal game at the craft with the new album. Lead vocalist Russell Allen really showcases a powerful set of pipes very early on and while he is not one of those soaring eight octave types, he really is one of my favorite Metal singers based on the purity of his voice. There are times on the album where he reminds me a little of Ronnie James Dio of course, but that is never a bad thing when you are in a Metal band. “Domination” continues the journey and while it begins with some fast paced fury, it switches up the tempo when the vocals come in just a little bit for diversity. The chorus finds the speed picked up again and the guys keeps swapping back on forth to keep the listener engaged while the tune progresses. I’ll skip around a little and speak about what comes off as the bands ballad for the release which we find on “Paradise Lost”. It’s not a true ballad per se, but the feel is smooth and the vocals from Allen softer than we have ever found him to my knowledge. The pace picks up a little midway and when it gets to the chorus you can almost envision the audience lighting up their lighters or using their cell phone displays to bring the moment a little more in the visual sense. In any case we are only half of the way in and we can easily find out just how well crafted the release is and how hard Mike Romeo worked on the compositions we received on this one.

A fast favorite of mine was “Eve Of Seduction” because this one tore the walls off in terms of heaviness and drive. I lean to the faster tracks for the most part anyway and was happy that the album offered up a healthy dose of this kind of number. “Seven” also proved to be rather satisfying to me as a close second. The Prog-Metal diehards will enjoy “Walls Of Babylon” quite a bit because while a rich in content type of track, it begins with a lengthy instrumental introduction that finds the guys all offering up their chops for the listener’s enjoyment. The album is named after the epic poem by John Milton and while this is the case I didn’t find that the lyrical content of the album was following any type of concept or singular story. Their titles seem to tie the tracks together but in all honesty I felt that they were fully able to stand alone and discovered that the listener doesn’t need to listen to track A in order to understand what is happening in track B. It’s safe to skip around the disc on this one my friends but I feel that you will start it and let it run straight through.

Packaging is always something that I find appealing especially when it’s been done with a sense of purpose or is very involved in its detail. As result I was quite pleased to find this going on with the cover art and pages of the booklet that is included with the “Paradise Lost” CD. The cover and interior illustrations were done by Warren Flanagan who according to research had previously done art direction for some notable Science Fiction and Horror movies. The artwork surrounds the lyrics which I was already happy to find presented, and the drawings depict the epic struggle of good versus evil. They are rather dramatic in their visuals and should interest the bands fans without question. As far as how these battles turn out well, I will leave that to your own discovery to see who looks to be leaning towards victory in them as it plays out. Fans of “The Odyssey” should have no problem finding “Paradise Lost” to be their new favorite Symphony X album because the band has truly done their homework and not only kept with the times in terms of sounding fresh amidst the mass of Prog/Power Metal bands that are on the endless rise today but by also showing us that no matter how long a band has been at their game that there is always the chance to improve and raise the stakes. It is also the perfect jumping on point for the new fan who will not feel excluded by not having followed them for years and years. Great work guys, this was really impressive.

Track Listing:
1. Oculus Ex Inferni
2. Set The World On Fire
3. Domination
4. Serpent’s Kiss
5. Paradise Lost
6. Eve of Seduction
7. The Walls Of Babylon
8. Seven
9. The Sacrifice
10. Revelation

Official Website: http://www.symphonyx.com

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